Read: Working Together — The SLQ Perspective

Date: December 5, 2012

Author: Naomi Takeifanga

A couple of weeks ago, representatives of the venue partners for CUSP: Designing for the Next Decade gathered in Sydney for a two day workshop exploring ways to exchange information and engage audiences, passing knowledge around the country. Previously, Sandra Brown outlined her reaction to the day, and here Naomi Takeifanga of the State Library of Queensland reflects on the two days.

Sitting in Brisbane at a picnic table in the middle of a swimming complex for yet another kids birthday party, the notion of design and its importance in our lives for the everyday becomes more than apparent. I won’t bore you with the details but, living in the sunshine state where swimming pools are a way of life, public swimming pools need that extra special design. Kid spotting is hard enough, let alone being set up 50m from the kids. Nothing good design in its basic sense couldn’t easily fix.

But that’s not what I’m here to write about! Last week I was fortunate to attend the Working Together workshop discussing the upcoming Object touring exhibition, CUSP: Designing for the Next Decade. Now this wasn’t any workshop, and the very fact that it happened sets this project apart. At the heart of the gathering was collaboration, information seeking and open to all tangential conversations, as reps from the involved venues gave intimate details of their organisations.

Before the workshops started I was having coffee and the most delicious banana bread at Lumiere cafe (answering work emails), I had to make a conscious decision to let the work that waited for me to just wait, and to be present in mind and body for the next two days. From the get go I was excited to be there. I joined most of the Object staff, and representatives from JamFactory in Adelaide, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre in Sydney, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery in Mornington, Western Plains Cultural Centre in Dubbo, and Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in Launceston on a perfect Sydney day.

The first session was a great catch-up on the project to date, and how Object have visioned this exhibition in the sense of looking from national audience perspective back into the exhibition, and looking from the venues perspective back into the exhibition content and programming, rather than a straight exhibition that is developed and then tours. Most conversations were round circle, if not physically, certainly capturing everyone’s input. And when posed the question, ‘how would your audiences respond to these designers ideas’, my response was (not quite verbatim, and perhaps a little afterthought inserted here!):

CUSP and Object are such a neat fit with SLQ’s vision to enrich the lives of Queenslanders through creative engagement with information, knowledge and community. The diversity of designers/ artists and their creative designs in CUSP resonate with SLQ’s ideology and programming, across the board, inc
– Exhibitions, Events and Learning teams in Learning & Participation – groundbreaking exhibitions and programming;
The Edge – SLQ’s experimental digital playground;
APDL – Asia Pacific Design Library programming and centre for all things design;
– The work will inspire the younger demographic and will provide ideal opportunities for considered learning programs through Design Emergency and our Design Minds and a multitude of exhibition engagement opportunities for all ages and literacy levels.
– Our visitors have an ongoing expectation that we will challenge them with new ideas and concepts, and provide a framework to explore/pursue their own design/creative/research adventures. The CUSP designers are not designing the next fad, the next big thing, these designers are taking us on a journey based in real issues and applying and pushing design thinking to new levels . Their feet are in reality and thank goodness they are not confined by ‘everyday’ of life, they are future thinkers, future makers’.

What stood out for me, above all, was the notion of human centred design by using creativity for social change. Some designers are consumed by design altruism and real world projects, others not as much, but they all pose a potential new reality, a shift in thinking with potential global impacts, and that blows my mind! As a mother of young children I often think what their reality will be when they hit 30.

In essence this exhibition is being crafted and designed not only in content and curation, but also in the way this exhibition will live. The venues are involved in a quasi co-parenting model where there are real opportunities for influence, nurturing and advocacy over the life of the project.

Naomi Takeifanga
Exhibitions Manager
State Library of Queensland

This post originally appeared here on Object Eye.