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International Design Summer School 2018 “Atlantic Wonder. Exploring Nature and Design in Madeira Island,” July 15-20

18th May 2018

This year, the Universidade da Madeira Design team of the Art & Design Department is organizing an International Design Summer School 2018 “Atlantic Wonder. Exploring Nature and Design in Madeira Island” on July 15-20, in Funchal. This is being organized in a partnership with Paco Design Collaborative, Museu de Historia Natural do Funchal, Estação de Biologia Marinha

Registration is now open. Express your interest in participating by sending a motivation letter and your CV. Email the organization at: [email protected].

Check the registration page for more information, early bird before June 2.

The summer school is based on six full days of work and follow the design thinking process through the inspiration, ideation and implementation phases.


The first part is dedicated to explorations around the island of Madeira to learn more about the different environments and ecosystems, the human intervention on the landscape, the impact on nature, the social and cultural dimensions and the identities in Madeira (local products, traditions, crafts). The programme will offer the participants the opportunity to experience Madeira’s resources and products directly following the guidance of local experts in different fields of research and practice.

The Nature Talks are also an opportunity to get inspired by thoughts and questions raised by invited guests who touch the theme of nature from different perspectives.

Finally, each mentor will intervene with their “pills of knowledge” to support the participant’s thinking process.

This inspiration phase is for the participants to explore the following topics:

- the sense of place

- the border

- the relation between man and nature

- local identities

- future scenarios.


Starting from the explorations and conversations with local experts, mentors’ talks and “pills of knowledge”, the participants will form teams and identify design challenges that they will address. Nature will be put in the centre of the thinking and design process. The ideation phase is intensive and oriented towards visualising proposals as much as possible. Lo-Fi mockup models and other forms of rapid prototyping are used to facilitate the dialogue, test and improve the proposal.


As the final phase of the process the teams, with the support of staff and mentors, will organise and set up an exhibition with the proposals resulting from the summer school. The proposals will be presented to a wider audience made up of local stakeholders, such as enterprises, organisations, institutions. The exhibition aims to encourage a dynamic dialogue and future collaborations and project implementation.

What makes this programme special?

Explorations in the natural environment

To learn from and about Nature it is necessary to be in Nature. For this reason the programme offers several explorations around the island, such as walking along ‘levadas’, sailing off the coasts of Funchal, visiting bio agriculture farms and more!

Food as a tool to connect people

Coffee breaks, pic-nics and dinners are very important moments for socialising, sharing and learning. Cooking and eating together will be our strategy to aggregate people, generate interesting dialogues, build new friendships and a cohesive team of work.

Warm Up your body and mind

Every morning, before starting the long day of work, we will offer a warm up session to remind the participants and mentors about the importance of listening to their own body, and re-establishing their connection with Nature and other living beings.

The Nature Talks

The Nature Talks within the summer school programme are conceived as the first edition of a series of talks about nature within the DESIS Philosophy Talks initiative  In the context of the Philosophy Talks, the Nature Talks aim to nurture the dialogue between design and other disciplines, between theory and practice. In fact, at the Nature Talks experts from different areas of research and practice, from different countries and cultural backgrounds will be invited to share their own perspective on practical issues and topics through a series of philosophical questions. The result will be an in-depth discussion on different questions raised open to a wider public, such as local stakeholders and an international community, via several means of communication (e.g. through the summer school website and social media, and future publications).



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