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Research Culture and Environment

Our research philosophy is grounded in our distinctive mission and purpose as a specialist provider of education in art, craft, design and media.

It reflects our beliefs in the value of creative practice and the centrality of the principle of thinking through making.

It also reflects our commitment to promote innovation, intellectual curiosity, entrepreneurship and creativity, adding value to the cultural, social and economic life of Plymouth and the South West region, and contributing positively to broader national and international cultural and economic agendas. 

We strongly encourage and support links between research and pedagogy and between research and professional practice, and thinking through making radiates through all our communities of practice - fine artists, makers, designers  and creative media producers.

It denotes, for us, the fundamental importance of the practitioner’s relationship to, and understanding of, materials, media, tools and processes, be it (for example) film-making, glass-blowing, curatorial research, or performance art. 

We maintain a strong focus on professional studio and workshop regimes of knowledge and action, underpinned with an entrepreneurial/critical-curatorial approach to contexts of practice that are increasingly structured around portfolio career/SME settings. 

There are strong historical threads embedded in this stance that can be traced back to our roots as the Plymouth Drawing School, established in 1856 as part of the then nation-wide wave of art, design and industry teaching institutions set-up in the wake of the 1851 Great Exhibition. However, our contemporary investment in thinking through making emphatically does not signify a simplistic concentration solely on embodied technical skill. 

We view creative making as essentially a research site, or laboratory, for the deep exploration of determinate ideas and feelings - a project that is radically open to the future and which embraces an ‘expanded’ field of creative practices.  

  • Making Futures at Beijing Design Week: Q&A with Malcolm Ferris

    In a change from its traditional location at Mount Edgcumbe in the UK, the Making Futures team and specially selected guests were specially invited to Beijing Design Week 2014 for a pop up conference. Making Futures Curator Malcolm Ferris talks us through his experience at Beijing Design Week and the role of Making Futures at this huge transnational event.