Experimental Design embraces cross-disciplinary practice and extended disruption, founded on a challenged and remodelled idea of what experience and interaction can do and bring.
Experimental Design (XD) is about variability and abstraction, where the experimental is defined by the often-random element that prompts innovation and creativity. If X equals a given need plus a user group plus a context, we solve for X, drawing from scientific and artistic methods.
As cross-disciplinary practice, XD is about intersection and multiplication – a multiplicity of methods, modes, materials and perspectives. Just as the X axis of a graph represents time, and the X coordinate in Cartesian space represents the horizontal dimension, XD works across time, space and form, designing activities, events, systems and contexts.
As extended disruption, XD is about transformation, going beyond pure experience to design for personal, social, political change. Thus, alongside the Sound Design and Moving Image Design pathways in IED, students in the XD pathway utilise experimental, cross-disciplinary methods, modes, interactions, materials and perspectives applied to objects, screens and spaces, harnessing random variability and generative processes to merge data, technology, form and ideas into transformational experiences.
XD sits alongside the other two IED pathways, Moving Image Design and Sound Design, as the place to explore and expand the modes and methods of creating transformative experiences from information. Students in this pathway break away from the limitations of the screen to engage in physical, material and spatial approaches, grounded in data.
Students in this pathway are expected to come from a wide range of backgrounds both within and outside art and design. They can expect to engage with exhibition designers, installation artists, computer scientists, architects, physicists and biologists – not to explore the overlaps between these areas, but to engage in the outer boundaries of each, in order to stimulate new areas of practice.
Like the other IED pathways, XD engages with content, social and political issues through investigative processes, communicating with people by making them aware of issues and phenomena they may take for granted. IED is not the place for superficially aesthetic or technological outcomes, and XD aims to deepen its students’ intellectual capacity, research and design methods, and professional confidence.
The pathway is delivered through projects with external partners, seminars, peer reviews, tutorials, study visits and technical workshops. In the first year, students choose from the School of Communication elective programme provided by all School subjects, including an elective offered by the XD pathway. Additional projects, activity, events and talks are provided by IED.
The intellectual content of the XD pathway is delivered in weekly seminars on key readings, delivered by pathway tutors and guests. A linked series of practical workshops implement key ideas through technical areas of physical and digital design, making, presentation and research methods.
Each student in the pathway has a Personal Tutor who guides their progress and organises regular tutorials and critiques as well as visits, additional readings and projects. An XD elective in Terms 1 and 2 links with other pathways and programmes within the School, and students deconstruct and expand their practice in the first year. Term 3 is focused on the dissertation, on commercial projects, and on the Interim Exam.
Year 1 students assist Year 2 students with the Work-in-progress and Degree Shows, and students in each pathway begin with a wide subject bandwidth, which focuses on the pathway progressively leading up to Year 2. Each student has a Personal Tutor for the year, who is a subject specialist and organises regular tutorials. Weekly seminars and workshops are held across all three terms, with core curriculum and skills being front-loaded in Term 1.
Second year XD students are guided by a Personal Tutor as well as continuing weekly seminars and workshops, all designed to inform their practice in creating work for final projects and the Degree Show, and preparing them for professional practice. The autumn term continues the radical expansion of practice, but students begin to focus on particular areas of interest and expertise. Regular seminars and tutorials continue to structure the students’ work, which focuses on the Work-in-progress and Degree Shows in the spring and summer terms.