Stuart Geddes is an Industry Fellow, lecturer in Communication Design and PhD Candidate at RMIT.
Tell us about yourself
I’ve taught regularly from about 2000 in Communication Design, as well in Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Fashion. My design practice, since 1998, has taken the form of several collaborative practices and projects, often with other people from RMIT.
Currently I’m teaching a studio in the Bachelor of Design (Communication Design) focused on small press publishing, and in the Master of Communication Design I’m running a weekly experimental typography workshop.
I’m also working on a practice-based PhD, borrowing pretty heavily from the RMIT Architecture and Design model, and centred in my own practice as a designer and sometimes publisher, mostly of books.So, to be more specific, it’s about the form of the book, as informed by elements of my practice: working collaboratively, Melbourne as a sense of place, and the kind of unconventional economies that operate in design-led publishing as practice.
How important is collaboration in your work?
My practice is very collaborative in nature, and my masters was about collaboration as a generative design strategy. I think people have the sense of research being a solitary activity, but that’s never been my experience of it.
I worked with RMIT's Communication Design Program Manager, Associate Professor Brad Haylock, on an exhibition called The Future is Here. The exhibition was first put together at London’s Design Museum, and then brought out to RMITs Design Hub and reconceived by our curatorial team. The work that Brad and I did tapped into some of the crossovers in our research interests – exploring the possibilities of new digital technologies for typography, and experimenting with the use of unconventional tools in contemporary graphic design practice. The combination of these two generated a skeleton-based typography that was realised through different tools and materials (like a laser-cutter into stainless steel, a 3-axis router into formply) as well as through several brushes, both physical and digital. The exhibition was a finalist in the Communication Design category of the 2015 Victorian Premier’s Awards.
Can you give some detail about the Mongrel Rapture: The Architecture of Ashton Raggatt McDougall, which you worked on and which was recently awarded an Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA) Pinnacle Award?
Mongrel Rapture was such a brilliant and unusual project to be involved in. It’s not often that a book will take that long (almost 4 years) and end up at that scale (1616 pages). The book has become a central project in my PhD research because, in terms of the form of the book, it has been conceived of and designed as many kinds of book: hymnal, illuminated manuscript, index, journal, monograph, zine (to name a few). The Pinnacle award from AGDA was a great thing to receive, as it’s rarely given and, as the name implies, is the highest honour available.
Does your industry work allow you to stay connected with RMIT staff and graduates?
Yes, it always has, but also I have just this year been appointed as an Industry Fellow at RMIT. The idea of these kinds of appointments is to bring certain industry expertise and perspectives into faculty, as well as create links outwardly. RMIT is in a unique position to make this kind of thing work, because of its track record with practice-based research, industry connection, and increasingly alignment of teaching with these through ideas of integrated scholarship and things like my Industry Fellowship.
Often it doesn’t feel like work, which seems like a good measure of enjoyment in what you do.