Camila Afanador-Llach, Florida Atlantic University

Designers in academia interested in collaboration face the need to define and highlight the value of design by building relationships, proposing, structuring, funding and sustaining collaborative projects with other scholars. The creation of spaces within universities for professors of diverse disciplines to interact is a step in that direction. In this poster, I present a case study based on my experience as part of a working group exploring the intersection of digital art, scholarship and social issues. The group was launched in late 2015 by visiting digital media artist and scholar Sharon Daniel and was composed by faculty and graduate students from the Departments of English and Visual Art. Daniel’s engagement with social issues through digital media platforms served as broad context for the group members to explore and incorporate digital tools to address and pursue research and creative interests around social justice, politics, memory and identity, among other subjects.

The resulting product of this collaboration was a group exhibition showcasing screen-based work including video, data visualization, audio essays, and interactive narratives. Central to the process involved in the production of some of these projects, a question remains on the line that separates design as a service from design as a collaborative endeavor. I evaluate the work produced by the group using the distinguishing features of collaborative projects to identify challenges and opportunities. I conclude with recommendations for designers to engage in this type of work with a better understanding of the variables that characterize collaborative work. For a more collaborative future, as design educators we have the option to assume leading roles in interdisciplinary practices within academia and to bridge these into design education.



Camila Afanador-Llach is a designer and educator currently based in South Florida. She teaches courses in typography, interactive design and visual identity systems at Florida Atlantic University. Camila received her BFA in Industrial Design from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (Bogotá, Colombia) and her MFA in Graphic Design from Rhode Island School of Design. Previously she worked as an in-house designer in Bogotá and more recently for a branding and design firm in Boston, MA. Her research interests include interdisciplinary approaches to design education and the roles of design in connection to history, geography and identity.