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å Monday, February 18th, 2013

Y Student pairings for video

Phil and Max and Yea Won
Hannah and Karsten
Jia and Jay
Jay and Sae Ra
Emily and Claire
Erin and Christina

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B Relational Design Readings

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Towards Relational Design, Design Observer, By Andrew Blauvelt

Towards Relational Design, Walker Art Center, By Andrew Blauvelt

Strained Relations, Print Magazine, By Rick Poynor

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Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry


4 Blog / Unit 1: Design Ethnography   b Add comment

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í Relational Design is…
Mon, Feb 18

Semester-long assignment

Please add your response in the comments

b 5    

5 responses to “Relational Design is…”

  1. John says:

    Relational design is open-ended

  2. John says:

    Relational Design is less about the single author and more about the user

  3. Jia says:

    Relational design is the line that connects A to B.

  4. Jia says:

    Relational Design is thinking about the gap between the word Relational and the word Design.

  5. Phil says:

    Relational design is about designing for humans by humans

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í Use Vine to create a 6-second story
Mon, Feb 18

Due week 2

As a conversation starter for next week, introduce us to your classmate with a 6 second video using Vine. This short, low-fi, video is meant to get you over the hump of shooting and to start thinking about ways to represent the ideas of your classmate.

Make a post, upload your video “Add Media”, and embed it into the post using the coding below. Categorize your post as Assignment 1

Embed your video

<video width=”480″ height=”480″ controls loop >
<source src=”http://rd13.johncaserta.info/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/IMG_5021.mp4″ type=”video/mp4″>

Learn more about Vine at  … download the app there as well.
Example above thanks to Sarah Verity

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í Create a 3-5 minute video of your classmate
Mon, Feb 18

Due March 11

Ethnography: a method or approach in th design process to understand people and problems associated with work.

Create a documentary video about each team member’s views and experience of graphic design — reflecting core values of his/her past work, career goals and motivations.

You will work in teams of two, each team member producing a QuickTime movie about the other person.

Some relationships to consider as a starting point:

  1. Personal: your story, past, present, future, habits, interests, influences, hobbies, collections
  2. Cultural: geography, history, values, ethos, phenomenon, events
  3. Design: Design to audience/sustainability, Design to art/culture, Design to business/consumer

You may use any or all of the following: still images, video from any type of camera including HD, Flip Video, or iPhone; type, drawing, voice over, and sound. Expand on the insights you gained from Making Meaning such as framing, point of view, and narrative—both linear and non-linear.


Work in class in teams. Get to know your classmate through a series of informal conversations, at his/her desk or home studio. Use class time to develop a line of questions or notes that will work on camera. Take sketch photos or clips with your iPhone. Create the assignment for next week.

Next Week:

Bring in actual footage to present to your classmate. Talk about what you have, and what you still need to acquire.

Week 3

Producing a working version. Some holes may still exist, but we should get your story.

Week 4: March 11

Present final movie in class section

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B Syllabus

Relational Design (3248-03), Spring 2013
Rhode Island School of Design
– – –
Design Center, Rm 801
Mondays, 1:10pm – 6:10pm
– – –
Instructor: John Caserta, jcaserta@risd.edu
Office Hours: Mondays 9:30am – 12:30pm
The Design Office, 204 Westminster St. 3rd flr


Design is no longer limited to a one-directional process where a visual expert creates a fixed form for a pre-determined audience. The role of designer itself varies from expert to facilitator to user within a single project. The field of Relational Design focuses on effect: the non-subjective area of design that effects experience. It can also be described as contextual and/or conditional — more concerned with the placement and lifespan than with its form.

Contrast this to the previous era of design, which was concerned with creating a universal language of form that could transcend social class (Modernist emphasis on simplification, reduction, and essentialism). In the more recent past, importance was placed on design’s symbolic value and its content (meaning-making). We are now looking at design’s performative dimension (relationships and context) and its effects on users, its pragmatic and programmatic constraints, its rhetorical impact, and its ability to facilitate social interactions.

This course will pair contemporary design methods with the communicative opportunities of our increasingly connected society. Projects will purposely alter the conventions that have defined form, function, meaning, and audience. Responding to the paradigm of collaboration and integrative thinking, we will incorporate group dynamics, consider alternative end forms, explore new ways to solve problems, and stimulate innovation.

Objectives and Expectations

  • to develop alternative design methods
  • to experiment with big picture thinking
  • to give up control as design auteur
  • to embrace groupwork
  • to enhance observational and analytical skills
  • to alter own and other’s behavior

Course Format

This course relies less on lectures and more on active teammwork, experimentation and doing. Self-organizing and team-lead discussion are an important part of how classtime will be structured. Expect much less guidance here than in previous GD courses. This is by design.


Grades from A to F will be assigned at both the middle and end of the semesters. Only the end of semester grade is on record. The following criteria are used for assessment:

  • Attendance (3rd absence fails the course)
  • Participation
  • Motivation/Attitude
  • Teamwork
  • Depth of investigation
  • Risk taking
  • End products: success in meeting objective
  • Individual growth

Course Schedule

There will be four core assignments representing different relational considerations. For the most part, there is no pre-determined deliverable. Each assignment will begin with an overview lecture providing context and precedents. Some assignments overlap.

UNIT 1: design ethnography

Four weeks

UNIT 2: substituting machines for each other

Two weeks

UNIT 3: site intervention

Three weeks

UNIT 4: participatory museum exhibition

Four weeks

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