Materials as a Means of Communication 

Mending as material intervention; experimenting as a means for surprising outcomes;

creating as a way to produce innovative materials; deconstructing as a way to understand construction.  

Materials as Communication 2020-2021

Materials as Communication was a three-week project presented to reflect on the fact that hindsight was indeed 20/20. Participants could choose any lived experience that they wanted to openly share from the year 2020: COVID-19, Black Lives Matter, marginalization of peoples, racism, environmental issues, mental health issues or simply the mundane daily life of being in isolation due to the pandemic. Participants were encouraged to make this project as personal and reflective or as social and political as they wished, while thinking about different ways that materials could be used as a means of communication: how mending could be a form of materials intervention or how experimenting with materials and combining them could lead to surprising outcomes. Furthermore, that experimentation and creating could produce new and innovative materials, while deconstructing could be a way to understand and learn about construction.

The making of the project was rooted in three methodologies. First, research-creation with various materials within a 16x16” boundary.  Second, a guided phenomenological process of reflection. Third, writing about those reflections to produce a 250-word document to accompany the created works.

Design is political. Design is critical. Design is essential.

Using material to communicate about 2020.



The Pest

A Dark Pandemonium

Calm and the Storm


I Am Awake


Heart of Gold

Gambling on the Future

The Invasion

Consuming the Mind

Inaudible Noises

Reminding Love in Chaos


The Fabric of Reality

Emerging from Hibernation


In a Split Second


Trapped in a Tower


Stephanie Jones

Stephanie Jones, a masters student whose research is on social justice and phenomenological writing, joined the virtual class synchronously online, to facilitate a workshop on writing phenomenologically. In the workshop, participants were introduced to the methodology of phenomenology and phenomenological writing as an approach. Participants were introduced to the idea of the art of storytelling and how phenomenological writing gives ways for the audience to understand one’s lived experiences due to dense descriptions of time, body, space, relationships and language. 


Materials as Communication exhibited at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto as part of the DesignTO 2021 Design Festival. By displaying this exhibition along Queen Street West at CAMH, it allowed open access to all of the public to understand the effect of this year on the student's mental health. This exhibition animated a storefront window to be safely viewed outdoors without large gatherings and in accordance with public health protocols.

The works served as catalytic conversations for the public to pause, read, reflect and empathize. Through art and design, we were connected while being apart.


Read about us on DesignTO

9th Annual DesignTO Award for 2021 Best Exhibition

Using Format