Found in Translation: Duarte da Costa Ferreira

This year’s MA in Design: Expanded Practice degree show, “Found in Translation” is taking place online starting December 7th until the end of the month. The Design blog is giving you a preview of the work created by the class of 2020; today, Duarte da Costa Ferreira.

Duarte da Costa Ferreira profile photo

What’s your project about, in a nutshell?

“Sustainability” and Climate change can be hard to process and attack all in one go, so this project focuses on Water. And following that idea of breaking things down, instead of doing one big final project I approached it by making a series of smaller design interventions. These all exist in the realms of Futuring (a philosophy that goes one step further than sustainability, since to sustain is to maintain the same, and to Future is to act in a redirective manner that actually adds to the planet), Speculative Design and Water. From a game, to imagining a world where Water becomes the new currency, these projects aim to pose questions about how we want the Future of Water to be, and how we might engage people in these conversations.

What kind of research did you do and what are some of the most interesting things you found?  

I did this project from my home country of Portugal (in Lisbon), so I wasn’t able to use the incredible infrastructure that Goldsmiths and the Design Department have to offer. However, the staff were always available to help, even if in a different way, emailing me books to read or hopping on a quick video call to discuss my progress. I did manage to go to a museum once, although in a completely different setting, following a booking and a guided tour. There I got to experience first-hand the history of water in Lisbon and discuss the evolution of our current water systems. I have, of course read books, articles and watched talks and interviews about water, the future of cities and everything that could possibly connect to these main themes.

Projeto Aguadeiro poster

Honestly, the thing I found most interesting was the sheer amount of people that are dedicated to seeing the change they want in the world, and those who actually act on those desires too. Every single one of those people are a source of inspiration and hope, and make me incredibly excited for what’s to come.

What’s your background and how did you choose this MA at Goldsmiths? How was your experience on the course? 

I am Lisbon born and raised, a true “alfacinha” (little lettuce; a national slang that describes Lisboners). Moved to London in 2016, pursuing personal freedom and without even knowing what design really was, I sought a career in it. I got accepted into a BA in Graphic & Digital Design at the University of Greenwich and after graduating I took on a part-time job as a designer for a EU project while starting the MA Design at Goldsmiths. I had applied to Goldsmiths before for my BA but I had no idea what I was doing then (not that I know more now, but at least I like to think I do) — needless to say I was not ready for Goldsmiths, or maybe Goldsmiths wasn’t ready for me? This radical post-disciplinary MA course was what I was looking for, it was this or nothing, I didn’t apply anywhere else. I had a lovely interview with Ruby [Hoette] and I was offered a spot in that same meeting.

Water labels

Water app

I switched from my initially assigned studio (Communication and Experience) to Innovation and Service as I saw it as a better fit for myself and who I wanted to become as a practitioner and as a researcher. The experience overall was one pandemic short of perfect. If only we had been able to carry on with the course as usual, maybe it would have become something even better. Not disregarding the tacit knowledge acquired from working from home, a skill that most of us thought would never be the norm, but so it is.

At the end of the day, I know I’ll be leaving the course better prepared for whatever comes next. More versatile as a practitioner and in a deeper sense, a better thinker and maker. And that is way more than I could have asked of the course, every single staff member made the difference. Could have been a phrase they said or feedback I heard: it all got absorbed and will be ready to use when the time comes.

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