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Design Through Making

Molly Mason

Based between Dorset and London over the last few years, I am a designer-maker who takes great pleasure in the research of my projects. I immerse myself in narratives, aiming to tell stories in various design modes whilst drawing on anthropology and social science approaches to design. It is important to me to understand environments through collaboration, storytelling and physically doing, a language which continuously evolves to reflect its surroundings. I like to curate environments, providing platforms from which the challenging issues of our time can be heard, whilst also encouraging conversation, collaboration and change.


Education

Ethnographic and Documentary Film (Practical) MA, University College London, 2021-22

Product & Furniture Design BA, Kingston University, 2017

Art & Design Foundation Diploma, Kingston University, 2013

Awards & Exhibitions

2021 Work in Progress Show, The Royal College of Art 

2020-21 In Case of Fire, You Get the Gist 

2017 Young Furniture Makers Exhibition

2017 Graduated, London Design Festival 

2017 Shortlisted for Mixology’s Young Designer of the Year Award at New 

Designers 

2017 New Designers

Based between Dorset and London over the last few years, I am a designer-maker and take great pleasure in the research of my projects. Continuously immersing in narratives, often with the aim to tell stories in various design modes whilst drawing on anthropology and social science approaches to design. Attempting to understand environments through collaboration, story telling and physically doing, a language which continuously evolves reflecting its surroundings, I like to curate environments, providing platforms for others or the surroundings to speak out and engage, shaping our understanding of the challenging issues of our time, whilst encouraging conversation, collaboration and change for years to come.

Visual Layout
Detailed Description including planting plan
Three stage skate construction plan

Introduction to project

This project, Puddle Meadow, grew from a proposal in a Dorset village for an affordable skate park which, due to lack of funding, was shelved. There is already a playground for pre-school children and sports facilities for clubs but nowhere for the 6-16 age group to meeting outside. To access this kind of space the children currently rely on public transport or their friends and family. There is an obvious need for more relaxed local spaces so that rural communities are not disadvantaged. Alongside previous attempts throughout the last two years to support local biodiversity and community engagement with nature, this seemed the perfect opportunity to build something more permanent which can reflect the community and its culture and support local biodiversity.

Shown above is the preposed site and initial plans for a three part build for the skate park. Because initial funding was so low, I have designed the skate park so it can be built in three stages as the funding comes in. The first is the main looped track with a grind box and a two sided launch ramp, the second is a large bowl with a rail coming off it and the final includes two smaller bowls in the loops of the looped track. By building the skate track in stages, we hope to encourage funding by showing how the community is using and enjoying the track and therefore highlighting the need for more space and funding in the future.

I hired a digger to mark out an initial skate track according to information I’d collected about sound pollution, space and construction when building a skate park. The idea was to allow the community to start using the space, walking the track and understand it's size and feel in the area, therefore they were able to provide better feedback and creative input on the design. 

Skate park from above entrance to site
Native planting and potential climbing wall
Performance stage made from metal structure and grass beds
Nature corner with bee hives, bat boxes and gardening facilities
Growing a native wildflower meadow
Testing the BMX ramp by foot
Testing the skate rail
Exploring nature that has moved in
View of skate track
Feedback on what is wanted in the area
Drawing ideas generation
Enjoy the pallet seats
Planting straw bales with vegetables for temporary shared planters
BBQ and conversations
Biodegradable planters — Made from digestate, a waste material from a local Aerobic digester producing green energy, these planters act as a plastic free pot but also can be planted with the plant giving out nutrients to the plant and supplying drainage.
A swallow house — Built from waste construction materials to house swallows whose nearby nesting spot has been destroyed. About 15ft off the ground, the swallows can safely nest away from danger.
BMX ramp — Made from discarded ply, a simple way to entice young people to the area and get them engaging with the space.
Swallow Nests — These mud and clay mix nests will be placed in nearby trees or to put in the swallow house. Hopefully they will be used for nesting however, even if they do not use these specific nests they will encourage nesting next to them.
Straw bale planters — Used as temporary planters, these are a great way to grow seasonal vegetables, especially if you have no earth to plant them into. All donated by a local sheep farmer.
Bee bricks — Using locally dug clay, we made our own bricks and fired them in a pit on site. These will then be used to provide homes for solitary bees, we are planning on making brick planters as a more permanent solution to grow shared fruit, herbs and vegetables in.

Manuals

These manuals are designed using local materials specific to the area. They then can be used for community run workshops, encouraging engagement and education through making.

Future events and socials page — This site is being set up to not only help encourage donations and fundraising events for future development projects for Puddle Meadow, but to also to update on progress, successful workshops and to increase participation in events and socials.
Nature watch — This 'network hub' tracks local biodiversity, educating on local wildlife and increasing interest for the natural world and has a free skill sharing page to allow public access to successful art and design projects. The community can book the area for theatre performances, school workshops and fêtes.

About The Project

Puddle Meadow is a new space created in southwest Dorset. A playful and interactive outdoors area which can evolve over time to reflect the community and meet the needs of young people. The aim is for the space to be malleable and not into fit one standard format of structure, it includes playful elements, conservation methods and structures to allow for creativity, such as the performance stage.

The aim is for the skatepark is to attract youth from the area and will become a component of a larger plan to incubate foot traffic and build a vital, social space. The skate park would then be intertwined with nature, not separating one from the other. The project welcomes young people from all walks of life to meet in their local area in an unstructured and freely accessible way and encourages them to use their imagination in developing the space. It seeks to help local communities to engage in their own programs and have the space to run small groups, involving less travel and improving inclusivity and diversity. This site therefore becomes a ‘knowledge hub’ where new initiatives can be tried out and studied.

To kick start the project, a series of nature-based workshops were run to bring members of the community together, start conversations and get to know the site. This meant there was involvement in the development of the space from the get-go, encouraging young people to make the space their own. The initial launch of Puddle Meadow was held last month in the form of an afternoon and evening event to introduce the concept and let the public see the existing natural beauty and potential of the site. The site has been called ‘Puddle Meadow’ due to it backing onto a meadow and the River Piddle or Puddle which flows through lots of small villages incorporating the word ‘puddle’ or ‘piddle’ such as Tolpuddle, Affpuddle, Piddlehinton etc. These are the communities most likely to use the site which gives an unusual and playful character to the area whilst making it their own. I was careful not to use words like ‘park’ or ‘green’ which perhaps come with certain expectations and might stunt imagination within the space.

Moving forward, I am currently designing a website for the community to use as an information hub for future workshops and events and to share more making manuals. Through it they will be able to follow the site’s progression over the months and years as a live project. The website will hopefully provide inspiration to other rural communities to encourage similar projects. I am also starting some collaborations with local craftsmen and sourced materials to design bespoke pieces for Puddle Meadow, fitting into its ethos and offering maximum benefit for the local area, including a shared storage shed, a vegetable and herb garden, a performance stage and seating.