Display Canadian Design Magazine

Article in Display Canadian Design Magazine about the Education Stream Presentation
Lecture Title: The Vernacular — Who Needs It?

“Giles Woodward commenced the Education Presentations with an exploration into the vernacular, which he defines as the everyday expression of people. His talk, The Vernacular – Who Needs It? A Visual Enquiry into Design Process and Strategy, looks at the vernacular as a strategy that design students can use in their design process and to draw inspiration for their projects.

He asks what design is and what it means to be design competent. What can we, as designers, learn from that communication?

Everyday people communicate effectively without a designer’s intervention. Woodward’s examples include a yard sale sign, DIY mailboxes, or “wash me” handwritten on cars. People use the materials they have at hand to create an effective message. These are unmediated acts that show a directness and fitness to the need, using everyday language and common materials. It’s not about an aesthetic, rather a communication strategy that fits the intention of the message. It is a “necessity-based approach” to problem solving.

Woodward advocates a localized approach to design. The vernacular gives us a strategy for design problem solving, which reinforces the local identity of the audience. It’s about people speaking to people, creating a vibrant environment that reflects the everyday dialect. His examples include street signage that looks like masts to reflect the nearby marina and student projects where materials found within the physical location of the project are used for an advertising campaign. These examples reflect the use of local cultural identity. By looking for inspiration outside of design textbooks and examining what exists right in front of us in the immediate area, the vernacular offers a strategy for design to celebrate local culture and community.”

The conference lecture also appears in an Education Web News article about Pica 11