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Read: What Do You Want?

Date: February 2, 2012

Author: Ross Colebatch

Read: CUSP Goes Rural For A Day

Date: February 2, 2012

Author: Ross Colebatch

It’s been a while between posts on CUSP: Design for the Next Decade but rest assured that it hasn’t been silent on our end. Holiday festivities, the packing up of a major touring exhibition and the opening of a couple of others ended up sucking a lot of the free time we had for keeping the information flowing.

Earlier this week, Danielle headed north through Sydney to find herself in a boat to the island that I’m lucky enough to live on. And so it was that the producers found themselves at an idyllic location on the first day above thirty degrees all summer — and we were inside, computers on, notebooks open, post-it notes all go.

The purpose of the day was to try and get our heads fully immersed in and then around the project as a whole, specifically in the lead up to the first physical instalment of the program in Sydney in March 2013.

I’ve had my head trapped in a number of other projects over the last couple of months and probably hadn’t afforded CUSP the time I should have, so it was a chance for me to take stock of both what it is possible to achieve, but also what is realistic when looking at time and resource (which are really one and the same.) The focus of the day was specifically digital — while it touched on aspects of the project as a whole, it was primarily about feeling out a timeline and steps that could be actioned along the way.

It was a good day, despite an unusual wind direction rendering the house incredibly hot. Planning centred around the impending website launch, currently scheduled for mid-2012, allowing a strong lead-in to the Sydney program launch. However, we kept finding ourselves coming back to points that we talk about a lot — and that seem to be constantly refined.

Who is our audience? What do they want? What are our digital aims, and indeed our project aims, and how do they differ and coalesce? The difficulty is in deciding who is the primary audience we want to engage, and then working out the best way to do this without limiting the possibility to engage with everyone else — after all, the vision of CUSP is to get everyone understanding that design isn’t necessarily just objects, but that it’s something everyone can, and does, do, every day.

While we progressed into plotting some of the online activity involving the designers and third party contractors, this probably leads well into another meeting that took place yesterday with Annalyse from Object and an external party, Lisa, who has been involved with Object for a while. We spent another hour and a half in the office (with Lisa joining us on Skype — how we love that application!) discussing marketing, communications and audience engagement.

Again, this took us back to those questions that lie at the heart of any program tasked with engaging people — who are our audience? Then, when you come up with something there, the question becomes how do you engage them. Ideas were flung around, some grand, some modest — and I’m sure some brilliant and some not-so-brilliant. I felt that a major outcome that emerged from this meeting was around the language we’re using.

We’ve already tried to stop talking about CUSP as an exhibition. Yes, there is an exhibited component, but it is itself a creative program. But when we’re talking to a broader public, is ‘creative program’ really the best language? It means something to us, but it’s probably a bit dry. Internally, that can remain, but when it’s being communicated out, it’s an experience. ‘Come and experience design for the next decade at CUSP.’

We also have to move away from thinking of it, and indeed talking about it, as a ‘touring’ exhibition. It isn’t a show we pack up and ship off before dusting off our hands. As, again, there is that exhibited element, there is an aspect of the show that will be packed and shipped, but we’re viewing it as a national program (or experience) with numerous physical interventions over many years. After all, with a digital venue that doesn’t tour in a traditional sense and will both precipitate and carry on after any physical manifestation, ‘touring’ doesn’t seem to do CUSP justice.

I could keep going, but I think our key points are covered. A couple of small shifts and changes that may have taken some time to come to, but are moving CUSP into what we think productions of this nature will emerge as in coming years. Not as singular one-offs, but as distributed programs and evolving concepts.

So, how would you like to see CUSP emerge?

This post originally appeared here on Object Eye.