Intersection | Connection | Alliance | Transcendence: Studio Pedagogy Informed + Inspired via Indigenous Culture

Modern times move at breath-taking speed with intense pressures to elevate performance based on assumptions that faster is finer, bigger is better and more is more. Education embraces these measures of progress and metrics of success, with expectations that students meet tight deadlines, produce in quantity and compete for attention, resources and accolades. Studio education is distinctive in higher education with a model of individualized mentoring, iterative exploration, reflective practice, tacit knowing and an equilibrium of intuitive with rational, creative with analytical, and art with science. This roundtable considers a unique studio focused on a ‘centre for Aboriginal culture’, having students design a project for an extraordinary community of users|clients, bringing those individuals into resonance with designers, and fostering a climate where ‘seeing through the eyes of the other’ was fundamental to process and to shaping the generation and resolution of products. Methods included literature work, critical assessment of precedent, experts|stakeholders engagement, cultural immersion (including sacred rituals), and guidance of Elders. This intense, innovative, demanding and complex comprehensive design studio exposed students to rich history, deep culture, and strong values of indigenous peoples while concurrently revealing tragic dimensions of their journey. Understanding design problems from a ‘foreign’ perspective, gaining insights into different notions of chronology, synchronicity and spatiality, and slowing down the pace to meaningfully connect, contemplate and create, proved central to the definition, development, progress and success of the educational journey and learning outcomes. Harmony was essential: individual with collective; competitive with collaborative; objective with subjective; thinking with feeling; and digital with analogue. In the end economic, environmental, social, cultural and spiritual dimensions came together in an ethos of holism, connectedness and meaning. Pause – Reflect – Reconsider – Reach – Attain.