Similarly Different

Similarly Different experimented with the visualisation of points of view, through remote communication and collaboration. Student designers in Farnham, Surrey, UK and Portland, Oregon, USA worked together to visualise aspects of their own cultures and towns—two places that, while both English-speaking and mid-sized—are also quite different from each other terms of culture, proximity to design meccas, and even landscape.

Designers were asked to visualise a moment/idea/thing based on a small amount of visual reference and writing provided by their partner designer in the other country. What they created might have been a literal and clear representation of information they were given, or morphed into something completely new. This new moment/idea/thing may have been born out of miscommunication, cultural differences, or simply from a merging of the original and new points of view. Either way, the final piece’s creation is dependent on both participants living in places that are similar, but different—existing only as a direct result of each other’s contribution.

How it Worked
Students at Portland State University and University of the Creative Arts, Farnham, were paired together for the duration of three briefs (six weeks). Based on a fortnightly prompt, they collected and then shared visual research as it relates to the prompt. For example, the prompt might ask the designers to share information about their region’s historical treasures. Each student then collected photos, ephemera, notes, thoughts, sketches etc, and shared it with their partner. In turn each took their partner’s  research and created a piece of work based on it.

Each student created three final pieces. These pieces, along with the research—photos, notes, writing, sketches, ephemera etc, that were provided by the partners—are being displayed in exhibitions in both Farnham and Portland.

The process was documented on a shared blog among all the students: