Continuing the focus of the ‘First Year Experience’, our final Design Charrette revolved around developing new ways to further enrich and improve this beginning year in CIF. As “QUT’s Creative Industries Faculty focuses on forward-looking arts, media, and design courses to foster a vibrant creative and design community through education, research and practice,” our group particularly wanted to improve the connections and resources within this ‘community’.
While we were equipped with the gained knowledge from the previous Mini Charrette, our initial approach to the brief was overflowing with a variety of infeasible, complex and extremely costly ideas. Our greatest failure included a proposal for a new 24/7 creative space, inspired by locations such as The Block and The Edge. With no university funding available and no extra room on campus, this plan quickly fell through. Despite this, our recent appreciation for failure provided for us the motivation to refine our concept to an exclusive CI society, facilitated through a website, rather than a physical area. The aim of this website would be to create a sense of belonging for all CI students, and to provide them with an online space that inspires their creativity, provides them with exclusive discounts, draws their attention to relevant events or successful artists, and allows them to showcase their own personal work. Unlike our initial idea of a location within the university devoted to creative work, this design requires a lot less funding and is far more plausible. Alongside the website, this society would have personalised ID cards, giving them access to events and discounts via a unique barcode, and giving CI students physical evidence that they are, in fact, a part of something.
As part of the design process, each group was given the opportunity to consult their tutor for feedback on their existing ideas. From the meeting, it was established that our design, while a successful concept, required further modification and a clearer concept. Through research of existing societies, websites and creative events, our strategy from here was to understand how each of these programs run, and to ensure our design was dissimilar from these examples. Originality and uniqueness in a product is key to any new design, and it is a priority to refrain from steering too close to a solution that is already available. Further feedback included the need to develop funding for the website and people to run it. From here we went our separate ways, indulging in independent research and prototyping that would be shared in our next group meeting. We continuously questioned and pushed the boundaries of our skills to combine our understandings of the design process. From here, we surveyed CI students to ensure that we were on the right track, and merged our research to solve our tutor’s concerns.
Taking inspiration from successful platforms, such as The Design Kids and D-Zine, our final solution resolved as a space where first year students can be eased in to the Creative Industries and showcase their original work with students both in their chosen field and in broader areas. This tool will allow students to explore the creative work of others and gain valuable knowledge and inspiration to steer them in the right track as the first step in their designing future. The goal of this online society was to collectively breed innovation and employ a strong sense of connection that was often desired but not experienced by previous first year students. The society, website and associated events will be run by second and third year CI volunteers, supported by excess funding from membership and event payments. For event locations, the QUT campus and existing venues within the Brisbane arts community provide plenty of room for showcases, galleries, band nights and professional industry panels.
Overall, this experience has enabled me to grasp a first-hand understanding of a true design process, all inclusive of its messy mistakes and back-and-forth steps. The challenges that arose, however, pushed our final design solution to the best possible outcome within the given time frame, and enhanced our skills, both as researchers and problem-solvers. Whilst our visuals and prototypes were our greatest asset for the presentation, I learnt that design is not all about the aesthetics, but is about thinking outside of the box and utilising creativity as a fuel for solving problems. As my entire group collectively gained this knowledge, our final result was as visually attractive as it was viable, feasible and desirable for the target audience. Through creative risk taking and a strong passion to truly take our feedback on board, the Design Charrette was a clear example of the importance of indulging in each and every part of the design process.