Every year, the results made by students of the Final Synthesis Design Studio run by DensityDesign Research Lab are showcased in a website that gathers all the material produced during the course. This was the redesign made for the 14th edition of the course (a.a. 2018-2019).
During the course, students have to face ongoing and controversial issues – such as migration, hate speech, misinformation, climate change, etc. – by using Communication Design and Data Visualization to explore the given topic, share research methods and results and finally engage with a public. In this process, students will realize that their perspective is situated in a network of agents and relationships by which a controversy is defined and, at some point, they will also have to place themselves in this network when visually communicating the results.
This idea is what stands behind the course’s motto “You are here” and is borrowed from the social sciences, namely the methodological approach of actor-network theory developed by Bruno Latour and others.
Conceptually the redesign of the 14th edition’s websites lays its foundations on these core concepts and builds on the metaphor of the map, an imagined map where the controversy is the territory and actors and relations are the features of said map. “You are here” is both the ability to orient yourself in the map as well as the realization that you are now a feature of the map.
The inspiration for the visual elements comes from topographic maps with adaptations of grid lines, annotated borders and isohypses. The small dot wondering in the header section of the home page wants to be a reminder of the path followed by students while getting to know their controversy.
I expect next year’s version to evolve and maybe be completely different again, as this is the nature of this course. Every year it’s meticulously reshaped and adapted in order to experiment new ways and improve.