Celebrating neurodivergence abilities through design and making
A neurodivergence design workshop
Organized by Unblock.Space
Hosted by Available Items,
June 5-11, 2023
- The event is focused on designing and making a chair, a stereotypical design object, with neurodivergent participants invited to imagine and create their own version of it.
- The event is open to neurodivergent individuals, both diagnosed and self-diagnosed. Six to Ten participants total.
- The chair is seen as a public and private object, a norm and convention, and participants are encouraged to break, turn it around, and bring it to new places to occupy space.
- Unblock.Space is a collective of neurodivergence activists, advocates, and allies who celebrate the ability of neurodivergent people as designers.
- The workshops aim to provide an unexpected experience of neurodivergence through design and making rather than a static definition.
- The event explores a model of how to adapt designing and working with neurodivergent people, and how it can benefit everybody.
In collaboration with Available Items, Unblock.Space is organizing a chair design and making workshop from June 5-11, 2023. A chair is a design stereotype, a piece that connects the body to the environment, an object that can be private or public, personal or shared. A chair is a way to occupy space, to be engaged with the world or to be protected from it. There are endless ways to imagine, use and make a chair. Some can be expected and normative, some can be unconventional and non-standard.
During the workshop, participants will be invited to work with various materials and possibilities. Existing chairs can be deconstructed and transformed. New chairs can be built with available materials, all of them reclaimed and provided onsite. Each participant can design and make one or more chairs. Making can take many shapes and that does not always mean fabricating a physical thing. Sometimes imagining something, playing with an idea, speaking about it, laughing about it, acting with it as if the chair was an invisible friend is a way of making, of expressing oneself. We will rely more on collage, connections, layering and improvisation, more than on intimidating fabrication methods.
Design is a language more than a technique. Employed in a fluid way and used as a tool of non-verbal communication, design is a powerful neurodivergent support tool. Participants will be invited to develop a personal object, an extension and affirmation of oneself. Personal work will be encouraged and supported by one-to-one mentorship with the two Unblock.Space members and the support of Available Items. At the same time, collective work and group projects will also be encouraged, exploring concepts that are not always the work of solo thinkers and makers, but can also result from collaborations and interdependency between people.
Six to ten neurodivergent participants will be selected for the workshop. Neurodivergence can be diagnosed or self-diagnosed. Participants must be 16 or older, and do not have to be formally trained designers and makers. All work developed during the workshop will be owned by the participants. The workshop will end in a public exhibition for participants who are comfortable doing so. The workshop will be open everyday, 10am-5pm. Participants are welcome at times that work for them and develop their own individual schedule. For example, participants can come every day, full-time, if that is the way they like it. Or come everyday, half-time. Or come every other day, or only one or two days. Whatever works for you! During the workshop, for sake of documentation, research and promotion, Unblock.Space will take pictures and videos of the work in process and completed. Participants will be photographed or filmed only if they allow it.
Unblock.Space is a collective of neurodivergence activists, advocates, and allies, all coming from the design world. Unblock.Space is dedicated to reinventing the design process for and by neurodivergent participants. Unblock.Space has been organizing workshops in Europe since 2021 and is organizing its first workshop in the US at Available Items. Neurodivergence is of strong interest to Unblock.Space as it is an area with great talent and human potential too often misunderstood or unrecognized. Neurodivergence is a concept where neurodivergent people conditions are to be recognized and respected as any other human variation. These differences can include those labeled with Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyscalculia, Autistic Spectrum, Tourette Syndrome, and many more. By creating this platform and organizing workshops, we want to create and explore a model of how we can adapt our way of working and sharing concepts with a neurodivergent person, and how it can benefit everybody.