Writing Spaces|Workshop@ polimi 8-12 May 2017

The Workshop Week at Scuola del Design-Politecnico di Milano Bovisa has been a wonderful opportunity to further develop a discourse on #WritingSpaces that kicked off at Middlesex University few months ago.

Together with two colleagues, Ruth Bonazza and Peter Thomas (Learning Enhancement Team, Middlesex University) we’ve discussed, questioned and explored the idea that #WritingSpaces are able to stimulate and support the making of ideas through writing.

#WritingSpaces are a physical translation of a mental space: writing, no matter if what we write is and essay or a to-do list, is a self reflective practice that help us to neaten thoughts.

“People dont’ have ideas, they make them”*

The research, undertaken by Ruth Bonazza, Francesca Murialdo and Peter Thomas (Middlesex University) consisted of 3 different phases; the first one, through an online questionnaire, was directed to gain quantitative and qualitative informations about writing practices (How much do you write? Which kind of text do you write? Where do you write? Which tools do you use?). The second step was developed through conversations in small groups (Focus Groups) to discuss and identify space qualities favourable to the writing process.

This last stage, based on the outcomes from the previous ones, transforms speculations into designed spatial proposals.

The brief put emphasis on some of the issues raised from the previous phases: collaboration, identity and ownership are key ideas that the students of Scuola del Design, together with a small group of students from the School of Design Ohio State University, explored with their diverse projects.

Permeability, a given set of locations and contexts (public building/retail environment, library/bookshop, classroom, leftovers – corridors, footways,..) and writing formats have shaped the projects.

The ideas presented on Friday, after an intense week of work, are rooted in an accurate investigation about writing behaviours and practices that initiated the discussion.

Both Waves and Writer’s Destination choose airports as the ideal location to set up two very different projects. Waves (Mara Faravelli, Samantha Nemeth, Francesca Scorza, Tanya Soriato, Alice Tinelli, Amanda Viell) works on the concept of proximity and isolation, creating site generic space-furniture able to populate different contexts; Writer’s Destination (Giulia Bazzani, Hacer Beril Beden, Camilla Berruti, Chiara Bianco, Achille Erin, Katie Riley) focuses on the degree of customisation that such a popular space needs in order to meet different needs.

Libraries and bookshops have been identified by the research as an inspirational place where the presence of books trigger osmotically further words. Comic Nook (Anthony Josuè Favitta, Giulia Ferrara, Alex Getz, Jonathan Lambert, Silvia Rossi) introduces the comic novel as a very specific writing product able to merge words with graphics; exploiting and occupying the spaces between libraries, Comic Nook provides a futuristic pod able to gather around you needed references (it includes a service design feature that connects with the library catalogue) and other innovative tools. Starting from different premises Still Frame (Francesca Notaro, Costanza Diletta Lucia Previti, Fanny, Alyssa Miller, Catherine Renault, Laura Peshek) is an elegant system that is connected and generated from bookshelves: the thin steel frames are counterbalanced by coloured rubber surfaces to sit or write in two different settings, a more informal email-mode and a more structured longer tasks writing mode.

Origami (Claudia Casciaro, Andrea Cola, Francesco Di Girolamo, Giuseppe Francesco Giurfa, Emily Khouri, Ximeng Huang) aims to transform ideas in a university context: the structure unfolds and remodels ordinary classrooms generating a sequence of spaces able to provoke and enhance the exchange of ideas. The same context, a university classroom, has been explored also by Muro della Creativita‘ (Bianca Adams, Emily Datsko, Marta De Marie, Chloè Denniston, Matteo Delledonne, Didem Parlas) that, with an architectural approach, provides a space within a space: every detail questions how space supports creativity and writing.

The last two projects confronts leftover spaces in two very different ways. Slide & Study (Brianna Branko, Delia Ferraris, Vladislav Kotov, Elizabeth Riddel, Davide Maurice Weissy, Valeria Zucco) is able to activate corridors in an educational context providing a customizable temporary provision of desks and seats that the user can arrange in different arrangements according to needs. Brain Train (Coralita Juliana Arnold, Fabrizio Carbotti, Maria Beatrice Finotto, Mattia Marzorati, Mandy Pavlich) is situated in train stations and, by exploring different writing tools, provides a surface to write: contributions are stored and displayed as layered memories on the collaborative ‘monument’, exploring writing as a social activity.

Here are few pictures of the process

Here some of student’s work

#WritingSpaces by Francesca Murialdo with Cristina Foglia

Thanks to Michele Capuani, Jeffrey Haase  and Alberto Ghirardello for the help

* Carruthers, M. (1998), The Craft of Thought: Meditation, Rhetoric and the Making of Images, 400–1200, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 5)
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