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MRes RCA collaborate with the Design Museum on an online festival


How to be out of the box when you are stuck in one.

Working in interdisciplinary groups, 49 researchers from MRes RCA, confronted the challenge of how to be creative when confined to the box of our homes during lockdown. 


On 24 June a preview of the projects were released on the Design Museum’s Instagram feed and during a Lunch and Learn session. The projects will later be launched online as part of the Design Museum’s Make It Public Festival on 11 July.

The one-day event, developed by students from across MRes RCA’s four pathways, will feature workshops, sound performance, interactive games and more. Each group has responded to a given theme – Balance, Body, Identity, Materials, Memory, Participation and Position – reflecting on how the current global pandemic has affected aspects of our daily life. Make it Public communicates that we can be out of the box even when we are stuck in one. 

Originally planned as a physical festival at the Design Museum, Covid-19 has forced students to shift their focus online. Of the move, Acting Head of MRes RCA, Dr Laura Ferrarello said, ‘Once lockdown happened the Design Museum and I had to rethink the structure of the festival completely.  We were keen to explore what a digital festival would look like and agreed to experiment with something neither organisation had ever done before. The festival suddenly became a platform to test new ideas.’

Students have responded to this challenge very positively, learning new skills such as sound and video recording, web page design, interactive gaming to bring their ideas to life online. 

‘The Design Museum and I are very impressed to see such a depth of thinking which expresses the students’ resilient response to the lockdown.’ Laura commented. ‘The title of this festival reflects that Covid didn't stop us being creative and innovative. The variety and richness of the projects show the sense of community the festival has helped develop within the MRes RCA community.’

The seven projects are:

1. De-Homë Special Issue: Isolated. Alienated (Balance)

De-Home
De-Home
You’re stuck at home and the world is descending into madness. Time to reorganise, to redecorate, and to reinvent. DE-HOMË announces a special edition of its furniture and lifestyle catalogue to guide you through these trying times and make the most of your life in lockdown.

2. Gathering Zine (Body)

Gathering Zine, Sample spread, MRes RCA
Gathering Zine, Sample spread, MRes RCA
This project takes the form of a collaborative publication, collecting varying responses within the topic of ‘body’. The Zine highlights how a theme can be approached from multiple lenses and perspectives, enabling diverse interpretations.

3. Identity as a box (Identity)

Dr. Jonathan Ashley-Smith profile photo
Dr. Jonathan Ashley-Smith profile photo
The group reflected on how ‘identity’ can be viewed as a construct that functions as a box (physical, conceptual, emotional, cognitive and social), from which one might be able/ unable/ forced to step out of. Working in different fields of art, design and architecture research, they explore these perspectives through a series of intimate online interviews with scholars, artists, designers and professionals from various disciplines. 

4. PAPER (Materials)

PAPER (Materials), MRes RCA
PAPER (Materials), MRes RCA
This project welcomes you to play with paper in different ways. Engage your hands and spirits through creating shapes or forms of your own. Learn how to make your own keep-sakes, and discover the many facets of paper. The tactile nature of this medium, along with its fragility and strength, symbolise some of the emotions that we go through in these extraordinary times. 

5. Memory Collective (Memory)

Memory Collective, MRes RCA
Memory Collective, MRes RCA
This project brings together research to visualise different ways in which history can form our understanding of the world. But cracks and holes begin to appear in this pursuit of a collective memory. It becomes a maze that leads us to dead ends and unexpected destinations. 

Take part in the interactive maze from 11 July.

6. A Kind of Sound (Participation)

What happens when you listen to a sound? Does it make you happy, sad or trigger a memory? A Kind of Sound aims to connect people through a collection of common sounds by asking: what does kindness sound like? These sounds will be collected and shared through three pieces: a live installation, a digital archive and an interactive website, each designed to prompt participation through simply listening, watching or even playing. To submit your sound, have a try on our website and click the arrow. 

7. Retool Box of Cards (Position)

Position card
Position card
The Retool Box of Cards is designed as a set of online cards to foster group's collaborative work. Aiming to bring some humanity and physicality into the straight jacket of video conferencing platforms, the idea behind Retool Box of Cards is that you select a card at random and let the activity stimulate a group's creativity in new and inventive ways.

All cards are available here: @retool.box.Share your activities with us using our hashtag #retoolbox.


Make it Public, 11 July, 11am – 5 pm. Workshops and interviews will be streamed via the Design Museum website. Information on participatory and open-submission works can be found via the Design Museum website.


Find out more about MRes RCA and how to apply.