We (the community of practitioners comprising MA Graphic Communication Design at Central Saint Martins) talk a lot about open-ended enquiry. What we mean is that starting a project with a fixed end goal in mind leads to uninteresting and uncritical work. Better to follow an idea through the unexpected twists and turns of experimentation, even if it means that the question you end up answering isn’t the one you were asking at the start. And so, open-ended enquiry demands an improvisational approach to research. We frequently reference the idea of adhocism, coined by Charles Jencks and Nathan Silver: “Basically it involves using an available system or dealing with an existing situation in a new way to solve a problem quickly and efficiently. It is a method of creation relying particularly on resources which are already at hand.”

In context of a global pandemic, of course, having to improvise with available resources isn’t a novel design chal- lenge; it’s an unforgiving reality. On hard days, it’s the excuse we need to take a break and scale back our ambitions. But on good days, it’s how we demonstrate the resilience and adaptability of graphic design practice. It’s how we find opportunities to advance our work as individuals—and maybe even push the discipline forward one or two small steps as a community.

How it started—if we can even remember that far back—is very different from how it’s going.

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