Meet Tony Quinn
I am Tony Quinn, Reader and Course Leader in Ceramic Design at Central Saint Martins, and a Designer, Consultant and Writer. An art school trained educator, I am a staunch advocate of messy, risky, visceral, transformative approaches to learning and teaching.
What are you doing in your professional life?
I describe myself as an Interaction Designer, though my definition of what that means is unconventional. My practice varies from designing tableware for clients such as Wedgwood and British Airways through to designing internet of things enabled objects using Artcodes, a new vision recognition system, bringing the human into computer human interaction. Fundamentally all of these approaches are linked by the idea of human interaction, whether its picking a thing up, drinking from a thing or pointing a device at a thing.
I am fully employed as Reader/Course Leader of Ceramic Design at Central Saint Martins in London. I lead a community of nearly 100 makers who like to think and thinkers who like to make, from BA, MA through to PHD.
What is important for you in your job?
The most important thing in my job, is the creative interaction with others, either students or colleagues. This can manifest itself in a range of ways, such as students starting a course community podcast (POTCAST) or staff pushing beyond the restrictions of the large university infrastructure to create playful and emotional connections with the learner. This is mirrored in my designs, when a user interacts with something I have designed in the way it is intended.
How and why are you collaborating with Kaospilot?
I worked with a Kaospilot on a module called Idea Generator at the Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design (KMD) in the University of Bergen for about 5 years. I recognised in their methods, many of the techniques and approaches from the Bauhaus inspired art school pedagogy that I used. It sounded cool too! This inspired me to seek out the Kaospilots. I undertook the Art & Craft of Designing Facilitated Learning Spaces in Aarhus where I had 23 people sing Happy Birthday in 15 different languages as part of the check out. I followed this up with part 2 (twice) in Barcelona and London. These courses highlighted the power of productive failure, group reflection and the need to activate theory to build capacity for success. Following my own learning, in Autumn 2020, Simon Kavanagh asked me to join his 1.5 course as a Mentor, this was a great experience, allowing me to create a deeper relationship with the KP methods and explore the creative friction of teaching experiential learning in a hybrid online/offline space.
What major learnings would you point out from your experience that have shaped you as a leader and/or a learner?
One of the key learnings in a subject as old and broad as ceramics is that you cannot possibly know everything. Recognising that it is ok not to know is key to learning, it activates legitimate peripheral participation, which in turn activates productive enquiry. Saying ‘I have no idea, why don’t you explore it and tell me’, is probably my most used teaching tool.
What would be an example of a learning or an experience from your time at Kaospilot that has been important to you?
The power of reflection, through mirroring, showers, fishbowls and all manner of creative approaches, that ensure the individual and group experience a profound supercharged reflective experience is the DNA of learning. Since connecting with Kaospilot this is the most profound change to my creative teaching practice.
What is your biggest source for inspiration right now?
How my students and staff team are leaning in, embracing the friction and making the teaching of ceramics online, what would appear impossible, not only possible, but exciting!
What is a piece of advice that you would like to give future leaders and Kaospilot graduates?
There is a saying in woodwork measure twice cut once, my advice is a hack of these wise words… reflect twice act once.