Meet an Instructor: Santiago Piedrafita

Meet Santiago Piedrafita, instructor for the TECH TYPE HIGH workshop on May 5. Santiago is an enthusiastic design educator, serving as the current chair of Graphic Design and Industrial Design at NC State University’s College of Design, and an active designer. 

Registration is currently open for TECH TYPE HIGH. More information, including the registration form can be found here. TECH TYPE HIGH is open to rising 9–12 grade students. 

Let’s check out what Santiago has to say about his work, the workshop, and what inspires him to do what he does:

What do you do?
I work as a designer and also teach design at the College of Design at NC State. And I also keep busy with the study with all manner and matters related and unrelated to design—one never stops learning.

How did you get to where you are today (in three sentences or less)?
I was born in Uruguay (small), but I grew up in Brazil (big); Rio, to be precise. I have lived in the US for quite a while now (New York, Minneapolis, and now Raleigh). A designer for that long stretch mainly at cultural institutions and a handful of design studios, plus a design teacher in higher-education for half of that.

Why are you teaching this workshop?
I like good ideas and understanding how to help them come about. Workshops are quick and to-the-point, so this brings them out, fast-and-furious, no matter what. In everyone. It is also great to work with new people for a day. New people, new ideas, one can easily argue (like a special-ops crew on a mission put together to solve an impossible problem, if I can think of an extreme scenario to make my point). I also like to think that a taste of design early is a good thing for most, if not everyone.

What can participants expect to do, learn, or make in your workshop?
I think participants will have a chance to both “think-and-make” (one should not go without the other; a package deal). I also want for participants to consider and engage with typically-seen-as-distinct concepts and categories. Say, low-tech and high-tech; analog and digital; hand-made and machine-made; language and image; content and form. I find much value is to be found in this approach, leading to interesting work.

What’s your favorite material?
I know this is going to sound odd, but I like words. Language, that is. It’s both immaterial (voice, story, message, etc.) and material (handwriting/lettering, typeface … and texting too!).

Favorite color or color palette?
I like orange and green when they come together. A bright orange and a bright green, that is. Also, light blue, gray and white. And, …

Best thing you’ve ever made?
I once designed graphics for an airplane … month later, out of the blue, I saw it flying across the sky. I told my friend then and there: “look, look … I designed that!”

Favorite place?
That depends on the time of day!

Favorite designer (and why)?
Bruno Munari (google him). Because he believed that design and creativity were innate; and fun and serious all at the same time.

Favorite artist (and why)?
Can I choose three? Rineke Dijkstra, Thomas Struth, and Katharina Fritsch (the first two are photographers, the last a sculptor of sorts).

Most important thing to remember when desiging/making?
Have an open mind (why and why not?) > ask good questions (is it useful? is it beautiful? is it good for you and others?) > have faith in the process (take your time when/where needed) > finish what you started (closure is good, even if tentative and/or temporary).

Favorite object or tool (and why)?
I have a soft spot for bicycles. As for tools, I cannot imagine life without tape measurers.

Anything else we should know?
Know thyself, as they say.

Want to sign up for the workshop? All the information needed, including registration forms, is available here. 

Check out all our high school programs here.

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