Embodied Design – The Design Method of Pixar & Dreamworks

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By Prof. Chaehan So
The following video and photo document a memorable event when the wonderful worlds of dancers and designers for once came together. It happened in my “creative idea generation” class at IDAS this summer when I taught the embodied design approach as you can see in this short video:

Why should dancers and designers meet?

Creative idea generation has drawn interest to creative practitioners and academics for decades. Recent research found a new approach to access previously unknown grounds of creativity: embodied design. Animation movie companies like Pixar, Disney and DreamWorks were the first prominent companies to apply this approach.
Embodied Design: 
Everybody who likes animation movies could witness the improvement in design as the featured animals showed more and more realistic natural movements. This natural feeling even transferred to otherwise dead objects (toy story), monsters (Monster Inc.), robots (Wall-E), alien creatures (minions) who all accomplished a seamless merge of animal motion and expression of human emotion.
In my creative idea generation class at IDAS, we applied the embodied design approach to access an underestimated manifest of popular culture: urban dance. The lack of designers’ understanding of this culture often leads to bad and boring design, mostly copied from existing design.
Therefore, the purpose of this class was to improve students’ deep understanding of urban dance by embodied motion which in turn should transform into embodied design. To this aim, they should learn the difference of urban dance styles like popping, locking, hip-hop, and waacking. The design challenge was to create a poster announcing the real event of a hip-hop dance battle performed at a dance club in Hongdae district.
IDAS KMA creative students

How does the embodied design method work?

Embodied design can be described as a structured process:
  1. Immersion: Go to the site
  2. Observation
  3. Interviews
  4. Embodied Motion
  5. Embodied Design

The final poster selected by Level 6:

IDAS KMA Poster final

Collaboration creates convergence

Last but not least, this class exemplifies how the design of a new class experience can be accomplished by the collaboration of several parties – in this case, Level 6 dance studio, Kookmin University of Arts, and Hongik University, IDAS. This article hopes to inspire similar collaborations in the future.
IDAS Level6 group photo small

 

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