The evolution of Inflection Journal

By Sophie Hill

Inflection Journal is the first student-run architectural journal produced by and for the Melbourne School of Design. It explores themes relevant to contemporary architectural discourse through the contributions of students, scholars and practitioners.

The journal was initiated six years ago when three students approached Dr AnnMarie Brennan after attending her Twenty-first Century Architecture lecture, where she spoke of her own experience as an editor for Yale’s Perspecta journal. The three students, Ariani Anwar, Will Cassell and Jonathan Russell, went on to become the founding editorial team behind Inflection, applying for and receiving a funding grant together with Dr Brennan, who has continued on as the journal’s academic advisor.

Cover of Inflection Volume 06, September 2019.
Cover of Inflection Journal, Volume 06.

Ariani Anwar saw Inflection Journal as crucial in providing a powerful and unique platform for current students to contribute to the current discourse in a considered and meaningful way. “It was important to us that the journal celebrated the printed word and the collective voices of students, academics and professionals” explains Anwar, “it’s a site for provocative writing and a place to share ideas.”

Inflection serves as an important avenue for engagement within the Melbourne School of Design. It pulls together a diverse range of viewpoints from across the built environment both in Australia and internationally.

It exposes readers to new design thinking and research whilst at the same time encourages students to realise that they are already an active part of this culture of design thinking.

It takes an enormous amount of dedication, hard work and time to produce a high quality, internationally distributed and engaging publication like Inflection.

Each volume sees a different student editing team take over and steer the journal to explore new concepts relevant to the built environment disciplines.

Volume 5 editor Olivia Potter and volume 6 editor Harrison Brooks gave us some insight into their experiences being part of the editorial team, and their thoughts on the journal as it evolves and grows.

Inflection serves as an important avenue for engagement within the Melbourne School of Design. It pulls together a diverse range of viewpoints from across the built environment both in Australia and internationally.

Inflection Journal’s five year anniversary celebration. Photography by James Rafferty.
Images: Inflection Journal’s five year anniversary
celebration. Photography by James Rafferty.

What made you decide to get involved with Inflection Journal as an editor?

Olivia Potter: I have always enjoyed writing and reading. At the end of reading a piece, I think you always finish in a different headspace to where you started. I like that long-form writing forces you to carefully consider your own, and other peoples’ thoughts. It’s a kind of forced slowing down and percolation, which is incredibly important in this current climate of fast media.

Inflection sounded exciting to me as it meant I would be working with a group of editors dedicated to the same cause: producing and publishing a form of physical media. It also offered the opportunity to interview speakers from the Dean’s (and other) Lecture Series (for example Greg Lynn, Christine Wamsler and Jack Self) and to get to know other students in the faculty. Editing was a role imbued with so much opportunity.

Harrison Brooks: Throughout my studies I have enjoyed the process of research and writing. It has proved to be a great outlet for myself and a holistic way to truly indulge in architectural theory. After undertaking Dr. AnnMarie Brennan’s Twenty-first Century Architecture in my Masters, I became largely interested in architectural journals and the process undertaken for their production. I knew this was something I’d like to be involved with and Inflection provided the perfect outlet to explore this notion further.

The rounded process of working on the journal with other editors is something that I have found thoroughly enjoyable. It has been a great opportunity to explore a theme that we are passionate about and that is contextual to our contemporary.

As part of the Inflection Vol. 5 editorial team, I hosted Inflection’s five-year anniversary celebration at Testing Grounds. Members of my editing team arranged for lighting installations by Meagan Streader to be setup during the party and they were beautiful!

Why is it important to have a student run journal like Inflection in the Faculty?

OP: I see writing as a tool to generate and instil architectural thought. One of the best studios I was a part of asked students to write each week as an accompaniment to their architectural drawings. Sometimes words can more precisely contain and control what it is you are trying to say. They can also accelerate and trigger thought. For the university to produce a hard-copy, printedword publication is testimony to this belief that writing in architecture is important.

I think it’s also valuable as a marker of what the school was and represented during a certain year - who came to speak? What were some of the best student projects? What were specifically Melbourne-based architects interested in that year? It captures the Melbourne School of Design at a point in time.

HB: Writing in architecture is an important tool to express the thoughts and notions of architecture. I really value the strength of architectural writing and its relationship to architecture as I see the two interrelated with each other. Words can be direct, but they can also have so many autonomous meanings and interpretations—much like architecture.

I think it is important that the faculty supports this and produces a hard-copy publication which showcases a variety of architectural and multi-disciplinary thoughts.

What was the highlight for you during your time as an Inflection editor?

OP: As part of the Inflection Vol. 5 editorial team, I hosted Inflection’s five-year anniversary celebration at Testing Grounds. Members of my editing team arranged for lighting installations by Meagan Streader to be setup during the party and they were beautiful!

Hopefully this milestone enforces a degree of permanence to the publication! Like Kerb (RMIT’s student journal that is published through the Landscape Architecture Faculty and currently writing their 27th volume), we hope that Inflection is, in a way, now able to move with its own momentum.

Turning towards the less exciting side of things, hopefully five years also means that there are now procedures in place that allow the publication process to be as straightforward as possible. With more streamlined processes, the energy can be focused on the articles themselves, graphics, thinking about how to make the physicality of the journal sustainable, and event management of the journals’ launches.

HB: Throughout the editorship there have been multiple highlights and moments that are notable. However, I have found it most rewarding having the opportunity to interview visiting professors, architects and academics. So far, myself alongside my co-editors (Brittany Weidemann and Anna Petrou), have had the chance to interview Adam Peacock, Alison Brooks, Sir Peter Cook and Beatriz Colomina. It is always such a fantastic opportunity to sit in a room with them and hear their thoughts.

Where do you see Inflection heading in the future?

OP: I’d like Inflection to be distributed across more Melbourne architectural bookstores. I’d also like to see student work continue to be published and the thoughts of students recognised as important and worth reading about.

HB: I hope to see Inflection continuing to grow into the future. Going on to its 6th edition in 2019, I feel that Inflection has established itself and can only continue to develop. It is an important place for architectural discussion to occur and should continue to grow. It provides an important nexus of architectural discourse in its context and this is something I am excited to see grow with forthcoming editions.

For more information about Inflection Journal and for submission details, please head to inflectionjournal.com

Inflection Journal invites academics, students and professionals to contribute written pieces, visual essays, interviews and fictional works in keeping with each volume’s theme as it relates to architecture, design and related fields.