fresh eyes cuba pop-up

During the Fall '16 term I had the honor of participating in the Fresh Eyes Cuba study abroad project that was put together by the Designmatters department at ArtCenter and Instituto Superior de Diseño in Havana, Cuba, and funded by Autodesk.

The project was a 14-week intensive course, organized around a 10-day immersive trip to Havana. The trip included a 4-day workshop with students at Instituto Superior (ISDi), the country's only design school. The workshop culminated with a group of 7 interactive pop-up installations in the school's courtyard, each created by 2 ArtCenter students and 3 ISDi students.


Before our trip to Cuba, we met weekly for presentations on Cuban history, culture, and a modern perspective on the city that we'd be spending time in.


After 3 days of sight-seeing, we got to ISDi to meet our new collaborators and assembled together in the classroom that we'd be working in for the next few days.

I had the pleasure of being placed in a group with Oscar Navarro (ISDi, industrial design), Kevin Serrano (ISDi, graphic design),  Grace Haynes (ArtCenter, Illustration), and Lisandra Aguilera (ISDi, graphic design).


There wasn't much of a communication problem since most of the Cuban students speak excellent English, and quite a few of us ArtCenter students are Spanish speakers. We got to work right away.


I've been lent a 1" pinback button maker to use during my time at ArtCenter and I happened to already have parts for 100 buttons because I didn't end up using them for a previous project. That stuff went with me to Cuba because I thought I might be able to incorporate all of that into whatever pop up I'd end up being a part of.

@ericdvaldez I thought making buttons was going to be easy and fun. It's neither of those things, but the end result is rad.

Likes: 15


We had made immediate connections with our Cuban counterparts and were eager to spend time with them outside of the workshop. Fortunately, we were able to do just that on the second day of the workshop and end explored Old Havana with them.


On the 3rd day of the workshop we settled on creating a mock government office that would be a satire of the needlessly complicated bureaucratic mess that is a part of daily life in Cuba. Our government office was entitled Minesterio de Administración de Sucesos y Predición de Cosas que no han Sucesido Todavía pero van a Suceder S.A (Ministry for the Administration of Events and the Prediction of Things that Have Not Yet Happened But Will, Inc.).

Participants received a nonsense form to fill out and lined up to submit their paperwork.


I was the security guard and my job was to keep the line orderly, inspect the form and button parts. If anything was out of order, the participant would be sent back to the first department. I made sure to find faults in many of the forms. 

Once participants got past me, they'd go onto the second-to-last station.


After getting past me, participants would have their paperwork scrutinized again and either be sent to the first station or have their cards read and receive the final set of button parts. 


At the final station, participants would present their button components; which included a slip of paper with a QR code printed on it and have their buttons made.

The buttons had QR codes on them, which would reveal the participant's future when scanned and also encouraged them to take control of their future instead of waiting for the government to determine what it will be.