Our first week of school in September was a four day workshop with the incredible Perry Kulper of the University of Michigan We learned about the concept of design method being something controllable. Perry has identified at this point fourteen methodologies that can be seen as techniques for design, and maybe there are more. There are plenty of us who would love to see a book. I’ve seen subject monographs on less.

We were asked to work exclusively within one of four methodologies – analogy, appropriation, gesture translation, and syntactical notation. Knowing that strictly adhering to an appropriative method is the thing I’d be least likely to do, and that I am here to challenge myself, appropriation is the method I picked. So we were to design a motel on the site of one of three Edward Burtynsky photographs… So, fellow-Angeleno Mauricio Espinosa and I put together some ideas.

First – the strict appropriations. A different Burtynsky photo, the festival of Holi, Joseph Beuys’s Pack, Yves Klein, and Coop Himmelb(l)au all came together as a free associational formal / conceptual melange.


After talking to Perry, we decided to edit the number of ideas and hone in on them. We wound up creating a narrative of cheese. Ha – the sleds in Pack became these autonomous roving units with a “transformative machine” on the bottom that turned the oily range into cheese. The landscape beyond was a promised land of cheese, and cheese was used as a principal building block and currency, so the motel was full of cheese and has three sides with cheesy facades.

Ship-MDEDM tiny

Needless to say, our final presentation went swimmingly. And with a story like that, why not?

So – this was about 4 days – three days of work really – and we cranked out some very serious thought and had a lot of fun getting into the mindset we’ll need to keep on this year.

And many thanks to Perry for an incredible boot camp of how to be a great designer. It was an incredible way to start my studentship here.


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