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The Art of Critical Making: Rhode Island School of Design on Creative Practice

Prototype studies for Hoop Skirt–lighting based on mid-19th century hoop skirts. Elish Warlop, RISD MFA Furniture Design 2013.

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From the Faculty and Staff of Rhode Island School of Design:

The Art of Critical Making
Rhode Island School of Design on Creative Practice

Foreword by Dr. John Maeda, President, RISD
Edited by Rosanne Somerson and Mara Hermano

At Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), students are immersed in a culture of “critical making,” in which the hand and mind combine to envision and create essential objects, experiences, and meanings. Consistently ranked as the number-one college of its kind in the United States, RISD is a leader in the field of art and design education. Its value, however, extends far beyond art and design, suggesting models significant to anyone seeking to contextualize, navigate, and transform increasingly complex cultures, structures, and networks.

In The Art of Critical Making: Rhode Island School of Design on Creative Practice (Wiley; September 2013; ISBN: 9781118517864), RISD faculty and staff guide the reader through RISD’s approach to education and innovation. Chapters, each written by a different faculty or staff member, explore subjects including the origin of the hand-brain connection; the foundational lessons of “critical making”; the role of designers as curators of information; the human-nature relationship; the deep purpose of drawing, materials, and critique; and how partnered projects invite businesses to engage with RISD’s educational resources.

This beautifully illustrated book shows how RISD nurtures creative practice, from initial spark to finished outcome. In these in-depth accounts, readers will discover methods and tools that will generate their own critical making, helping to:

Frame critical questions through an iterative process

– Apply hands-on, embodied approaches to problems

Enhance seeing through closer looking

Meet uncertainty with flexibility

Evaluate and articulate the significance of one’s work

Generate ethical responses to global needs

For creative innovators—whether business people, practicing artists and designers, prospective students of art and design, or educators—The Art of Critical Making will inspire new and rigorous ways of thinking and making. Readers will gain insight into how “critical making” can be a generative, transformative act essential to our collective experience.

“I believe that art and design have critical roles to play in innovation in this next century, much like science and technology did in the last,” said Dr. John Maeda, President, Rhode Island School of Design in the Foreword. “The very methods revealed in this book will drive the new ideas, movements, and solutions to help us tackle the complex problems of our day.”

“As the world grows increasingly complex and fast-paced, with global issues impacting us all, making, materials, and meaning are critical. The kind of essential knowing that we develop at RISD—informed through our hands, through our bodies, and in the creation of works, experiences, and events—is more cogent than at any other time,” explains Rosanne Somerson, Provost, Rhode Island School of Design, in the Introduction. “Artists and designers hone the capacity to generate something from deep inside ourselves to live outside of ourselves. By residing in the experiential and the physical, and by developing the ‘hands-on’ as a portal of intelligent learning, we confirm the mind as maker and making as a state of mindfulness. We demonstrate how artists and designers are hosts for enduring creative discovery that is self-initiated and actively engaged. In short, artists and designers manifest what has not existed previously—in many cases, what has never even been imagined.”

About Rhode Island School of Design
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) has earned an international reputation as the leading college of art and design in the United States. Recently ranked #1 in Business Insider‘s survey of The World’s 25 Best Design Schools, approximately 2,400 students from around the world study at RISD, pursuing full-time bachelor’s or master’s degree programs in a choice of 19 studio majors. For more information, visit www.risd.edu or our.risd.edu.

Media Contact:
Jocelyn Cordova, Wiley
jcordova@wiley.com / T 201 748 6249
Jaime Marland, RISD
jmarland@risd.edu / T 401 427 6954