MDes students design “through the rear view mirror” in new book
April 15, 2011

We look at the present through a rear-view mirror.
We march backwards into the future.
-Marshall McLuhan

For students in this year’s Graduate Design Studio 3, Professor Michael LeBlanc set an ambitious goal: Six unique design challenges delivered over six intense day-long classes, culminating in its own book.

The result - Design Through the Rear View Mirror– is a reflection of what Professor Michael LeBlanc describes as the “different ways on how visual language changes with time and culture.”

“The questions that were posed were intended to mix meaning with temporal considerations, forcing students to literally ‘design through the rear view mirror,’” explains Professor LeBlanc.

At the start of each class at 9 a.m., LeBlanc presented students with the question of the day, giving them until 4 p.m. to complete the project.  All assignments were individual, with the exception of one group project, and all work had to be completed in class within the seven-hour window. 

Over the six weeks, grad students responded to what LeBlanc calls “crazy ideas” that included designing a material currency for a hypothetical society that runs completely on credit to illustrating a chapter from the Bible using only corporate logos.

“The half-baked dreams that emerge from the maws of our imaginations are most often the result of combinations of deviant ideas,” he adds. “While it is true that ‘innovations’ are composed of many small incremental and reasonable improvements, ‘revolutions’ are not the result of reason. They are the result of one idea striking another unrelated idea to create an independently significant concept.”

 While most ideas are just that – ideas – and easily cast aside, for LeBlanc, “...a minute fraction of these notions can emerge with promise.”

“The notions that they present in this book will help to augment the possibility that interesting scenarios—ripe for future contemplation—might emerge from these day-long meditations.”

To purchase your copy of Design Through the Rear View Mirror, click here.