The Sit-Art ’60 chair challenge’ invited senior Design students from Kelvin Grove State College to create customised seating designs for The Myer Centre in Brisbane City. The completed designs will be featured on 60 chairs to be installed in the refurbished central atrium of The Myer Centre Food Court.

The wider brief for design investigation is the role of seating and other design elements in the design of successful and sustainable public spaces. Sit-Art is a collaborative design-learning project at Kelvin Grove State College sponsored by The Myer Centre and Arkhefield and supported by the Asia Pacific Design Library of the State Library of Queensland and Queensland University of Technology.

With every design-based learning project, where getting to know the end-user and the context are vital elements in making good design decisions, the ideal scenario is to plug the learner into the wider community, not just the professional design community, but everyday users and stakeholders. Sit-Art has provided students with the best of both worlds. Through the support of Natalie Wright’s team of professional designers and QUT interns, the team from State Library of Queensland’s Design Minds, Angela Layton from Arkhefield, and the input of Tanya Lunardon of the Myer Centre as client, the young Sit-Art designers have had the opportunity to be immersed in the web of relationships that go together with all effective design process.

Sit-Art is an excellent model for how design can be done in schools, not so much for the content and the great design outcomes, but by empowering young people to apply the tools of thinking and working collaboratively that will equip them for changing and challenging futures. The design-thinking model that Design Minds is helping to shape highlights the importance of the optimistic and synthetic qualities that design approaches will bring to local and global challenges.

While chairs in the Myer Centre are a small corner of the wide world of design, the program is asking young minds to grapple with wider issues and values, access and sustainability, public and private space, and hopefully make the connections between local experiences and major global challenges. If the talented young people doing Design Futures at Kelvin Grove State College do not go on to work and further study in a formal Design field, they will still have learned a lot about thinking tools that focus on solutions and innovation, and hopefully they will remain engaged in the creative communities of the future.

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