Kingston Creative Exchange (KCX) is a project jointly funded by The Martin Architecture and Design Workshop (MADWORKSHOP) which supports technological craftsmanship in the arts and design and Pratt Institute. The goal of the overall project is to provide a creative space for the exchange of design practices between the local artisans and young people of Kingston, NY via developmental curriculum implemented by Pratt interdisciplinary design team. The aim of the curriculum is to engage a group of students from Kingston High School in a series of community situated design workshops spanning over five weeks. We hope that their participation in the workshops will lead to an increased understanding of locally situated design practices (as they relate to space, objects, and concepts) that specifically draw on historical and contemporary resources of Kingston NY.

Through their involvement in the curriculum young people will engage in the following activities: interior design, process of mold-casting as it pertains to slip-casted ceramics and soap production, as well as communication design about the products created. The primary objective of the curriculum is to enable young people to engage in a design practice (perhaps for the first time) and thereby begin to grasp the often-subtle structure of that particular design practice. Understanding the structure of a practice permits many other things to be related to it meaningfully. For example, having grasped the subtle structure of a sentence, the child very rapidly learns to generate many other sentences based on this model though different in content from the original sentence learned. We see this logic as also extending to the practices of art and design.

Theoretically, the activities described as part of this curriculum are grounded in Lev Vygotsky’s (1978) and Jerome Bruner’s (1960) spiral curriculum pedagogy, which views learning as a process of iterative conceptual development mediated via context-embedded activities. On this view, learning does not solely and exclusively happen within the mind of an individual. Learning is a dialectical process situated in meaningful activities with more capable peers (in this case local artisans). By engaging young people in the structured design practices within a professional workshop, we aim to provide a space within which more capable peers will introduce young people to ways of doing (material activities) and ways of thinking (symbolic activities) that accompany their art and design practices. According to the theoretical point of view advanced by this project, both ways of doing and ways of thinking related to a professional practice emerge from situated structured activities that are carried out in collaboration with more capable peers.

Finally, we view the everyday activities of young people within design workshops as holding latent developmental potentials. By means of educational practices specifically planned to encourage an analytical perspective towards the practices of design, we seek to engage developmental pathways among young people and hopefully provide them with a meaningful point of entry into carriers in art and design.


by Luka Lucic