Design Through Making

There are many different approaches to “design”. Often artists design on paper or device, thinking through ideas and working towards prototypes. But sometimes a different approach is needed…

When we ask children or teenagers to “design” on paper, we are forgetting that most often, they don’t yet have the level of experience of the materials and techniques we are asking them to design with.

Design Through Making by Tobi Meuwissen

We need to acknowledge that children and teenagers are at an exploratory stage of creative education. They are making to find out, not because they know.

Designing on paper can help learners dream, but it can also lead to frustration. A child might design an incredible “thing” on paper, but when they move to the materials, they find out that the wood won’t do that, the tool doesn’t work as they thought it would, their fingers can’t quite bend it like that, the wire falls over, and their head hurts. The gap between “design” on paper and “thing” in reality grows large.

Design Through Making by Tobi Meuwissen

AccessArt advocates “Design through Making”. Instead of designing on paper, provide materials and tools, fill heads full of ideas and the air full of conversation, and let them get stuck in. Let them find out what happens when materials, fingers and minds collide. Let them experience what works and what doesn’t. As they work they WILL design.

Don’t forget – making is a kind of intelligence – and we need to talk about that more!

Design Through Making by Tobi Meuwissen


This is a sample of a resource created by UK Charity AccessArt. We have over 1100 resources to help develop and inspire your creative thinking, practice and teaching.

AccessArt welcomes artists, educators, teachers and parents both in the UK and overseas.

We believe everyone has the right to be creative and by working together and sharing ideas we can enable everyone to reach their creative potential.

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