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MSD launches Inflection

The Melbourne School of Design will launch the inaugural edition of its new journal Inflection on November 20, 2014. Founding editors Ariani Anwar, William Cassell and Jonathan Russell have curated an impressive selection of articles, artworks, manifestoes and fiction by students, academics and practicing architects in response to the term ‘inflection’. We asked the team about their editorial vision and what it takes to publish a journal that aims to provoke and profile design discussion.

What was your motivation for establishing Inflection?

Our motivation for establishing Inflection is multi-faceted. Firstly, we are excited by the discourse and studio work developing within the school and want to share what we consider to be a unique and experimental moment with other students, academics and professionals, both locally and internationally. In this way, we also hope to create a platform for inquiry and discussion that supports a culture of student engagement. Additionally, as the University of Melbourne has a strong reputation as a research university the proposal for a student-edited journal is in line with this ethos. Through the journal we want to build on that rich history and to contribute to a dialogue with the other universities in Australia and abroad. Finally, the construction of a new building for the MSD has the potential to be a turning point within the faculty, and through Inflection we want to capture the first moments of change and to celebrate this new phase.

Why a printed journal and not an e-book?

As editors, we share a belief that the medium in which ideas are communicated has a fundamental impact on the way those ideas are received. As architecture students, we are necessarily concerned with questions of materiality, tactility and embodied experience. There is something singular about reading a physical journal; the texture of the paper, the weight of the object, the way it lies in your hand – these sensory experiences can have an important impact on the reading of the content. For these reasons, we have tried to create an attractive, appealing object that lends itself to the in-depth reading we wish to encourage.In our lives, we find ourselves bombarded with digital information, personally, academically and professionally. While these platforms can serve as valuable spaces for discussion, they tend towards the superficial – an update, a headline or a quick scroll. For this project we wanted to create a medium for longer-form explorations that move beyond the multitude of online sources that are read briefly and promptly discarded. This is not to deny the value of digital platforms. We have a website and social media presence, as well as an online preview of the journal. These are all important to us, especially in establishing an international presence for the journal, but they are primarily intended to lead people to the physical copy. Ultimately, we believe in the power of the printed word, the beauty of printed text and the potential of the designed physical object to reignite a culture of discourse in the MSD.

What is your editorial mandate or philosophy?

In developing Inflection, we were driven by our desire to enable discourse between students, academics and practitioners – to harness and show the dynamic and potentially reciprocal relationship between these groups. Therefore, Inflection is a student-edited design journal focused on gathering, sharing and disseminating student, professional and academic contributions to architectural discourse. A key philosophy is that of intellectual rigour: whether a piece is project-based, speculative or theoretical, it must demonstrate a genuine, personal and considered response to the issue's theme. This underpins another key philosophy: that rigorous intellectual engagement is not limited to the medium of traditional academic writing. So we have sought out artworks, manifestoes, fiction – any work that demonstrates a passionate and intelligent engagement with the theme.

Outline some of the key design or built environment issues covered in this inaugural edition of Inflection

In the inaugural edition, our name also served as our theme, so the pieces that we gathered were specific responses to the term 'inflection'. An inflection point signifies a moment of transition and the mapping out of new directions and many pieces in Inflection 01 touch on issues of edge conditions, ambiguous boundaries and the nature of change in our built environment. A number of the contributors found inspiration in the ambiguity within moments of change and the potential to harness this point of unknowing. Many contributors also teased out the potential for moments of change to provoke a re-evaluation of disciplinary and spatial boundaries.

Describe the mix of contributors to the journal

In Inflection we are aiming to create a discourse between students, academics and practitioners – as such, the inaugural edition features contributors from each of these areas, both locally and internationally. Practising architects such as John Wardle, Nader Tehrani, Peter Mallatt, and Andrew Simpson share insights into their work, and its relationship to the inflection theme. These are set alongside theoretical contributions, including pieces by French academic Bernard Cache and Thomas Mical from the University of South Australia. We have also been fortunate to have support from within the Faculty from AnnMarie Brennan and Alex Selenitsch, and also through strong, rigorous student contributions.

Part of Inflection's mission is to position the MSD nationally and internationally within a contemporary discourse. As such, we have sought out work from across Australia and around the world, including work from Lee Yang Yang in Perth and international contributors such as Lucia Jalón Oyarzun (ETSAM, Spain) and Samira Daneshvar (University of Toronto). Showcasing the work of known architects and writers alongside that of students and up-and-coming designers is one of Inflection’s central goals, to encourage a dialogue on the contemporary built environment.

How is the journal funded and how has the MSD supported the publication?

Inflection has been made possible by the continued support of the MSD, both financially and through the expertise and generosity of the School's staff. The first issue has been funded through the Strategic Initiative Fund. Just as importantly, we have been privileged to have the guidance and support of our academic advisor Dr. AnnMarie Brennan, as well as the assistance of Professors Alan Pert and Gini Lee. As a new initiative, compiling and publishing Inflection has been a learning process for us, and we have been supported at every step by MSD staff.

How can people obtain a copy of Inflection?

Inflection will be sold at upcoming MSD events, including the MSDx graduate exhibition on November 20, and will also be available in select bookstores in Australia and overseas. Inflection is published by AADR and Spurbuch, and copies can also be ordered online: www.spurbuch.de/en/product-reader-aadr/product/inflection-01.html. For more information visit: www.inflectionjournal.com