Connecting Contemporary Designers: building online practice

University of Brighton Faculty of Arts Student magazine article.


Project Holder: Catherine McDermott 
Institution: Kingston University – Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture

1. About the project

Could you briefly outline your project’s aims?

Connecting Contemporary Designers asks questions about how can we support emerging creative talent in the current culture of austerity using the developing field of online curatorial practice. To this end, the project aims are to develop new skills and understanding in the area of online curation and professional digital networks; enable participants to further develop portfolios, presentation skills and future career possibilities; and explore the creation of sustainable international networks essential for their future career development using the platform of digital media. 

2. Project progress 

What would you say has been the key success of the project?

While exploring the issues set by the brief, students have made great strides in understanding the challenges and potentials of digital media. Project outcomes are varied and creative, showing that the students were thinking critically about new ways to curate and present emerging creatives through online networks. We were impressed with the originality of the submitted proposals, especially the winning idea which aimed to develop an entirely new social platform aimed at art and design graduates. 

Have there been any unexpected benefits as the project progressed, could you give some details?

When investigating ways to develop creative networks, both tutors and students discovered resources and social media tools that were previously unknown to us.

Could you give details of any unexpected hurdles you encountered during the course of the project?

We had some timetabling difficulties given the differences between time zones in the UK and China. The China team were quicker to give feedback than the UK judges on the students’ submitted work, partly due to differences in holiday schedules, which resulted in some tension between the two groups and a feeling that we were not working ‘together’; however this was resolved by agreement to announce the final winner together at an agreed day and time with feedback collated from both sides, so that the students would have a more unified experience.

3. Impact on teaching and learning

How do you believe the project has impacted on your teaching?

We have learned to be more sensitive to practical differences such as scheduling and feedback and will manage student expectations with these differences in mind in future projects. 

How do you believe future students may benefit from the project outcomes?

We have raised awareness of the possibilities of social media, online communication tools such as Vimeo, in the expectation that students may now be able to use these to develop their own portfolios and online presence. 

What would you consider were the potential wider community benefits from your project?

Outside of the benefits to individual students, we have also raised awareness of the challenges faced by young creatives in getting their work seen in a competitive and flooded environment, and some possible solutions to help content creators find and promote new creative talents. 

4. Collaborative aspects of the project 

How have students responded to the project?

Students were extremely enthusiastic, presenting their ideas with plenty of development and imagery, with evidence of having understood the brief. Sometimes their ideas were a little too ambitious and/or broad, which was accordingly critiqued in the feedback. 

Have other members of staff been asked, or offered, to cooperate as the project progressed?

Various people came on board as the project progressed, including tutors from the UK and Chinese professional creative sectors. The involvement of people ‘in the field’ was seen as vital to motivating students and gaining a perspective from outside of the academic world. 

How do you envisage the wider subject community may potentially benefit from the project?

We feel that the project is of broad interest to the creative community and addresses a real challenge which we can continue to develop in our future, more outward-facing projects, drawing on the research from this initial trial.

Contact Information

Professor Catherine McDermott, Course Director MA Curating Contemporary Design, School of Communication Design

back to Art Design Media Learning and Teaching Projects 2011-12



brightONLINE student literary journal

24 Jan 2012