JOY Not-The-Schedule

JUNE 20-25, 2010

Vinalhaven, Maine

We cooked up the “not the schedule” by making an inventory of definitions of joy (!) from the questions you articulated and the proposals you made. Here you’ll find some snippets we picked out in an attempt to clarify how threads interconnect, and to give an idea of the dynamics of the week.

sunday: opening joy

> … Intro

Melle Hammer

? … How could I not go? She has me thinking about joy.

> … I could teach you the name game.

John Hines

? … i want to participate because i never address joy in my work …

>… most interested in contributing to the journal …

Kimberly Counes (roving editor/journalist)

monday: framing joy

the discovery of joy / the joy of discovery

! … try to create joy for the masses and you are shackled by the lowest common denominator …

> presentation of examples of discovered joy and how the designer acted as navigator, ambassador or creator

Sean Wilkinson

! … designers are looking for joy and fulfillment in each other …

! … designers are looking to inject art into the everyday and to make it a social act …

Hot Sunday (Amelia Irwin – Nicole Killian)

? how design messages are to be heard by different political and cultural groups

> .conduct a discussion based on different parts of the book ‘happiness hypothesis’ by jonathan Haidt

Eve Faulkes

? investigate questions around motivations towards joyfulness

? what if joy were an option

> developing a taxonomy of joy

Debra Riley Parr

tuesday: locating joy

! … the design of spatial experiences, addresses in significant part the arrangement of a series of events that enables moments of joy for the user …

? to investigate the evidences of joy in the design process

> to perform a study of interactions of the group

! … i believe that joy is not an inherent quality of a designed object …

Meghna Pathak

! … that joyful moment where time stops but the moment is fully present …

? explore interventions that attempt to enchant urban spaces

> presentation and discussion

Lynn Osgood

? joy must be derived from knowing your lifes work

> presentation of the book in all its various forms

Rick Griffith

> font of joy, or not

Satoru Nihei

“Joyful Tweeting”

> I would like to gather a small group of volunteers to experiment with Tweeting from the few spots on Vinalhaven where we can get cellphone/internet reception.

Peter Hall

> proprioceptive writing

Charles Melcher

wednesday: ¿yOJ?

! … i believe that joy cannot exist without some level of pain and that joy can be attained from the pain often associated with a creative process …

> present outcomes – how by bouncing back and forth between the digital and the physical i have been able to find the joy in design i had been looking for.

Kevin Sweet

? does joy represent absence

? is joy the equivalent of recognition of loss

> exhibition ‘bittersweet’

Margo Halverson

! … i believe in the value of play, and that embodied experimentation and the everyday are highly relevant design methodologies …

> i will argue that indeterminacy and conceptual drifting are the root of joyful states of being – where the unfiltered randomness of everyday life creeps in.

Christopher Moore

! … enjoying the process of design itself …

! … using design to create social change …

? to explore the influence play can have on our communities through design

> cliff jumping

Beth Taylor

> presentation about the politics, power, and use of Beethovens Ode to Joy, as demonstrated in Allora & Calzadilla’s performance ‘Stop Repair Prepare: variations on joy for prepared piano’

Rosalind Carnes

? can we empty our mind and be joyful at the same time?

? what is the correlation between joy and sound

Monica Chau

> the joy of creation

Elliott Earls

thursday: designing joy

? is it a problem to be solved or a solution to be experienced

> hands on workshop

Alec Drummond

? i am interested in how joy relates to design and how it can be utilized

! … what brings you joy is a matter of personal preference …

? can better understanding our own experiences and how they relate to others help us produce our own profession

John De Gore

– the topic joy appeals to me because it is at the core of why i teach design

– i have been developing a design pedagogy that aims to better enable student to engage self expression and to develop conceptual and sensory driven intellects. a methodology in which joy is defined as the resultant discovery of freedom and identity

Tonya Stewart

! … Early inquiries into the topic reveal that joy is a moving target. Comprised of X examples, the presentation will attempt to sneak up on joy, throw a butterfly net over its head, and take it back to the barn for some rigorous design exercises

> the x factor

Emily Luce

Low tide gallery

friday: publishing joy

DesignInquiry 2010: Joy, Vinalhaven, Maine, June 20-25

here are your proposals to share



Melle Hammer


John Hines

Positon: No positons

Company: University of Southern Maine

Answering your questions: Not-a-philosopher, I have taught philosophy at the introductory level since 1965. I write poetry. I’m going to designinquiry because Margo invited me. How could I not go? She has me thinking about joy. Last week a student wrote this to me: “an amazing course!” An expression of joy. How can I improve on that? How can I design a better course? I want every student to write “amazing” at the end of the course.

What would I contribute? Hmmm… Multi-colored, many-cloaked joy may be a misnomer. We somaticize, we visceralize, joy. I aim low. I could teach you the name game. I could describe how I design a class. I could talk about Rembrandt’s ‘St. Matthew and the Angel.’ This won’t take much time. I could listen. That might take all of my time.

Kimberly Counes

Positon About to be gainfully unemployed


Born in New York, I spent most of my adult life in Washington, DC before making the choice to go back to school to reintroduce myself to my work and the design community. After spending two years at Cranbrook developing my own work and interacting with many DesignInquiry alums, I am curious and excited to participate. I’m a consummate nerd, madly in love with politics and the news. I’ve worked for both. My design work explores the dance between reportage and propaganda and how the story-telling art from each faction is woven into the mythos of American history.

TOPIC: For me, the subject of JOY is a bit of an anomaly. I want to participate because I never address this in my work. I think it will be a difficult challenge for me as I transition out of grad school and a good way to keep me from reverting back to the habits that inspired me to head back to school in the first place. My tree could use a good shaking, too.

I’d be most interested in contributing to the journal. Incorporating writing into my design practice is a goal of mine and I am would like to chart how the experience affects my thinking and perspectives, as it will force me out of my comfort zone.

Monday: Framing Joy

Sean Wilkinson

Solo designer, soon to be co-principal of a small design/brand collective in Portland.

I attended Maine College of Art in the 90s, knowing that I would be a designer, but not fully appreciating the love I would discover for design and typography. While at MECA, I started working for the ancestor of DesignInquiry, Maine Summer Institute in Graphic De-

sign, as assistant to the director, and I resumed that role last year as assistant to the undirectors of the non-hierarchical founders/board.

As a designer for the past 10+ years, I have worked in firms and as a freelancer, with agencies and with individuals. I’ve developed simple flyers for local musicians and designed new buildings and complete signage systems for ski resorts. No matter what the scope or size, though, the most satisfying design endeavors for me include some notion of Joy. Whether for myself as designer—through the satisfaction of the simplicity of form and communication—or for the consumer/audience as communicated “joy.”


I think that the idea of Joy can be very subjective. We have focus groups, test audiences, and terrible middle-of-the-road unchallenging movies and television programming that all attest to this. Try to create Joy for the masses, and you’re shackled by the lowest common denominator.

However, discovery and surprise are elements of Joy that can transcend through multiple demographics. We see it as the fly in a plastic ice cube from a 1950’s joke catalog. We see it in the insightful, tongue-in-cheek political commentary within Banksy’s covertly executed public art. The designer creates the elements containing the potential energy for Joy.

The consumer creates the reaction when they introduce the catalyst: discovery (and, theoretically, surprise).

I would like to show a short presentation of examples of discovered Joy, and how the designer has acted as navigator, ambassador, or simply creator in the example. How have they created a situation in which discovery will produce joy? Have they led the audience to the moment of discovery? Or have they left it entirely up to chance, relying on the audience to discover Joy themselves, risking that it won’t be found at all?

Then I would like to assign an ongoing project for the remaining time on Vinalhaven. Each person (or team) should create a moment of discoverable Joy. It could be in the living/ workshop quarters. It could be on the road. It could be in the grocery store. Each creator will have the choice of leading their audience to the moment, or leaving the moment to be discovered. The audience (or projected audience) could be a selection of a few people or the entire group. Each creator should also document the moment in some way (writing, photography, video), either undiscovered or during discovery. These can be shared with the entire group at wrap-up, time permitting, or become part of the journal entry.

Does allowing the audience to self-discover create more Joy?

Designer’s Joy vs. Designing Joy vs. Joy Designed

Hot Sundae / Amelia Irwin & Nicole Killian

Positon: A: Art Director N: Student

Company: VIACOM and Cranbrook Academy of Art

Hot Sundae is 50% Amelia Irwin and 50% Nicole Killian. They met 3 years ago while working their design day job at Nickelodeon. After realizing they both had the same beliefs over Degrassi Junior High they decided to join forces to create a new super-powered design duo. Amelia had already been trained at Cranbrook Academy of Art and Nicole decided to do the same. Nicole is currently finishing up her first year of graduate school in Michigan. 50% of Hot Sundae is from the trails of Appalachia and the other half is from the snow piles of Buffalo. 100% of them like kittens, ice cream, drawing, typography, and pizza.

Our work is always a 50/50 collaboration where we try to instill happiness, fun, and positivity into everything. Recently, we created the entire identity system for the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards. We are also teamed up with a not-for-profit group, FIERCE, and the Center for Urban Pedagogy in NYC to create an awareness campaign about keeping West Village parks public. Having heard great words about Design Inquiry from our friends who have been involved, we have always wanted to jump in. The collaborative and intimate nature of the program is something we strive to create for ourselves. The opportunity to work, converse, and get to know a group of designers who share the same desire for community and dialogue is exciting. The theme of JOY seems perfect for us. We love what we do and could never not do it. It’s part of us and makes us happy. We hope to share that happiness with others.


Collectives and collaborations are par for the course this day in age. The prevalence of the modernist myth of the individual solitary genius is slowly declining. Designers are in-

stead pairing up and sectioning off into small groups of like minded creators. Leery of the loss of autonomy one finds in corporations and agencies, yet finding the lone wolf lifestyle less than desirable. Designers are looking for joy and fulfillment in each other. Stemming from a rejection of the alienation of contemporary modern life, designers are looking to inject art into the everyday and to make it a social act. Living, working, conversing, learning and having fun all at once. What a life.

A good collaboration is like a good conversation with a friend. You can ease into it, it can get heated, different view points are shared, you listen you talk, you agree you dis-

agree and then finally you come to a stopping point. Each one more informed and challenged by having gone through the process. This exchange is not something that can occur as a single designer. By collaborating you open yourself up to learn and to be challenged. The act of designing turns into a social exchange and a social occasion. We believe that the route of joy is found in each other and in our ability to relate to one another. We hope to help people find this joy through our workshop.


These ideas could be realized in lecture and/or in workshop form. The lecture will cover the points discussed above. In the workshop portion we would like to bring together unlike designers to create collaborative work. In the workshop we will introduce the participants to contemporary collaborators working in the design field today. We will discuss the value of such a methodology, its successes and its pitfalls. Giving tips and collaboration techniques along the way. We will then break into small groups. Each group will be given a word, phrase, topic that they will act as a starting point for the collaboration. The groups will then go about the collaborative process using techniques that we have shared with them. At the end of the process each team will have created a piece together that is reflective of the groups shared or bitterly opposed beliefs about the given topic.

This collaborative exercise will be documented and put into a independent publication that we are working on concerning design collaborations today. The publication will be a combination of essays, interviews, and work from Design Inquiry as well well known contemporary practitioners whom we are in dialogue with. The end result will be a publication that celebrates, questions, encourages and showcases the awesomeness of collaboration in the design world today.

Eve Faulkes

Coordinator/Professor of Graphic Design

Division of Art and Design, West Virginia University, some work can be seen at

I am the coordinator of Graphic Design at WVU where I have taught for 30 years nearly since graduating with an MFA from RISD. This means I have lived through a number of joys and sorrows and have seen a myriad of the same through students and clients.I choose the joys for focus.I like writing into my art pieces. I am a book artist as well and a would-be sculptor with a penchant for the magic qualities of paper and paper engineering. My books have circulated farther internationally than my design work,and they become a personal voice that allows my graphic design to focus on the voices of the ultimate audience for clients. I am a big naturalist, kayaker, biker, and bring half of the woods back home with me to make work with or just admire.

I am really interested in another step forward in ethnography and how design messages are to be heard by different political and cultural groups than my own. I have been following research of social psychologists who have some theories I feel are exciting for us in this regard. I would love the chance to chat about these over beers or tea. I feel that communicating with those on the other side of issues that affect our ecosystems and human systems are the only way we can make a positive solution. As designers we preach to the choirs oftentimes. I have a couple of ideas about contributions. I should ask about the time you would like an offering to take.

JOY Idea 1

I have been working on some paper headdresses. I think that it would be fun to introduce some basic techniques and then allow the group to use them to translate personal symbols for joy into headgear.If this is too lengthy, then a similar idea could be translated into paper fold cards that pop out surprises of joy. I have knives, cutting matts and could make “kits” that would be pretty portable.

Idea 2

I have been following the work of Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist who was one of the TED speakers. His book called the Happiness Hypothesis, is an excellent read and I feel is terribly pertinent to designers at many points throughout. A couple of ideas that come from his study of all cultures include the ideas of “work”(that feels like a calling) and “love” (that includes giving and receiving) being all you need for satisfaction in life. I would love to conduct discussion based on different parts of this book as it relates to joy and see if we can reach our own hypotheses… perhaps on the model of IDEO brainstorms.

Debra Riley Parr, PH.D.

Associate Chair

Art + Design Department

Columbia College

I grew up in New England, attended college in the west and then graduate school in Boston. I’ve been teaching at Columbia College for the last decade or so, living and working in the middle west city of Chicago. It’s a great place for design thinking and I’ve developed a number of courses that investigate a range of design issues, including those of sustainability and what French theorist Jacques Ranciere calls the distribution of the sensible. Recently I chaired a panel at the College Art Association on the Intersections of Art and Design—this panel brought together historians, theorists, graphic designers, and artists. I am currently completing a book manuscript on youth culture and design, so in that context I’ve been attempting to theorize the idea and practice of joy in design. I’d like to be a part of a collective discussion that pushes design knowing and production beyond the pragmatics of the market (though the market is insidiously creative in its fashioning joy for consumption). I’d like to investigate questions around the motivations toward joyfulness in the face of its other (terror? melancholy? depression?), and think through what the drivers of joy in design might look like. I am particularly interested in the idea of developing a taxonomy of joy.

A QUICK VISUAL/AURAL SURVEY OF THE CULTURE OF JOY (and perhaps its many discontents). From the dishwashing liquid and to the programming language, “joy” as a word and a concept has a curious history. It has been the subject of philosophical inquiry and the theme of many pop songs. The term is even part of the name of my favorite, most melancholic postpunk band, Joy Division (1976-1980). According to Slavoj Zizek, depression—not joy—proves to be the perfect posture for surviving globalized culture. But what if joy were an option? Would it be crass to be joyful in the face of the effects of credit default swaps, in the face of global warming? What would joy in the age of climate change, in the age of transnational economic collapse look like? In order to define (or design) a joy that wouldn’t make us feel all the more depressed, I’d like to stage a friendly competition between different kinds of joy in the same space, at the same time: to determine whether joy is always in visible; whether joy can have a form; whether joy can ever be more than celebratory of the present; whether joy could be a critical strategy.

Tuesday: Locating Joy

Meghna Pathak

I am a Graduate Student in Design at the University of Texas at Austin. I have worked for four years in Branding and Design for Retail Environments, in Mumbai and Singapore respectively. The design of spatial experiences, addresses in significant part the arrangement of a series of events that enable moments of Joy for the user. Working extensively as an environments designer has led me to begin to look keenly upon the attributes of spaces that enabled them to transcend their physicality. I am interested in the study of the elements that transform a space into a place – rich with diverse meanings to its users.

My graduate research explores primarily the arena of place making for communities, the study and design of places that enable users to situate themselves within their larger socio-cultural context. With this purpose, I am currently working on designing a ‘Third Place’ for a student co-operative, and on developing a web application that enables users to reference places of meaningful association to their communities / networks. The process of synthesis for both projects looks intimately at the relationships users form with places – both physical and virtual – and the elements that enable organic interaction. I have realized, that the most effective places hold social identity over spatial form – and in this offer the users a multitude of organic relationships that hold the potential to afford users joyful experiences.

TOPIC: If offered the opportunity, I would bring to the conference my experience as a designer of spaces – and the intent to investigate the evidences of joy in the design process. I would like to perform a sketched & photographic study of the interactions of the group at the site – looking specifically at these with reference to the spaces they occur around. The intention of the study would be to observe and document the unique place identity of this design inquiry that is enabled by its site and participants concurrently.

I would also like to conduct a small workshop with the participants of the conference if possible, that explores using ‘available’ elements to organize / create a temporary place installation that is meant for their interaction – and extended porch if the analogy be drawn. The exercise would encourage the group to interact with the island, its geography, material and their own story to create a place meant uniquely for their experience. This merging of designer and consumer into one, enables an opportunity to examine the entire process of the place’s life – from conception to use – and at first hand record the evidences of joy therein and what they imply to the larger topic at hand.

It is in this avenue that my interests in the topic of JOY and indeed place-making lie, for the purposes of this workshop / conference. The site of the conference is rich ground for studying how the group chooses to interact, and the specific attributes of the place that enables / appends these interactions. The group of participants becomes a community brought together by a common purpose, and the site of the workshop a unifying form that each participant will relate to with regards to their experiences for years to come.

As a student, I believe that I stand to learn much from interacting with the community of design practitioners and educators at the conference. The topic of the conference holds the potential to inform my graduate research immensely.I believe that Joy is not an inherent quality of a designed object. However, a designed object holds the potential to enable its users to encounter and create joyful experiences. Concurrently, the potential of a designed object is rarely removed from the process of its making – and it is this process, that holds the greatest potential for joy – for the designer as well as the user.

The works of Carlo Scarpa, Geoffery Bawa and Andy Goldsworthy, are examples of a methodology of design (and art) that enables and requires the designer to be intimate with the very material of the designed solution. It is a methodology of site responsiveness that enables the designed object to be a solution that is completely specific to its physical & social context. I believe that this is when the designed experience, enabled by its contextual references, is able to address its larger program. It begins to be more than an effective solution; a unique indelible experience for the user – redolent with potential for ‘joyful encounters’.

Lynn Osgood

Position: landscape designer and planner – currently interdisciplinary doctoral student at University of Texas, at Austin

The focus of both my work and play is ENCHANTMENT – that joyful feeling where time stops but the moment is fully present – that area of space and time when thinking only seems to get in the way. In my research I look at the ways in which enchantment creeps into (or more overtly tries to take over) our public spaces. Whether it is a 200 person rendition of the Sound of Music in an Antwerp train station or the creation of small dioramas in a neglected streambed – enchantment has become a very public mode of engaging our urban spaces.

TOPIC: During JOY I will lead a presentation and group discussion that will explore a number of different contemporary “interventions” that attempt to enchant urban spaces. After looking at the events in terms of the experiences they intend for their audiences (both far and near) we can compare them to historic “interventions” done at the height of picturesque landscape design in Europe where designers and theorists also attempted to help their audiences achieve a certain state of reverie through their words and designs. By looking at the two together we can examine what is timeless and what is “time-full” about today’s performances and the digital realm though which we experience them.

Gabrielle Esperdy / Anita Cooney

Gabrielle Esperdy is an architectural historian and critic and Associate Professor of Architecture at the New Jersey Institute of Technology . Her work examines the intersection of architecture, consumerism, and modernism in the urban and suburban landscape, especially in the U.S. She is particularly interested in minor or everyday buildings and in the ways that social, economic, and political issues shape the built environment, both historically and today. Her first book, Modernizing Main Street: Architecture and Consumer Culture in the New Deal, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2008. She is currently at work on her second book, tentatively titled Architecture’s American Road Trip, which examines how architectural discourse absorbed the ideals and concerns of commercial sphere after World War II. Gabrielle’s articles have appeared in the Journal of Architectural Education, the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Perspecta, the History of Photography, and Architectural Design, among others . She has also contributed to Design Observer, Core77, and the DesignInquiry Journal. She blogs at

Anita Cooney is Chair of the Interior Design Department at Pratt Institute where she is s professor in the School of Art and Design. Her design firm, acoo designs, focuses on the space of the everyday with projects ranging from residential to the workplace.


Our collaboration will explore architectural joy by uncovering and organizing its infrequent historical and contemporary manifestations. Our premise is that architecture, as discourse and practice, has been so preoccupied with its responsibilities to health, safety, and welfare that it has generally overlooked concerns that are the domain of joy. By focusing on the pragmatics of problem solving around program, structure, cost, etc. architecture frequently fails to engage emotion, pleasure, and the sensual realm. Whether intentionally or accidently, architecture has excluded joy from its critical project. As a result, those rare instances of deliberate architectural joy are regarded with suspicion by architecture’s dominant culture. By revealing joy’s architectural archaeology and taxonomy, we hope to provide a manual for making the built environment more joyful.

Peter Hall

Senior Lecturer in Design, University of Texas at Austin

Framer, DesignInquiry

Peter Hall is a design critic, and teaches design theory, history and journalistic methods of research and writing in a transdisciplinary design program at UT Austin. His research focuses on mapping as a design process. He has been a contributing writer for Metropolis magazine since 2000 and has written widely about design in its various forms, including gaming, elevators, building graphics, bridges, neon lights and office chairs, for publications including Print, I.D. Magazine, The New York Times, and The Guardian. He taught a seminar class on design theory and writing at Yale School of Art between 2000 and 2007. He wrote and co-edited the books Else/Where: Mapping – New Cartographies of Networks and Territories, Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist, Sagmeister: Made You Look and Pause: 59 Minutes of Motion Graphics.


I would like to gather a small group of volunteers to experiment with Tweeting from the few spots on Vinalhaven where we can get cellphone/internet reception. The aim would be to spend a few minutes in these places making observations of the things around us, and sending them, via twitter, with a #DIJOY marker. The writing mode would be inspired by the Mass Observation group founded in the UK in the 1930s (I’ll bring examples), but with a slightly more Buddhist take, that joy is to be found in the act of observing the unremarkable, everyday things around us.

Rick Griffith

Director, MATTER /

I’m a British West-Indian born and raised in London, with 15 years in Denver and the ten years previous on the East Coast DC/NYC (80’s punk). I’m a self-trained designer/typographer, who has been submersed in a type centric practice. I’ve been teaching type and design since 1996 as an adjunct for the various universities in Denver. CU Denver and DU.

The studio is based in part in Taliesen West (FLW) and the early incarnation of Muriel Cooper’s Lab at MIT, (with 5 creative staff, 4 admin), we have 7 printing presses in the studio—2 offset, 3 letterpress and 2 screen printing (textile and paper) we are a stable staff and we are getting traction from both our local community and the type community to have more dynamic conversations regarding design practice and the application of design thinking in our civic lives. I curate and design exhibits, make books, print, design and cook.

I’m coming because it’s a good time for me to incubate with other professionals with broad experience and broad models of professional practice, there are few practice driven conferences that offer the types of conversations I need right now. Last year I found myself asking what’s next in this? My interest in the topic Joy connected to the idea that — Joy must be derived from knowing your life’s work? mustn’t it?

TOPIC: Firstly, I can cook, I admit that cooking is a fourth love to my appreciation for design, film, and music. I enjoy talking and cooking. I have tools/skills worth collaborating with, both on a secluded island and later in real life.

I’m working on a book/exhibition about letterpress collections, collectors and printer designers. I’ll be starting the book in video. I’d like to present the book in all of it’s various forms for critique, and discussion it is very much concerned with the men and women who love letters. Their joy and mine with type. The models of their lives and the breadth of their influence.

Satoru Nihei

Here is my brief bio below and the longer one is on my site (just refresh the browser until you get the right background to be able to read the text on it).

Satoru Nihei is a graphic designer, currently a MFA candidate in the 2D department at Cranbrook Academy of Art.

For the topic, I will bring something to the table, but I haven’t decided yet. What I want to do may not be even about a font or graphic design.

Charles Melcher

Associate Professor, Graphic Design, Maine College of Art

Designer, Co-owner, Alice Design Communication

Charles Melcher studied graphic design at Yale University School of Art to broaden and amplify his experience making ideas come to life in visual form. His first professional connection to communication comes from his experience teaching creative writing since 1991 while he exhibited his photography nationally and internationally. He is currently Associate Professor at Maine College of Art and chair of the graphic design department. He received his BFA in photography from Massachusetts College of Art, his MFA in graphic design from Yale. Charles continues to do commercial and personal photography, teach writing, and together with Margo raise Jack and Cora, now astoundingly busy and independent kids who mostly need chauffeurs and cooks.

TOPIC: Workshop: Proprioceptive Writing is a writing method that helps synthesize emotion and imagination generating authentic insight and joy.

Wednesday: ¿yoJ?

Kevin Sweet

Assistant Professor of Architecture

American University of Sharjah

I am a registered architect from New Mexico who is currently teaching architecture at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. I received a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from the University of New Mexico and my Masters of Architecture from Columbia University. Having been involved in both professional practice and academia, it became clear to me that the joy I experienced in the design and creation of a building was surpassed only by the act of teaching others how to achieve the same. As invigorating as practicing architecture may be, nothing has compared to the academic environment where creativity, inspiration and the love of design is raw and pursued with genuine passion.

TOPIC: My interests in the topic of “Joy” are twofold: First and foremost is the dichotomy of joy and pain. I believe that joy cannot exist without some level of pain and that joy can be attained from the pain often associated with a creative process. Design and the objects born of the design process often endure growing pains in their attempt to find fruition. The search for ideas and inspiration, the frustration of a process that risks the possibility of never yielding desired results, and complete failures can certainly lead to pain of one sort or another, whether emotional, physical or financial. But it is the endurance, the perseverance and the emergence from a painful process as well as the recovery from bitter failures that provoke a unique sense of joy. Perhaps this is joy in achievement or self-satisfaction, or perhaps this is joy in simple creative potential, innovation and a celebration of human ingenuity.

My second interest in the DesignInquiry topic of “Joy”is that it offers the perfect compliment and transition to what will be the most joyous day of my life: I will be getting married to a partner with whom I share joy in design, teaching and life. Having struggled through the pain and failure of previous relationships, I have found my joy in the success of this one. It is only because of enduring pain and failure that I truly know, without a doubt, that June 26 will be the most joyous day of my life.

Topic of discussion:

Digital tools have always provided me with a quality of perfection that I could never manage to achieve through analog, hand-working methods. My interest in digital design has motivated me to continuously seek new digital methods that satiate my obsession to achieve this state of “perfection”. Over time, however, I have come to understand that this perfection is in fact an illusion as physical creations manifest themselves differently in reality than they do in the virtual environment. The reality of imperfection results from tolerances incurred during construction, variable material properties, and the erosive processes that alter the “precision” of the computer. While digital fabrication techniques provide a tremendous level of complexity in process and outcome, machines have their limits. Typically speaking, limits are expressed in a lack of precision of craft and what could be considered to be blemishes in the final product.

Recently, in a moment of clarity, I had the realization that the imperfections of craft –both in digital and analog outputs–were not in complete contradiction to my obsession but in service to it. Embracing the “imperfections” of construction, materials, and the human hand as a welcome sign of individuality and creation, I have come to learn and appreciate that the transition from the virtual to physical realm adds a layer of tactility or sensuality not possible with digital tools. Through embracing this philosophy my methodologies have seen a vast transformation as I began to move my work from the digital world out to the physical world and back again. By bouncing back and forth between the digital and the physical I have been able to find the joy in design I had been seeking for so long.

Within the discussion of “Joy” at DesignInquiry I will present examples of the outcomes of this philosophy through my own work and through the work of my students who I encourage to find the same sense of satisfaction and joy in this process.

Margo Halverson

Professor, Graphic Design, Maine College of Art

Designer, Co-owner, Alice Design Communication

Co-founder, Framer, DesignInquiry Portland, Maine

I am co-owner of Alice Design Communication 1998–present with Charles Melcher. My love of words together with the narrative power of the photographic image led me to the world of typography and graphic design. I received a BFA and MFA in photography from Arizona State University where, post-graduation, I studied graphic design with Rob Roy Kelly. I am currently Professor of Graphic Design and Program Chair at Maine College of Art. I grew up in North Dakota and, after moving to the east from Arizona, I still miss living in grids within the landscape of flat, white, horizontal bands interspersed with telephone poles and shelterbelts. This space taught me that the subtle shapes, colors, and rhythms of a rural Scandinavian life may embody JOY, but it is transitory and found only from within.


William Blake wrote that two opposing emotions such as fear and joy “expand and contract in direct relation to the presence of the other.” He suggested that we cannot feel joy and total fear at the same time and this is why real joy is the absence of fear. Does JOY represent absence? Is JOY then ‘without’? Is JOY simply the equivalent of recognition of loss? Do we agree that JOY and its opposite may not be embodied as simultaneous, or does joy exist only in presence and amplification of its opposite? What might a photograph hold that suggests a transient connection to unrestrained gestures that evoke JOY?

I want to propose an introduction and exhibit of photographs that represent a dichotomy between joy and opposites — joy & fear, joy & sorrow — bittersweet images that represent the simultaneous presence of a freeing experience and its opposite that recognizes and embodies JOY.

The pain I feel now is the happiness I had before. That’s the deal.

C.S. Lewis

Yet from those flames

No light, but rather darkness visible.

Paradise Lost, John Milton

Christopher Moore

Position: Assistant Professor of Design & Computation Arts

Company: Concordia University


I am a maker of things, a storyteller, an educator, and a student full of questions. These roles manifest in a practice that ranges from commercial publication to sculpture and media-based installation—a liminal research profile that challenges the traditional disciplinary classifications of academia. Throughout my 11 years of teaching, I have been fortunate to locate like-minded colleagues who share a passion for social engagement, and who eschew the narrow definitions and historical baggage of what constitutes “legitimate” research. I believe in the value of play, and that embodied experimentation and the everyday are highly relevant design methodologies. The topic of “Joy” is a natural connection to my philosophical approach to design scholarship.

TOPIC: Joy is elusive, fleeting, and unexpected. It desires to be found, but provides an incomplete atlas to those who pursue its presence.

Using a variety of Internet applications—Google Maps/Images, Second Life, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and other social media applications—I have embarked on a journey to locate, isolate, and study the phenomenon of “joy.” My presentation will focus on how emerging interfaces are increasingly designed to streamline, disambiguate, and anticipate our desire without the “useless” distractions of unrelated content diversions. I will argue that indeterminacy and conceptual drifting are the root of joyful states of being, where the unfiltered randomness of everyday life creeps in. Joy to me represents wonder, amazement, and a renewed sense of creative urgency—the kind which transcends corporeal impulses in service of a design nirvana.

A follow-up activity will emulate the online search process using an enacted, analogue model. Participants will be assigned individual “joyful” destinations on the island, but lack specified directions. Following an idiosyncratic route, each member will record moments of joy—both macroscopic and microscopic in scale. In reference to Zen k?ans, labyrinths, and myriad traditions of spiritual journeys, participants will discover arrival at one’s prescribed destination to be less fulfilling than the experience.

Beth Taylor

GD MFA Candidate

Maryland Institute College of Art

Principal: Longstocking Design

I truly value the simplicity of evoking feeling in a viewer/client/participant, as do I find importance in enjoying the process of design itself. I strive to make my work friendly and approachable, and am deeply invested in using design to create social change. I work in a wide variety of media, including folded paper, thread, textiles, letterpress, silkscreen, digital, and stop-motion animation.

I would like to attend the Design Inquiry’s Joy workshop in order to engage with other designers who value the importance of play, and to explore together the influence play can have on our communities through design.

I am currently enrolled in an MFA program in Graphic Design at MICA. I am deeply engaged in design thinking, and am working hard to figure out how design fits into a world outside of commerce.

I work to maintain a joie de vivre, and remain constantly aware of the temperature of my perspective. And I strive to play fearlessly, and encourage others to do so too.

The piece I can contribute then is an attitude. A romp on the beach with my dog Whiskey, the late-night climb of a tree, or a bike across town to find the breeze from the east are the things that feed me. And from these my design work develops.

PRESENTATION ABSTRACT: Jumping into water from cliffs bridges the line where fear and pleasure cross. I will lead the group down to the quarry. While there, program participants will engage in a curated cliff-jumping project. I will document the experience thoroughly through photography and word play.

Though one of my favorite summer activities, I am unable to jump anymore due to back injuries. At once defeating, I am able to transcend that disappointment by appreciating everyday function, and will similarly experience joy by creating a new experience of enjoyment for others. The additional documentation of this project will hope to inspire the viewer to enjoy their physical freedom and, well, just jump right in.

Elliott Earls

the joy of creation

Rosalind Carnes

I initially thought that my summer would take me to either India or Austin, but I just caught word that I received the Stewart W. Thomson Fellowship to attend a workshop at Hay stack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine. I’ll be taking the paper workshop with Beatrice Coron July 18–30. Super excited. I know it might be a little late, but I was wondering if I could make it the perfect summer by coming to DI this summer. If there is a spot for me, I could come early and stay late to help with any of the administrative/ logistical details— I would have plenty of downtime between DI and Haystack for helping where help is needed.

As far as the DI theme goes, I’ve been thinking about putting a presentation together about the politics, power, and use of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, as demonstrated in Allora & Calzadilla’s performance Stop, Repair, Prepare: Variations on Ode to Joy for a Prepared Piano. I can get into further detail with the presentation description if you like— right now I am just in the beginning stages of research.

Monica Chau

Positon: Installation artist and web designer


I am a project-based installation artist with an MFA in photography from CalArts. With the exception of Western Colorado, I have lived near coastal areas (Houston, L.A., NYC) for most of my life. These days I’ve been more actively working as a web designer than cultivating my true passion, art, since I moved to Maine four years ago. Because I have not been as deeply, nor actively engrossed in my art, about two and a half years ago, I decided I would spend at least one week of every year engaged in an intense creative endeavor. One summer I received a scholarship to attend a Golan Levin workshop at Anderson Ranch Arts Center to learn the programming language especially tailored for artists called, Processing. This class was inspirational and I feel there is great synergy when creative people gather, so if chosen to be a DI participant, I’m interested in recapturing the spirituality and essence of what I experienced, whether it was from an art workshop, from when I was in grad school, or artist residencies I’ve been participated in. Though in DI, I’m also looking forward to being part of, as well as a contributor to, that creative energy.

TOPIC: I would so love to travel to the Being Here session, but feel I would either not be organized enough in advance, have sufficient funds, or the time to adequately appreciate that special place, Marfa. Instead, I request to participate in the Joy session. I am always trying to insert visceral qualities into my artwork, so on Vinalhaven, I would be interested in exploring…

  • the question, “can we empty our mind and be joyful at the same time”?
  • the connections between viscerality and visuality?
  • how joy is sparked/influenced by the 5 senses?
  • what is the correlation between joy and sound?

Though photography and installation are my usual mediums, I am especially interested in discovering the nature of joy through sound during this one week endeavor. I propose to record a series of sounds, perhaps taken from my time on Vinalhaven and other sounds I will have previously recorded using a small portable audio device, eg. DAT recorder or iPod with recording capabilities. I have also worked collaboratively with artists and within artist collectives, so depending on the willingness of the group, if there were enough recording devices, perhaps others would desire to collaborate on collecting sounds. Sound can have a myriad of cultural references, so it would be interesting to see what transpires through this exploration. The collection would then be edited (using my Mac laptop) and be presented as individual, single pieces or could be accompanied by spare visuals. I’m particularly interested in the process of making work, rather than the final outcome, so I’m not sure if the final iteration would be as a web/Internet piece, or an installation, but certainly I would make a brief presentation of the work-in-progress at the end of the week.

I had difficulties accessing the DesignInquiry site (there are broken links to the archived sections) to further brainstorm how I could contribute, but skill-wise, I’m fluent in a variety of mediums and have taught web design and digital media courses for many years. Should there be additional interest in my organizing a workshop (topic to be further discussed?), I’d be glad to lend my skills in any of those arenas.

I learned about DesignInquiry when my former studio mate, Broo Temple, spoke of it, then participated in the 2007 workshop. Since then, I’ve desired to attend as well. I’ve always been seduced by the enigmatic topics, camaraderie, ghosts (or so I’ve heard), and lure of a week-long interval on a beautiful Maine island, but time, scheduling, or (the lack of) money, always got in the way. I’m hoping, however, that 2010, will be my lucky year.

Thursday: Designing Joy

Alec Drummond

Positon CoFounder

Company: BioLite Stove

Website Stove:


I am an painter and product designer. Before moving to Austin I worked for Smart Design part time as a prototyper and general mechanical engineering and design problem solver while painting the rest of the time. Before Smart Design I designed and build sculptural lighting and helped found Shinola Lights in Brooklyn. Before and during my 20+ years in NYC I lived in Denmark for a few years as a guest artist. Before I left Smart for Austin I developed wood burning camp stove that used a semiconductor to generate electricity to increase the combustion efficiency. My partners and I are currently working towards getting funding to design a stove for developing countries where the need for high efficiency low emission cook stoves is great. Please see articles for general information. _ source=feedburner&utm _ medium=feed&utm _ campaign=Feed:+GearFactor+(Blog+-+Gadget+Lab+(Gear+Factor))

I was invited to DesigInquiry by Peter Hall who suggested that because of my “hands on” approach to design I might offer a different perspective to the creative process of design. For me the retreat also seems like a great opportunity to meet other like minded people and be exposed to their ideas and approach inspired by the idea of Joy. As a designer and artist I have found that my most inventive or inspired moments are when I get lost to the creative process and allow things to happen with the materials and process that no amount of preconception could suggest. This is why I still often rely on working with my hands and the immediacy of the materials to find solutions and ask questions. Maybe one of the biggest questions for me is with discipline of design where when one is asked to solve a problem within certain constraints how do you balance those demands with chance and self expression which is where I believe is the basis to that moment surprise and joy.


Question: Is it a problem to be solved or a solution to be experienced?

Start with a brief presentation of past and present design and art work that was particularly inspired by the uniqueness of the material and process. Along with the slides I would like to explain the circumstances and ideas behind these projects and talk about how I find inspiration and that moment of what could be described as joy in the process and how it manifests itself in the object.

If time and circumstances allow it might be fun to organize a hands on project that utilizes and finds inspiration in what’s available. For example, using a simple votive candle as a light source find materials at hand around the farm and island and create a holder that plays with the light from the votive.

John Degore

Positon: Graphic Designer (on site at Heinz North America)

Company: Prisma Inc.


I’m a board member of the AIGA Pittsburgh chapter, and I work as part of an in-house team for Heinz North America. We workon a variety of project from product concept to in-store displays. The majority of work is print marketing materials. The in-house environment usually does not offer you a chance to work on an abstract thought provoking subject. My reason for coming is to interact on a project out side of my comfort zone and learn. I’m interested in how joy relates to design, and how it can be utilized.

TOPIC: Most accounts of experiencing joy are on a personal level. What brings you joy is a matter of personal preference. This preference is built from your own experiences in life. These experiences forge how each individual experiences joy . Everyone will be asked to share a moment of joy from their childhood and one from their adult life. Each individual will receive 2 4” x 6” note cards to express their moments. How each individual chooses to express these moments of joy is up to them and only limited by the supplies on hand and the size of the cards. Once finished everyone will post his or her post cards. On the left side will be the childhood moments of joy and on the right the adult . We will take some time to observe everyone’s experiences. Then each person will asked to connect their moments of joy with a piece of purple string. The next step will be to make connections between our childhood moments, using pieces of blue string to connect similar experiences. Then repeat that step with our adult experiences using red string. Finally we will analyze the information and have a discussion. Joy is a motivator, does how we express it relate to we perceive it? Can a better understanding of our own experiences and how they relate to others help us produce in our profession? I would plan on photographs being taken once the cards are hung up and after the connections are made. Also key points and discoveries made would be recorded, and if space permits, displayed with a projector next to our wall of joy.

Tonya Stewart

Position: Assistant Professor of Design

Company: American University of Sharjah, UAE


I am an artist/designer and Professor of Design at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. Having taught in the U.S. for a short while before relocating to the Middle East, I have been teaching at the American University of Sharjah for three years where I currently teach courses in Interior Design, Materials and Processes and the Foundation Design program.

My professional and educational background includes exhibition design, furniture design (BFA: RISD) and sculpture (MFA: Cranbrook Academy of Art). Creative pursuits as of late have been limited to the production of drawings and various forays into academic research.

The topic “Joy” appeals to me because it is at the core of why I teach design, and because, for whatever reason, I have never before consciously explored these ideas. While I adamantly place value on teaching the cultivation of joy in the design process I do not foresee having the opportunity to discuss these ideas with my colleagues at the American University of Sharjah. The potential outcomes of these discussions feeds intrigue. I believe that my experiences as both a designer and design educator will provide a positive addition to the discussions, interactions and projects that occur at Design Inquiry in Vinalhaven.

A side note: I feel as though I stumbled upon Design Inquiry and the topic of JOY as a matter of serendipity. My fiancé, Kevin Sweet (also a professor at the American University of Sharjah) and I will be getting married in York, Maine on June 26. I can think of no better way to start a marriage together than to have the opportunity to engage in a community of like-minded people with the focus of JOY at hand .

The students enrolled in the College of Architecture, Art and Design at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates come from many places: They come from Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Afghanistan, India, Egypt and from the UAE itself. Whether the students have been brought up in a pampered existence, or whether they have fled as refugees from a war-torn country, their creative and expressive capacities are overwhelmingly undernourished when they enter into the Design curriculum. While the teaching methodologies that formed their pre-university education have typically been founded on rote memorization and have entailed a lack of encouragement in regards to individuality, a comprehensive design education requires students to venture into unmapped territories where they are asked to resolve problems that do not have specific answers; where solutions elude the systematic, linear and prescribed craftiness of a mathematical equation and, instead, rely on creative approaches and the foresight of locating new possibilities.

It is within this context I have been developing a design pedagogy that aims to better enable students to engage in self-expression and to develop conceptual and sensory-driven intellects. “Joy” is perhaps the best way to articulate the effects of this methodology in which joy is defined as the resultant discovery of freedom and identity achieved from engagement in the creative design process .

Citing examples of methods applied to the creative process from studio courses involving students of Architecture, Interior Design and Visual Communications at the College of Architecture, Art and Design where this pedagogy was explored, I intend to locate and reflect on ways in which joy is achieved in design education. A discussion to this end will invariably encompass more than a focus on the pedagogy itself as it is inextricably tied to issues of cultural awareness and self-reflection. I look forward to sharing these ideas with the participants at Design Inquiry and learning from their insights and observations.

Emily Luce

Position: Professor, New Media

Company: University Lethbridge

Emily Luce prefers to work within the margins of typographic and cultural research. Previous projects have included typography of U.S. Car Number Plates, the graphical language of protest posters; and ongoing commitments as a member of Hupačasatč First Nation Language Team of British Columbia. This work has led to the publication of ten language preservation projects in Nuučaančuč as well as the Confederation of Alberta Faculty Association’s Early Career Award.

Emily spends her time in western Canada, where, when she’s not teaching New Media at the University of Lethbridge, she is restoring a Westman & Baker letterpress.


Early inquiries into the topic reveal that joy is a moving target. Comprised of X examples, the presentation will attempt to sneak up on joy, throw a butterfly net over its head, and take it back to the barn for some rigorous design exercises.

low tide gallery

Friday: Publishing Joy