Designers in the Dark – workshop 26/11 RCA


Hi Guys,

so the story with this project is that some friends visited me in Eindhoven while I was presenting the graduation, and we planned to meet up again in London to go to Dialogues in the Dark together.

(Just to clarify: the one in London was focused around a dining experience)

However when it got closer to the time, we saw it was no longer running. Undeterred, I said we are designers, lets make our own version of dialogues in the dark! And thats the long and short of it. So co-creation credits have to go to Tomo, Saki, and Yena. 🙂

Coordinating with google docs, Skype, and messenger we set up a workshop, and booked a room in the RCA.

I designed the graphics and we all pitched in to plan a great evening of Designers in the Dark. Then a bit of online an analogue promotion…

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Come evening time: a little prep, we wrangled-up some last minute participants from among the late working students in the building, and then got them ready for the workshop:

Prep: Fashion Design in the Dark


Material Pile for the main activity of Fashion Design in the dark: designing a costume in the dark! We would use a black plastic bag as a base garment on to which we could sellotape or fasten other materials.


Prep: Food Experience in the Dark

alp01735An assortment of textures, flavours, and smells. Saki here is just testing the eat-ability of the food while I strike a pose. Serious workshop design going on here.

Prep: Sculpture


The Workshop Results:

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So it was dark and a lot of Fun! And there is a sound recording of it somewhere, but I am too lazy to go through 2 hours of it to make a clip for each activity: to be honest I don’t believe it would give you a deeper understanding of the workshop.

Non-sight Sculptures:

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So for the sculptures we used clay but then ended up using the material pool to add extra texture and forms to our sculptures. You have to bear in mind that these sculptures may not look like masterpieces, but they are not meant for sight. They are meant to be touched, lifted, handled. What was a great result was the aromatic spices and orange peel in the clay. It really lifted the soul of unseen sculpture to new dimensions.

The power of smell was really lifted to a new level in the darkness. And also touch. We sat in a circle and passed our sculptures to each other. The probing hand; skin to skin contact in the darkness was a powerful new language. It lifted human communication in the dark to a new level of intimacy. So smell and skin to skin contact are definitely things to explore in more depth if we ever do a dark workshop again.

Fashion Design in the Dark:

So we started with a black bin bag base garment, and armed with tape and probing in the darkness we harvested from the material pool to make our costumes. We worked in pairs, one maker and one model.






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So as you can see we had a lot of fun. Saki was my partner and I decided to transform her by making her big! So in the end she expanded in mass. I got a big carried away and ended up taping everyone else to her. My future design speculation for darkness is that we merge into a single being in the darkness 😉

A side note on Food in the Dark:

Food in dark doesn’t have any visual footprints or results because we ate it! However this was perhaps the weakest activity in the workshop. We didn’t do nearly enough to make it a play of smell, and texture, and to introduce a convincing story or design concept. It was mostly just a snack break.

I think to take it further we should play with hands and touch. So I can imagine having to feel for food in a bowl of water. Having to scoop and hold mush. What I think could be quite good is having to feed each other. This could be accomplished by bracing an arm with a stick above and below the elbow so it can’t fold back, and then having to feed the one on the left or right etc.

We should also take advantage of exploration through mouth. So using misleading textures, or making everything into mush, and making a mush compositions one has to taste to fathom the form of. Something more in this direction…