Show & Dwell: Master of Design Graduate Exhibition 2013

How does design affect the world we dwell in?

Last week I was energized and inspired by a trip to FAB Gallery to check out Show & Dwell: Master of Design Graduate Exhibition 2013. It is amazing to see the work these five University of Alberta design graduates have put in actively exploring the world. They have taken major steps to challenge and impact the current landscape of design.

I met up with MA Industrial Design grad Michelle Heath and she walked me through her final project.  I had a few questions for Michelle about the show:

What is Show and Dwell?

Show and Dwell is a collective exhibition of Master of Design graduate student’s thesis work.

Can you tell me a bit about why the name of “Show and Dwell” was chosen for the Grad show this year?

We selected this name for a couple of reasons. We liked the play on words for ‘show and tell’. We all agreed that this show was sort of an adult version of that for us.

We also liked the way that ‘dwell(ing)’ comes up in a lot in our individual work. And that by being part of this show, we are asking the public to come look at our work and dwell—to think about what we are trying to communicate and to consider our perspectives on what design can involve.

How many students are involved?

There are five grad students involved. Four of us are from Industrial Design (ID) and one from Visual Communications Design (VCD)

How many years have the students been in school?

Everyone in the show has been in the Masters programme here for 2-3 years. I believe for all of us this is our second degree.

What does a Master of Design graduate come away with?

I’m not sure if I can really speak for everyone on this one but for myself I feel the biggest thing is starting to really understand how I (as an individual) approach design. The great thing about doing a Masters in Design is the opportunity to work on a project that is based on what you are interested in and most curious about. That way you can choose to look more at conceptually based projects or practice or materiality. The projects in our show are a good example of all those paths.

I have also come away with a better idea of how Industrial Design can involve not only designing built objects but more so, designing how people interact with objects. Designing that experience people and the built environment and addressing physical, emotional and/or cognitive aspects just makes ID so much more than designing chairs and that’s pretty exciting. Completing my Masters in ID has helped me see that and made me better informed to design for all those possibilities that ID encompasses.

How long and how much work did it take to put together this final gallery show?

I don’t have an exact number for the hours spent organizing the show but it’s a pretty lengthy process, especially with it being a group show. Each of us has a project under our title ‘Show and Dwell’ but it’s important to acknowledge that each of our projects is an individual show as well with its own identity and theme. The biggest challenge lay in creating an overall identity for the show that didn’t encroach on our own individual work. Selecting a title that meant something and spoke to each of our individual projects was important for us, as well as using a color scheme for the show’s identity that didn’t overwhelm anyone’s individual project.

And of course there are the logistical things of who will go where within the space, how will you hang your work so it doesn’t fall down, how much food do we order for the closing party!

How to communicate your project—without you there to explain it–is a major component to having a show. It’s crucial to have enough information available to viewers so that they can understand what you’re doing without overwhelming them with things to read. For each of us individually that was a lot of work as well.

Where do you hope to go with your career now that you’ve graduated / what are your plans now that you have graduated?

As of now, I don’t have anything lined up. I’m thinking of travelling in the new year to get some hands-on knowledge and inspiration and to see how my work can actually be incorporated into the world outside of university life. One thing that I have enjoyed the most during my time at the U of A is all of the talented people I have met who have such a diverse range of skills and knowledge. Ultimately, if my future continues to be filled with opportunities to continue working with passionate, creative people from a diverse realm of art and design, I would be pretty excited.


This week is your last chance to see Show & Dwell for yourself.  The show runs until September 21.  The closing reception will be Thursday, September 19, 2013, 7:00 – 10-:00 p.m.

If you are interested in learning more about the UAlberta design programs, check out for more information.


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