Exploring Collaboration | Spring 2022

The Bridge & Towers | Workshops

During the Spring semester of 2022, I was given the opportunity to run a workshop during the Full-Time MDes cohort’s section of Studio, graciously allowed by my classmates and Louise St Pierre. I was able to run two separate workshops that aimed to understand how we create and problem solve together. These two workshops were ”The Bridge” and “Towers”.

During “The Bridge” the class was tasked with building a clay bridge across two tables, roughly one foot in distance. The bridge would be tested by holding up any amount of stones. With a vague, prescribed outcome, and the materials provided, the class went to work developing their structure. This form of collaboration was close to that which I aimed to explore, the moment to moment action and process that happens when people come together to work. This was an exciting workshop, it forced the class to move around the space and each other. I also discovered a new invisible layer to consider with collaborative work, that being that social dynamics and hierarchies that are at play during the collaboration. I saw this immediately when this workshop began, as some classmates jumped right into the action, others were slower to move to the centre and allowed their peer’s to take lead. It made me question: how do you collaborate in a way that is considerate of both extroverts AND introverts? What does inclusive collaboration look like? How is the collaboration designed, built, moderated, by whom, and is that process including the people involved in the collaboration? 

The Towers project took a different approach to collaborative work. In groups of 3, classmates were tasked with building “up” using Lego bricks. The only prescribed outcome was to create some type of artefact with the Lego, and to do it together. This was another example of exploring the moment to moment instances of collaboration, with lower stakes, a quieter environment, and a relaxed energy to the process. This exploration acted as more of a process to have conversation over. As my classmates worked through their builds, we discussed the idea of social dynamics, of being considerate to everyone’s ability and capacity, and about how this format of collaboration was much more accessible (smaller groups, lower stakes, ideation and conversation). 

Both projects were very exciting to run, and I must thank my classmates and Louise St Pierre once again for allowing me the time and space to work with my inquiry. Being detached from studio for this period of time halted much of the momentum I was working with, and it was wonderful to be able to engage with the work once again. It kept my thinking alive and well. 

I aim to revisit these types of projects again – I find there is something very meaningful in the considerations that these projects brought up. One such consideration: how do you collaborate with both extroverts and introverts? 

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