DesignInquiry: Futurespective

On view from October 4 - December 14, 2019
Exhibition Opening: Friday, October 4, 2019, 5:00–8:00pm
Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art & Design
ICA Gallery hours: Wed–Sun, 11:00am–5:00pm, Thurs, 11:00am–7:00pm, Friday, 11:00am–5:00pm, (FFAW until 8:00pm)

This exhibition is organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art & Design, Interim Director of Exhibitions Nikki Rayburn, and Guest Curators Margo Halverson, Emily Luce, Gabrielle Esperdy, and Denise Gonzales Crisp.

DesignInquiry is a non-profit educational organization that explores pressing issues in design and culture. We are a collective of thinkers and makers devoted to extra-disciplinary exchange. For more than a decade DesignInquiry has spearheaded intensive team-based gatherings and shared the diverse outcomes and publications, influenced design research and teaching methods, and has inspired professional designers to rethink what design can be and can do.

We do our best work when we’re together and everything is a project. These are on page one of DesignInquiry’s operating manual. With invitations to different minds, different practices, and different approaches, DesignInquiry: Futurespective will reveal processes of design with collaborative hands-on and on-site making, curating, and exhibiting of selected work using the topic of currency (understood as value) as a prompt for a myriad of design interpretations throughout the duration of the exhibition.

DesignInquiry: Futurespective is a series of installations that demonstrate how DesignInquiry engages in open-ended extra-disciplinary exchange. On display in the galleries are multi-media installations of objects + projects that present the experience of DesignInquiry as a real-time gathering and explore the process of DesignInquiry as a collective practice of thinking and making.

Futurespective demonstrates how our practices unfold in design and everywhere. These practices are as diverse as the Inquirers themselves: we draw, write, weave, and cook; we discuss, debate, and document. Through these practices, which are conceptual as well as material, we query the way design informs culture and culture informs design.

Events, visiting artists, and designers-in-residence will intersect with MECA&D faculty, students and the Portland community. DesignInquiry: Futurespective is an invitation to witness and participate in an active design lab with the goal to make evident that while a design process may appear unfinished, unplanned, and unknown, the outcomes can surprise in productive ways that reframe initial expectations of success.

Calendar of Events

September 30 - October 4, 2019
Residency: Steve Bowden + Peter Evonuk

Wednesday, October 2, 2019: 6:00 PM | Osher Hall
MECA&D Visiting Artist Lecture: Rod Sayers

Friday October 4, 2019: 5:00 - 8:00PM
Opening Reception & First Friday Art Walk

October 4 - 13, 2019
Residency: AK/OK (M. Wright + Kate Jarboe)

October 11 - 13, 2019
DesignInquiry Pop-Up CURRENCY
[Evening Welcome Event: Thursday, October 10]

October 28 - November 3, 2019
Residency: Nick Liadis

Wednesday, October 30, 2019: 6:00 PM | Osher Hall
Lecture: "Birds and Buildings": Nick Liadis

Thursday, October 31, 2019: 6:00 PM | Osher Hall
MECA&D Visiting Artist Lecture: Matt Soar

November 1 - 5, 2019
Residency: Denise Gonzales Crisp + The Fugacious Collective (NC State MGD students)

November 2, 2019: 10:00 - 5:00
Convivium [Symposium]
[Evening Welcome Event: Friday, November 1]

November 4 - 10, 2019
Residency: Tricia Treacy + Arzu Ozkal

November 7, 2019: 6:00 PM | ICA
Gallery Talk with Tricia Treacy + Arzu Ozkal

December 5, 2019: 6:00 PM | Osher Hall
MECA&D Visiting Artist Lecture: Bethany Johns

December 6, 2019: 5:00 - 8:00 PM
First Friday Art Walk featuring o t i t o  (a palindrome); a performative dance piece from Sondra Graff + Petra van Noort

December 6 + 7, 2019: Friday, 5:30 - 10:00 PM | Saturday, 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Not the Holiday Sale: A public sale of works and components from the Futurespective exhibition and participants

December 13, 2019: 5:00 - 7:00 PM
MECA&D-GD HOMECOMING CROCKPOTLUCK: A gathering for Maine College of Art & Design Graphic Design alumni


AfterImage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism:  Review: DesignInquiry: Futurespective - Arzu Ozkal (March 2020)

Portland Press Herald: DesignInquiry's Overwhelming Show has a Welcoming Core - Daniel Kany (Nov. 2019)

DesignObserver: DesignInquiry: Futurespective - Lucy Hitchcock & Holly Willis (Oct. 2019)

Bread Baking Demos

Breaking bread together is a simple act of community; making bread together is a communal act that radiates outward in widening arcs of generosity. At DesignInquiry, bread making has been a daily practice from the beginning, a way of sharing craft and knowledge and tasty carbohydrates.

Join Charles Melcher for weekly Sourdough Bread Making Demos at the Bread Cart located in the ICA, each Thursday at 12PM.

Universal Lunch (Out of Office (Un)Common Hours) Live Stream

Each Thursday, from 11:30–1:30, the ICA will host a limited-run live-streaming web series produced by DesignInquiry on the occasion of Futurespective. Each conversation will feature Gabrielle Esperdy and Jimmy Luu in conversation with designers and contributors. You can watch the livestream in the ICA, or at

Thursday, October 3
Universal Lunch with Margo Halverson, Emily Luce, + Denise Gonzales Crisp

Thursday, October 10
Universal Lunch with M. Wright + Kate Jarboe, Judith van den Boom + Gunter Wehmeyer

Thursday, October 17
Universal Lunch with Peter Hall, Anita Cooney, + Laura Rempel

Thursday, October 24
Universal Lunch with Nate Pyper + Janet Abrams

Thursday, October 31
Universal Lunch with Vivian Sming, Matt Soar, + Nick Liadis

Thursday, November 7
Universal Lunch with Danielle Aubert, Tuan Phan, Tricia Treacy, + Arzu Ozkal

Thursday, November 14
Universal Lunch with Ian Lynam + surprise guests

Thursday, November 21
Universal Lunch with Jesse Vogler + Jesse LeCavalier

Thursday, December 5
Universal Lunch with Lucy Hitchcock, Sondra Graff, + Petra van Noort

Thursday, December 12
Universal Lunch Retrospective

DesignInquiry Participants 2004–2019

The following DesignInquirers have directly and indirectly contributed to DesignInquiry: Futurespective through their participation in DesignInquiry gatherings, explorations, and outcomes since our inception. Their leap of faith has informed what design practice can be.

Futurespective Exhibition Catalogue(s)

Futurespective Exhibition Catalogue(s)

Conceived as a series of separate signatures, the DesignInquiry exhibition catalogue is a collection of printed works in a variety of formats and materials. These independently designed pieces bring to light previously unpublished DesignInquiry writings and findings, re-conceive past topics in light of the present discourse, and commission new perspectives on the future of design. Futurespective publications aim to transcend the bounds of the exhibition space, reaching a longer-term and wider audience through a series of lasting artifacts documenting DesignInquiry’s method and practices, by expert collaborative authors, artists, designers, printers, and broadcasters.

Banner Image courtesy of DesignInquiry.