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Day 27/01/2014

Karin Storm Wood joins the team

Karin Storm Wood

Hello, world.

I’m very pleased to be joining the rethinked…* team.

I’m an interactive designer, design educator and newly minted MFA, though my career path initially resembled more closely those of my rethinked colleagues. Left-brainy and interested in the humanities, I went to Yale knowing I wanted to major in English. I spent the better part of my twenties teaching English at the middle- and high-school level — coincidentally at Riverdale Country School, the birthplace of rethinked…*

After six happy years at Riverdale (all before Dominic Randolph began his tenure at the school), I left teaching to pursue graphic design. I had always been interested in design and even took a few design classes in college, but I had never considered it a viable career choice for me. Design seemed like something for other people: namely, more creative people.

Fortunately, design is a profession that requires no formal education or certification. On the strength of some strong undergrad and continuing-ed classes, and confidence in my communication skills in general, I landed positions at a boutique studio in New York and later at NYU. I worked successfully as a graphic designer for seven years.

Eventually, my on-again, off-again flirtation with having the imprimatur of a formal degree won out. In 2011 I enrolled in the MFA program in Communications Design at Pratt Institute, a research- and practice-based graduate program in (primarily) graphic design. My day-to-day experiences as a design student — quite different from my previous experiences as both a learner and a teacher — directly influenced my research. Seen with new eyes, the topic of learning itself fascinated me. Last spring I completed an interdisciplinary Master’s thesis in design that investigated parallels between the learning process and the creative process, as well as similarities in the optimal mindset for each.

At rethinked, I hope to lend the perspective of an educator and a designer, and — as you’ll see — someone who has recently revised her understanding of learning itself.

In installments throughout this week, I’ll be sharing how I reached this perspective.

Until then, I’d like to share a perspective on problem solving that I especially admire — from TED founder and Information Anxiety author Richard Saul Wurman:

When you approach a problem, you must go backward to find the beginning before going forward to find the solution. Seldom, if ever, is the problem correctly stated. The classic, pervasive seduction to designers has been to find a solution instead of the truth.You must be a few steps behind where others usually start when solving a problem if you want to discover the forces behind the problem. Only then can you ask yourself the questions that will lead to productive solutions.

Richard Saul Wurman, Design Quarterly, No. 145, Hats (1989), pp. 1-32

Barbara Kruger On How We Define “Artist” & How That Affects Who Considers Becoming One …*


“I think one of the reasons that I thought about art is that I was one of the few kids in my class–there are always a few–who knew how to draw. And of course it had to do with this replication of the real–that if you had that talent, then you were an artist, which of course is a very simplified way of being an artist. It’s a skill set but it’s not necessarily an art. 

I didn’t think I’d be an artist because I didn’t know anything about art and came from a very poor working class family in Newark, New Jersey. And no one in my family had really gone to college and I certainly didn’t know about the art world or what it might mean to have the luxury of objectifying my experience of the world, stuff like that.”  – Barbara Kruger

How might we reframe the definition of the artist so that all students– not just the few that possess a specific skill set or parents who can afford the time and resources to take them to galleries and museums–may consider and embrace their artistic potential?

How might schools democratize creative confidence?

Source: Barbara Kruger – Design Matters with Debbie Milman Archive: 2005-2009 via Design Observer, published April 13, 2007

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