2020 Global Experimental Live-Lab
Design Studio



GloWD’s GEL-Lab Design Studio presents a unique opportunity for multi-disciplinary, multi-generational, and multi-national intellectuals and creatives to collaboratively and iteratively explore new design frontiers for all aspects of applied design into the future through virtual means and methods. 


The GloWD 2020 GEL-Lab Design Studio was structured with eight (8) teams in two (2) tracks. Each team was comprised of multi-cultural, multi-national and multi-disciplinary members. Design studio participants, spanning five (5) continents from eight (8) different institutions and design programs, worked with a diversity of home institution faculty. Overcoming time zone challenges, the 2020 GEL-Lab Design Studio groups benefited from international and expert input from around the world.


For this virtual course, the design brief, developed by eight seasoned educators, asked the teams to identify, interpret and address, through and by design, any current or future world-scale issue or disaster of interest to the students and their tutor.


Using digital means and led by their dedicated instructors, each of the eight (8) groups collaborated to discuss, research and determine their special area of design inquiry. They then developed this into a final project while being challenged to maximize the broad range of skills and expertise present within the each team to produce a thoughtful and comprehensive complex solution.


In line with GloWD's intent to bridge education and practice, two key types of learning were also emphasized in conjunction with the design portion of the project:

  1. Collaboration – focused on putting the "3C's" of cooperation, communication and connection into practice for delivery under tight timescales of concept through to solutions (documented through a shared group design portfolio)

  2. Personal and professional insight – focused on self-awareness as an individual, a professional, and a discipline-based designer, individual reflection and assessment are used to develop the mindsets and skills essential for stronger current and future collaboration and innovation (documented through a self-reflection journal)

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I really enjoyed working with such a diverse group of design students across the world. This experience has taught me so much in such a short time span. The self-awareness and self-reflection process made me connect with myself as a person and designer in a way that I have never done before. Therefore, it enabled me to see the bigger picture while being able to go into detail, to reflect and evaluate everything.



University of Johannesburg, South Africa

in their own words

"It caught my attention that even though we were in different parts of the world, having very different contexts and diverse experiences, we can find something in common to work with."

"It was amazing, as all the students had similar viewpoints even though they are from such different contexts/continents. It was great to see them find common ground and then steer the project with their own enthusiasm and diverse skillsets."

"It was completely virtual, and it gave the opportunity for participants to collaborate with students from around the world in real time; to connect with other people who have a similar passion as your own. It really opened my eyes to the world and that is it so much more than the small bubble where I live and work."


"This studio required me to stretch my time management and communication skills. Balancing meetings across time zones and other obstacles forced us to make the most of the time we could communicate together. I loved being able to meet friends from around the world and learn more about them and their cultures while also focusing on something we are all passionate about – design."

"The studio was different compared to my normal experience in how the proposal needed and was done as a collective. I think the name GloWD as 'globally we design' is just perfect because it is the main core of it. We don't design as individuals, but as a team, which makes the experience so much richer."

"In this context, it was more as if the professor was another member of the team, and when we worked as a group – we were all the same."

"It stretched me in a personal way, making me aware of my own limits."

"I love collaboration and new pedagogical approaches – this experiment was well-timed with the digital tools and the pandemic."

glowd 2020 Gel-lab videos

The GloWD 2020 GEL-Lab Design Studio video channel includes an overview of the design studio, as well as condensed individual team projects tackling global challenges of ageing in place, forest fires, housing, human connection, hunger, loneliness, social isolation and sustainability

All rights reserved. No part of GloWD written, audio, or visual collateral may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, outside of its intended purpose without the prior written permission of GloWD.