Discovering a new environment through experimentation

MDEF students on a research trip in the region of Cerdanya

  • Apr 29, 2024

Each year the students of the Master in Design for Emergent Futures are offered the opportunity to connect to a unique landscape and ecosystem. In previous years of the Master’s program, students visited locations such as El Hierro (Canary Islands), Mallorca (Balearic Islands), and Shenzhen (China). 

This year they went to la Cerdanya, a border region between Catalonia and France, where, gathered in a house surrounded by lush gardens, MDEF students embarked on their week-long exploration. 

With the guidance of a local host and the collaborative efforts of the MDEF faculty, participants delved into a series of local activities, from hands-on craft sessions to immersive nature walks. What connected all the activities and visits and set the approach to them, was a workshop led by Thomas Duggan, spanning throughout the week. The workshop was set in the context of the location, where each participant was encouraged to discover the environment through their senses, just like a child would. It provided students with the time and space to experiment and connect with their passions and interests. Just as Thomas did in last years workshops in Mallorca and El Hierro, he held everyday sessions with the students to support them in their experimentations, inspire them, and help them with the techniques and tools they selected to experiment with. 

Crafting Connections with Nature

At the heart of the experience was a deep connection to the land. Through activities led by locals such as mountain hikes and nature observation, grafting fruit trees, and exploring the medicinal properties of local plants, participants gained knowledge related to the rich biodiversity of Cerdanya. 

Exploration Beyond Boundaries

Participants were encouraged to explore their passions, whether it was working in the analog photography space or experimenting with clay in the pottery workshop. The goal was simple: to disconnect from daily life and projects in the classroom, and instead embrace something new by immersing themselves in an unknown environment. 

Community Engagement and Shared Experiences

As the week drew to a close, participants gathered to showcase their creations. From exhibitions to video projections, each presentation offered a unique glimpse into a creative process and showed the importance of stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. All villagers were invited to join the project presentations and share their points of view, enriching the experience of everyone involved and blurring the boundaries between participants and the local community. 

Curious for more? Read about last year’s research trip here.

Apr 29, 2024