<em>Shape</em>: Doodles for Design Learning
By Patrick Sisson / Published by Dwell

As the quaint family of line drawings in the Irish cartoon Shape go about their day, chairs shift, furniture transforms, and a song straight out of an Apple commercial propels them forward. It’s a shifting world filled with lessons about form and function, one that director Johnny Kelly and writer Scott Burnett, a graphic designer, hope inspires kids to explore design and their environment.


A short animated film by Irish artists seeks to be a catalyst for design education.

Shape from Johnny Kelly on Vimeo.

The genesis for Shape was Belfast’s unlikely play for the World Design Capital 2014 designation (an honor now held by Cape Town). According to city architect Ali Grehan, an organizer, the process made those involved think about what design meant to a city and “how design is crucial to a good city.” It birthed the idea of a “kid bid”—if we explain in the simplest possible terms, the thinking went, it forces you to be smart and direct—which planted the seed for Shape.

“It’s about the importance of design and the physical environment,” says Grehan.

Released on March 26th, the video launch was an important early project for Pivot Dublin, a city council-led group that evolved from the Design Capital Bid committee and now aims to promote Irish design. Shape hopefully begins building momentum for a wider dessign education program, including Make Shape Change, an online resource, and lesson plans; the work-in-progress concept has been so well received that Grehan has spoken with Cape Town organizers about incorporating it into their events this year.

Patrick Sisson


During the course of his career writing about music and design, Patrick Sisson has made Stefan Sagmeister late for a date and was scolded by Gil Scott-Heron for asking too many questions. His work has appeared in Pitchfork, Nothing Major, Wax Poetics, Stop Smiling and Chicago Magazine.

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