Know yourself through design. The Personal Collections workshop devised by the mischer’traxler Studio

What better way to know yourself than through activities that enrich your creative side? Thanks to the Personal Collections workshop directed by mischer’traxler (Program Leaders of the Master of European Design Labs) and given by Álvaro de Ocón (tutor in the Master of Product Design Labs) the students of the four masters studied and reflected on themselves in depth and made themselves known through design.

In this workshop they had to reflect a series of characteristics that defined them as people through a small collection of eight objects. To do this, they had to work in the abstract, modifying and creating from scratch these small representations of themselves to form a family of objects with a coherent common narrative.

We wanted to go further and understand the workshop’s contribution in a short interview with Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler, who devised the activities for the Masters of Design and Innovation.

mischer'traxler studio - Program Leaders European Design Labs - IED Madrid

Katharina Mischer & Thomas Traxler

Program Leaders of the Master of European Design Labs and Founders of the mischer’traxler studio where they direct their projects towards experiments and conceptual thought within a given context.

Why did you ask the students to collect objects in order to know more about themselves?

Since they were all new to the IED and thus didn’t know each other or the facility, we thought it would be interesting for everyone involved to see who they are – but reflected from a design point of view. Thinking about oneself also automatically puts one in the position of thinking why they are here, how they are connected to their roots, what is really important for them and how they see themselves. It is a process of reflection, which we think is very important for design in general. Also, in design one has to ask if the project makes sense, if it communicates the concept and if they can identify themselves with the outcome. It is also a small task to visualise something very abstract (like characters...).

How was the personality of the students reflected in these small collections?

The only requirement was that the collection had to be made up of small objects and that they also had to fit together as a collection – so they had to share several aspects in order to be a collection. This can be the technique or the material the objects are made out of, or their colour and how they are combined in the setup. Of course they could also use ready-mades, but these had to be transformed in one way or the other. With the small project we also wanted them to learn a bit more about the facilities, like workshops,…) and also for us and other tutors to get to know them a little bit.

How were the results? What did the students think about when selecting these objects? Did they discover unknown things about themselves? 

The projects were always very different, like all the students. Some of them created something very personal like things that represented their character, others had things which were very strongly connected to their country of origin, some others were more focussed on their hobbies and others created something more philosophical, which needed also quite a lot of explanation.

How can this inner immersion help them in their projects?

This project has a lot to do with a visual translation of words to objects, which we think is a very important part in design – how to communicate something in 3D – so we hope they learned a bit about this. Moreover it is a task where one is free of a certain functionality and can explore aesthetics and material more freely and thus create quite surprising things.


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