How to navigate a lockdown whilst finishing a [creative] degree.

Just for a bit of framing for the situation, I’ve just finished my degree. Coronavirus precautions and lockdown measures meant ‘we’ (the BA Design @ Goldsmiths class of 2020) were sent home from our studios on the 16th of March 2020. UK lockdown was put in place on 23rd March 2020.

keywords: community, care and goals.

The 3rd year studio before pack-up. 16th March 2020. Sophie and Stan.

“No longer can anything exist in isolation”

– Walter Gropius “The Theory and Organization of the Bauhaus” (1923)

Despite our obvious and pressing concerns of the pandemic, we felt it was paramount to foster community, and continue the Design Department Studio Culture we’d created and been immersed in over our time on the three year programme.

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The designer’s chair.

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“Studio Culture” chair, BA Design 3rd Year Studios

BADIsolation (which stands for BA Design [in] Isolation), the ‘Studio Youtube Channel’ was conceived as a means of doing so by Emily Blake, one of the third year designers in my cohort. We all contributed ‘vlogs’ to the channel over the 12 weeks leading up to our submission deadlines.

(I think they should be called ‘dlogs’ for design-logs)

Emily Blake, introducing the channel.

“There’s this thing that can support each other”

– Emily Blake, Studio Culture: BAD Isolation, Youtube Video, 17 March 2020.

I held onto those videos; I waited for them, watched them, and gobbled them up. They kept me in the studio when we couldn’t be in the studio. I saw parts of my peers I didn’t expect to see, and wouldn’t have had the fortune to see, had it not been for the lockdown and the reclusion of design practice to our bedrooms.

My mind also wandered to the fundamental part of my practice that I was missing out on; people.

Meg at our desks, 16th March 2020.

There’s something special and sacred about having designers around you. You share the space, see eachother’s work, and it’s the conversations had in passing that can make your project. Obviously the designer does the work, and ‘makes the thing’, but there’s intricacies of thought provocation that those conversations provide. I don’t know how else those kind of developments happen.

“The best thing about the RCA was the people and the connections”

Studio Hyte, Summer placement 2019

Perhaps that’s why I lust after the RCA. Everyone I’ve spoken to says the main reason to go is because of who you’ll meet while you’re there, and the type of networking that it allows. And I think can be said for BAD at Goldsmiths, only the lockdown freed many of us from the social cliques that manifested in the studio, and everything being online “flattened the democracy”1 of our collaborations to an extent that we were more powerful.

1Jodi Dean: The Limits of the Web in an Age of Communicative Capitalism

Hey, Look, Something is Happening – BA Design Degree show Identity 2020

“It’s about notions of care”

Laura Potter, methods and strategies for making objects and outcomes within a domestic environment, Zoom Lecture, 30th March 2020

From this experience, we learned to make-do. To care for what we had, and to care for what we were trying to do. But, I also thing that this notion was continued and dissolved into every aspect of our respective practices. Over the live events for our show week for ‘hey, look, something is happening’ I saw some really beautiful outcomes, interactions, and manifestations of the three year experience.

Oli Pratt – Rye Lathe

I saw things I didn’t previously know that people in my year were working towards. But my seeing them was made possible partially because of the youtube channel, and partially because of our ‘virtual show-not-a-show’ but predominantly because of how we designed those live events to facilitate and display the things that we had no other means of displaying. In live, online, “happenings”.

And it was so, so important to have that goal to work towards.

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