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Real World, Real Learning at Design Festa
Real World, Real Learning at Design Festa

Real World, Real Learning at Design Festa

Twelve design students and four teachers traveled to Big Sight, Tokyo November 26th & 27th to participate in the annual Design Festa, and another dozen parents, students and teachers came along for support over the two-day event. Design Festa is one of the biggest celebrations of the arts in Asia, where anyone regardless of age, nationality, skill level or language can exhibit. Twice a year since its inception in1994, it has served as a platform for creative expression by over 12,000 artists, designers, musicians, actors and more. YIS students work alongside professionals and amateurs to display and sell their original products or create live art.

Says YIS Art and Design teacher, Wayne Kumamoto, "our most important work as teachers of design is to guide students to think critically and creatively. Our students are real and their ideas are real; Design Festa is a valuable opportunity to experience the real world of design." The students agree. Says Tessa, grade 9, "Design Festa was amazing, a chance for all people to be themselves. If you have a passion for making small things, like stickers, or big paintings, it doesn't matter, you can express yourself and sell your art and show people what you like to create."

Design Festa at YIS is an extracurricular activity that meets twice a week in the fall. Explained Mr. Kumamoto: "We have grades 9 through 12 in a non-assessed, elective scenario where they can learn from each other. The grade 12's also give advice and all the students really learn from each other. There's a natural transfer of knowledge and skills that is very meaningful for the students, since it's all about creating what the students are interested in."

Ayaka, a grade 10 student and Design Festa veteran challenged herself this year, her fourth appearance, by participating in a live painting demonstration with other YIS students across a 3m x 2m space. Says Ayaka, "we needed to consider deeply about the balance of the artwork and cover as much of the space as we could to demonstrate skills. I learned that taking risks is important, since in live-painting, we only had a single chance. We needed to show what we could create for the audience with only brush and ink."

"For all the students, there was a definite awareness that they were not in the classroom," says Mr. Kumamoto, "that they had to engage with the public, had to talk to people in unfamiliar, unpredictable situations. Kids themselves are unpredictable but giving them the chance to negotiate real-life situations of adult engagement was very valuable."

The chance to experience the real world of art and design was inspiring, agreed the students. Concludes grade 9 student, William, "I appreciated the chance to interact with all the other exhibitions and artists. Some people draw perfectly realistically, some abstract, some colorfully, some only using black and white. Everyone has their own unique approach. We could also get feedback from other participants on our own work, which was a rich experience for me to improve and get advice from other artists and designers who have been longtime contributors."

Agrees Tessa, "when I looked and found so many examples of other styles it inspired me to find my own style. It opened up my mind to believe I can design whatever I want. As students still learning about designing and art, it's something we will take with us for next year and within our future projects."

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