Default Value is a studio partnership making forward‑thinking and research‑driven products, experiments, publications, and interventions. The studio examines how to work at the intersection of useful and experimental design by addressing a revolving list of questions, including: how can automation be embraced in the design process? How can we acknowledge the expression and agency of material? How does collaborative slippage affect design outcomes? How can authorship be subverted? Who is the audience of speculative design?
Rather than completing one large project, the output is a series of smaller tools, gestures, and experiments. The goal of this output is to challenge how a public audience imagines a design practice, critiquing the current frameworks and expectations of graphic design by working in an alternative way.
We used the semester as an opportunity to develop a design practice through the lens of a series of questions. Our process was intuitive and purposely vague: make things until we run out of time, and bind it all into an exhibition at the very end. We didn’t pre-determine how many projects we would make or what they would be.
Exhibiting a body of work was challenging when the exhibition space was divided up with large, singular projects in mind. We spent a lot of time considering how and where to best engage an audience with the studio output. We ended up with a multi-level installation in the back staircase in Brown that displayed both our deliverables and research.
1. You don’t have to spend the semester working on a singular project. Maybe you’re more interested in creating a body of work, and that’s okay too.
2. If you work with someone else, don’t focus on each person contributing 50% to each element of the project. It’s much more important to divide up work in a way that highlights each person’s interests and talents.
3. Sign up for a space in the senior studios and work there as often as you can. We got the best feedback from our studio-mates because they were around to see the work progress incrementally.
4. Look for ways to bend the rules to fit your project; don’t bend your project to fit the rules.
Jen and Trevor are currently based in Minneapolis and working as Default Value professionally.
See more of their work at defaultvalue.info.