Student Profiles - Michael Martin

1. What had you been doing before you came to study Ecological Design Thinking at Schumacher College?

Before coming to Schumacher college I was the Design Studio Lead for a group of National Museums in Greenwich (Royal Observatory, National Maritime Museum, Queens House Art Galley and the Cutty Sark). I was responsible for leading the design and delivery of small to large scale temporary and permanent exhibits and learning environments.
 
2. What was it that made you want to explore Ecological Design Thinking at Schumacher? 

I became interested in finding sustainable ways of living and working while in London and I began to research Masters courses in Design. However, all the Masters courses I found didn’t go beyond the use of sustainable design processes and materials. The Masters in Ecological Design Thinking (EDT) is the only Masters course that I found that went beyond sustainability, and a conventional way of seeing design as a problem solving tool, to seeing design as a way of thinking about the world that can be used to catalyse change on a larger systems level.

3. Describe your time at the College?

My time at the college took me on a deep personal journey into the nature of design, and the design of nature. I realised the importance of finding my own ecosophy or my own personal ecological philosophy. This has been invaluable to helping me find my way of designing. I discovered it’s not enough to simply learn a new set of tools, methods or processes for designing responsibly. If I want to create meaningful and lasting change in the world, I have to ground this in my lived experience using all of senses, not just my thinking mind. This has required me to expand the idea of who I think I am to include the ecological, or natural, world that I am not separate from and to relearn what it means to be a human being first and foremost.

4. What have you gone on to do since leaving the College?

Since leaving the college I have found work in Devon. Firstly with a group of local artists, Encounters Arts, working with communities accross the South West. Interestingly this relationship started on the EDt Masters whilst I was working on a ‘live’ project, that was a museum project in Torquay. Since then I have been invited back to co-lead a design process for them creating a mobile arts and cultural space that will travel to communities in the South West, exploring what it means to live within our ecological limits. I have also been invited to work with Dartington Hall Trust to conduct a piece of design research. This project has given me the opportunity to put into practice principles I learned on the Ecological Design Thinking Masters, and is the beginning of a long-term project. In addition to this I have also been invited back to the college to share my experience with this years cohort of EDT students. I found the experience hugely valuable and I plan to continue working with students of the Masters programme to deepen my learning through teaching. I have also started working with a local potter, learning to design through making, as a result of the Masters programme and my final project. Currently I am exploring the idea of continuing my design research through a practice based PhD in Design whilst establishing my own design practice here in Devon.