PDA for Mabelle Arts

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All photos courtesy of the Mabelle Arts Flickr Stream

In the spring of 2011 Public Displays of Affection created a project in collaboration with MabelleArts which is an Islington local community arts organization that aims to improve a large Toronto Community Housing complex in Etobicoke.

More about Mabelle Arts from their website:

MABELLEarts brings together people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to make art, tell stories and creatively transform the place that is Mabelle – a Toronto Community Housing complex in Etobicoke.

For us, urban renewal is a collaborative process of creating culture with the hands, voices and dreams of everyday people. Together we talk, work, play, plant, tell, build, remember, think, sew, eat, celebrate, drawing, sing and mourn, transforming indoor and outdoor, personal and collective spaces in and around Mabelle.

What will PDA be doing?

PDA will be working with the seniors of the Mabelle Arts community to design 4 park benches and 3 park harvest tables for their main project, Park of Many Paths.

To do this we will run workshops with the seniors to engage them in the design of the park furniture.  PDA will create and facilitate 5-6 workshops, to begin early February.  Then, accommodating the standard process that MabelleArts projects are conducted in, Adam Harris and Parimal Gosai of PDA with the help of carpenter Derrick Wheeler will fabricate the furniture off-site.

In a nutshell, the workshops will introduce some of the elements of design and the design process to the seniors – depending on how familiar they already are. The purpose is to discuss how design affects them everyday by looking at an everyday object and working through a critique and re-design with them. This we see happening over 3, 2-hour sessions. The last 2-3 sessions will have the fabricators working with the seniors through the final design of the benches and tables.

Here’s our first crack at what the workshop might look like:

Workshop One:

  • Introductions / some kind of get-to-know-each other activity
  • Critique an object: something they encounter/use everyday:
    • Accessibility issues
    • Ergonomics
    • Design intuition / ephemeral concerns
    • Environmental issues / reuse
    • Social implications (community function, private vs. public, inviting vs. alienating)
    • Aesthetics
  • Form two groups, which they will stay in for the first 2-3 workshops. One group is going to focus on ‘form’ and the other ‘function’.
  • Looking specifically at benches, each group will think about desirable qualities with their primary priority as form or function.

Workshop Two:

  • In their ‘form’ and ‘function’ groups, design a bench:
    • Group discussion and data collection
    • Drawing in groups

Workshop Two-Three:

  • Merge groups:
    • Group critique and discussion on overall desirable qualities of a bench

Workshop Four, Five & Six:

  • Fabricators lead group through the final design of benches and tables:
    • Using the qualities reached through the bench-exercise
    • Thinking about materials, durability, exterior design
    • Building cardboard maquettes to test designs

Post Workshop/Fabrication:

After workshop six we will take a break. The Fabricators can go off to finalize the design and build a model . We can also check in to see if anything was missing or if there is interest to build further on any ideas that come out of the first 5-6 workshops. Fabricators will come back, if needed, to present final designs/models. They will then produce the benches and tables.

Stay tuned for more information on the project as we will be updating our website on a regular basis.

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