Why Study Situated Design?


Second-year student Andreea Samoila shares her experience and insights about the Situated Design course. 


What is Situated Design?

Situated Design is the exploration done around a topic, concept, idea, individual, or action, that is worth observing and researching for the designer, and is expressed in whatever medium best communicates the complex interdisciplinary themes. The value in observing a context (of whatever kind it is) depends on the attention / intention / interest / position of the maker, which can be expressed directly through the project or not. Situated Design can come in forms of graphic, type, editorial, environmental, exhibition, product, event design; film, photography, animation, sculpture, audio narrative, and the combinations in between.

What made you decide to choose Situated Design?

Having a bachelor in architecture, but knowing that my interests about how we use spaces and objects were at smaller scales than buildings, I decided to look for a programme that will allow me to start projects from analysing and understanding deeply the context of the future work, just as one does an initial site and context analysis for a building. I also chose this master because the varying zones of expertise that the Situated Design tutors have covered are not only my areas of interest, but also areas I knew I would like to explore and have someone guide me.

What have you learned so far in Situated Design that you didn’t expect?

That there is a much vaster landscape of types of designers, architects and artists than I could imagine, or know how to search for before starting this masters. It is really a great occasion to delve into artistic research, and receive references and precedents so “spot-on” to what you are interested in, that you never thought possible. The tutorials were the eye-opening discussions for me, as now knowing about other practitioners very close to my specific pool of interests made me feel less of a lone wolf.

What is it about Situated Design that stands out?

You can get out of the masters as much as you put into it. The tutors can riff with you on ideas due to their own interdisciplinary studios, the technicians in the workshops are a wonderful surprise when you start the master as they are incredible thinkers that help you figure out how to bring in material form your ideas, and the fact that you get such an eclectic mix of students with very wide ranging bachelors gets to some interesting conversations if the right context shows itself.

Who is Situated Design for?

If you want to express or develop work based, inspired or strongly connected to a specific context (geographical, cultural, temporal) and if you have interests in conceptual and theoretical thinking, SD is quite a good place to explore these fascinations.

What kind of projects are you expected to do during Situated Design?

In the first year with the elective modules you will receive more explicit briefs that will help you try various working methods and means of incorporating new theoretical learnings into your practical work. The medium will mostly not be dictated by the modules, leaving still a great range for creative expression. In your autonomous work you will be asked to do the same as in the modules, but to also develop your own directing questions for projects, and through research be able to explain what situated action/event/object/idea/observation drive you to do work about it. A great piece of advice I still follow is to have two good reasons for every design choice you make.

How much teaching / contact time is there?

The contact time with teachers is higher during the first year is about 12-14 hours a week, while in the second year it is 6-8 hours a week through modules and seminars. The students sign up for tutorials, and are given time and space to self-initiate and guide their projects within the Independent Studio Practice, which occupies the greater part of the masters.