How to Give a Gift

What makes a gift good? What makes the practice of gift-giving creative and delightful, rather than burdensome? How do we practice generosity in ways that are meaningful and loving? And how do we bring these methods back to our own design and creative practices?
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A paradox of gift giving, according to design scholar Clive Dilnot, “is that when conducted as obligation, it is profoundly depressive.” In this workshop, we’ll question the assumptions of what a gift can be, talk about who stands to gain (and who is harmed) by thinking about gifting in a certain way, call up memories of meaningful presents we’ve received, and develop a shared taxonomy for gifting, in order to make space for a euphoric, rather than depressive, kind of giving. Then we’ll use that space to brainstorm and design a gift for a friend or loved one, and take what we’ve learned from the exercise and apply it to our everyday practice of making.

Instructor Bio

Elan is a Pittsburgh-based designer and educator currently leading the product team at a nonprofit criminal justice news organization called The Marshall Project and teaching design at Chatham University in Pittsburgh. Elan runs a pop-up design studio that funnels its profits to mutual aid projects, and obsesses over the least visited corners of the internet in the newsletter Straight to Spam.

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