Making as discovering - what is digital making and why does it matter?


The session showcases five student’s design projects. Each project explores several questions in digital making, teaching practice and student learning.

  • What is digital making and why it matters? (Tutors)
  • During the process of digital making, where and how was the “thinking” happened? (Students)
  • How does the making process inform and inspire participants (Students and Tutors) the creative use of digital design process?
  • Where and how did the teaching and learning happen? (Tutors and Students) How significant this process in nurturing entrepreneurship in creative design industry?

These questions are weaved into these projects where explain how the students and their tutors co-develop and produce their design outcomes through the process of making as “discovering”

The session also looks at how these outcomes inform, reshape the tutor’s pedagogy practice as an interactive and collaborative exercise with their students. The results led to a students and tutors co-develop design agenda where encourage students to produce innovative design products to develop their individual’s entrepreneurship.


The presentation is aimed to help the audiences to capture the objectives of the research subject and its findings during a one-year observation. The presentation will provide a pedagogy framework for those who wants to design a curriculum model in response to current technological trend in design practice.


Traditionally, making is largely understand as a process that convert our idea into an expected outcome. What do you want to make and how do you want to make it? It involves our physical contact with the medium as well as it’s process to achieve the outcome. However, when digital culture starts influence the work of design, digital making process provides a complete different design trajectory and its outcomes are sometime beyond the maker’s expectation and it could be far more open. In this respect, how does it change the spatial design practice and the way we teach them?

The research is based on case study in a design studio called DRS02. It is a teaching studio in an undergraduate Interior and Spatial Design course in Chelsea College of Arts. The design philosophy in this studio are highly driven by the curiosity of current technological culture, emerging design methods and digital tooling. According to this philosophy, the studio develops experimental approaches to inform their teaching practice for student learning. These approaches were taken to helping teachers and learners bridging the gaps between professional and academics when pushing the design boundary for innovative solution. These approaches also help students to develop independent thinking and their philosophy and attitude toward design in the rapidly develop technological landscape.

Although this design studio highly requires advance digital tools to produce their design outcomes, but the tutors insists the process of analogue making is a fundamental key to help students to understand the logic of computation design.

The pedagogic design is blended with hand-on physical model building, critical and analytical evaluation, and digital experiential processing. The outcome of the design is a hybrid and spontaneous pedagogy model which engages students to identify design questions through the process of making, enquiring and discovering. The result, the students in this studio are much equipped to use the digital processes in a more creative way. Why? The research study if the making process helps students to build deeper understanding of the use of digital tools and can develop an intrinsic interest of using them.

Cyril Shing is one of the tutor in this studio. He looks at ten years’ pedagogy development in DRS02. through five student’s projects, the presentation engages audiences to explore the following themes:

Making as Innovating

The presentation use the student’s examples highlight the influence of open source/ platform technology in designing pedagogy. With the nature of the open source technology, it allows users to be creative and experimental to develop, design and custom built digital design tools. It also helps to reframe the idea of making through hacking, interfacing, referencing, cross pollination across the technological landscape. If “making teaching” equal to pedagogy, what could be the form of pedagogy (analogue/digital process) to help students develop innovative products?

Making Sense

These chosen five projects try to evidence the physical and digital making are interrelated and interfering each other. In the case of making, the digital tool which affects the physical product then the product influences the modification of the design tool. This process provide platform to develop hand on, student-centred meaningful learning. It is crucial for students to deepen their enquiry to make appropriate decision when choosing their digital design tool. It is also a key to develop innovative design with their ownership which is the foundation to prepare their mentality of entrepreneurship.

But the presentation also post one question, can one size of pedagogy fit all? What “makes” the effective pedagogy to nurture next generation of designers to take on technological challenges? Can making helps to achieve what truly a student’s-centred learning? This presentation will conclude with a discussion of the nature of digital design culture and current design curriculum.