Nationally and internationally, forests are used and valued in different and evolving ways. Conversations about their future are taking place, but we feel that it is necessary to expand these dialogues. We feel that, as designers, we can provide creative insights and help to foster connections and collaborations between the many interested parties.
We believe that only through immersion in a place or problem can you hope to understand it. While this should include traditional research, we believe that designers need to engage in a dialogue with members of any community they are working in. This dialogue may be through formal events or the daily informal interactions that come with living in a place. We also believe that through self-directed exploration—on foot, on bike, on public transport, even in a car—a designer can see and understand the environment in a deeper and more productive manner.
These beliefs are at the heart of Designers and Forests. We feel that getting out into the forest is the first step of research. During Beetle Kill and Aspen Die-Off, participants engaged in a carefully considered expedition based workshop. They not only learned about the forests issues, but how to set up a tent, when to filter water, and how to scavenge for mushrooms.
We believe that the best ideas come with time. Experience requires reflection—in the form of discussion and contemplation— to be productive. The participants in Beetle Kill and Aspen Die-Off took time over the intensive workshop to discuss their observations and thoughts. They then left Utah to return to their studios and workshops, continuing their dialogue. Over the course of several months, their ideas were able to develop.
“Everyone sees things differently after having been in the woods.”
After their experiences in the summer of 2013 and the discussions and contemplation that followed, workshop participants in Beetle Kill and Aspen Die-Off realized their designs in their own studios. They were able to collaborate with their existing creative network, drawing on an even greater body of skill and knowledge. They created their own design solutions prompted by the expedition and using materials, techniques, and motifs they discovered while in Utah.
Some solutions are intended to spark discussion, others are meant to inform. Some exist as stand-alone products, others are intended as prototypes for individuals and communities to follow. We believe that response can even take the form of further discussions and as sharing our findings and process with other individuals looking for approaches to address their own communities and environments.