2019-20 Working Groups

Working Groups are thinking-and-doing spaces which nurture and introduce emergent topics that are an essential part of MDP’s approach. Each concentrates on a specific topic, project, interest and comprises of a series of meetups across the year – open to all students.


MDP’s 2019-20 Working Groups are:


Mashed, Meme’d, Mixed, and Mulched with Mimi Zeiger
“I am a compostist, not a posthumanist: we are all compost, not post-human.” —Donna Haraway, Making Kin

Mashed, Meme’d, Mixed, and Mulched is an interest group focused on the in-between, the both/and, and the non-binary in design. These include (but not limited to) methods and ideas around mixed reality, new aesthetics, gender, and ecology. Embedded in this group is an additional interest in curation and the skills needed to develop public programming. As a working group, it’s designed to foster participant agency—over the course of two semesters, we will research, conceptualize, and produce a spring event growing out of these compost/collage thematics. This includes inviting speakers, designing and participating in whatever final happening transpires. The group will also have the opportunity to tour and discuss Soft Schindler, an exhibition on view at the MAK Center/Schindler House curated by Mimi Zeiger.

Fresh Briefs with Tim Durfee
The Fresh Briefs working group discusses, researches, and proposes the design briefs of the near future. Much attention is dedicated today to calling our attention to the huge changes facing nearly every aspect of our lives in the present and going forward. In worlds such as design, engineering, business, or politics, the responses to these challenges are often in the form of bold solutions, or opportunistic disruption. But what if these reactions are fundamentally missing the point: that not only are the great forces impacting the world today – climate change, accelerating technology, globalism – creating new problems, but the fundamental needs and desires themselves are changing. Do humans require or desire the same things they did just 5, or 10, or 20 years ago? When we speak in defense of nature, to what ecological state are we imagining we return? Do the forms of governance we assume represent our political options even apply to how societies and economies actually operate today?In design and architecture, a brief or program is a statement that captures the scope of needs that a designer works to address in any given project. The central premise of Fresh Briefs is that even most forward-thinking design today is stuck in the habit of responding to new problems as though the desired end result is – at some literal, or abstract level – essentially unchanged from what it used to be. Rather than focusing on new answers, we need to focus on new questions, new understandings of what people really want and need, new perspectives on our planet, new programs, fresh spanking new briefs.

Machining Civics with Michael Manalo
This working group will be playing in the space of Civic Tech, Al/Machine Learning, and Open Data. Civic technology is meant to enable engagement, participation between the people and government- by enhancing citizen communications and public decision, improving government delivery of service, and infrastructure. We will be discussing and exploring these tropes and themes of Open Data Governance and the contexts that come up when paired with AI and Machine Learning. We will also visit a local So-Cal data science conference and speak with writers and critics, and contemplate the role of the designer in this space.

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