Document Type

Conference Presentation

Publication Date



Art Fundamentals, design, sustainability, non-traditional materials, typography, painting, drawing, 3D construction, digital


In May 2016, Todd Barsanti attended a one week residency for design educators, hosted by Design Inquiry ( The residency was held at The Poor Farm, on Vinalhaven Island, in Maine. He used the opportunity to work out some communications that had been percolating since he completed his Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies five years ago; a series of posters that communicate ways in which our patterns of consumption are not sustainable. Beyond the output, though, Todd was interested primarily in documenting the process of creating communications using non-traditional materials. For six days, he mucked around in the mud, experimented with materials, got very dirty, and forced himself to experience design through new perspectives. After teaching in a Bachelor of Design program for 10 years, Todd now focuses on design foundations in an Art Fundamentals program that attracts students trying to enter a range of visual arts programs, including, but not limited to design. He helps students understand why design processes and design thinking are relevant, regardless of the path they take out of our program. In re-writing the curriculum for foundation design, Todd has made a choice of media for each project a part of the design process. He encourages students to explore a variety of media; from traditional painting and drawing, to 3D construction, to digital outputs, both static and motion-based. By introducing options from the outset of their processes, Todd directs students to always think beyond initial ideas, supports their experimentation and curiosity, and introduces them to a kind of systems-based thinking. In this presentation, Todd spoke of his experiences in Maine, as well as show examples of how student work can be both hand made and machine made, given project parameters that are flexible.


Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design (FAAD)


UCDA Design Education Summit Proceedings


Publisher's version

Peer Reviewed/Refereed Publication


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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Original Publication Citation

Barsanti, T. (2017). Integrating non-traditional materials into the design process. UCDA Design Education Summit Proceedings, 2017, 7 - 15.

Additional Files

001-BarsantiNonTraditional.pdf (6359 kB)
Presentation: Integrating Non-Traditional Materials into the Design Process