Design 101 (or Design Basics)

Stefano Mirti, Anne-Sophie Gauvin, Giulia San Gregorio, Dott. Lucia Giuliano, and Prof. Giovanni Pasca Raymondi, Iversity

Design your own world. Are you ready? This MOOC is a journey into contemporary design through 101 exercises. Learn by doing and transform your everyday life into 101 projects.

About this course

Design is foremost a language. A language shared, talked and discussed by designers all over the world. Things, people and places we all know about.

To discover more about the Design 101 mindset, you can follow our course preparation on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It would be nice to receive your feedback!

Design your own world. Are you ready?

Design 101 is a journey into contemporary design in which you will transform yourself and your everyday life into 101 projects.

For three months, you will develop basic design attitudes that will allow you to thrive in today’s world, while restoring your understanding of its mechanics. We live in a global community where the physical bits are slowly (and not so slowly) overlapped by social media. Design has become #design. Indeed, the use of new technologies has changed the teaching and, by the same token, the nature of the past; the past is being renewed. Herein lies the conceptual hinge of Design 101: a new way to learn a new design.

To do so, we will collectively explore the tools of today (such as this MOOC platform) to step into a fantastic voyage through time and space, in which we are all absolute beginners.


Design is everything. Design is objects, buildings, sports, games…our lives. Johan Cruyff, a very famous footballer and fantastic designer, once said:

“I never practice tricks. I play very simply. That's what it's all about. Playing simple football is the hardest thing.”

very simply

Everyday, you will receive a special package from a different place along our journey. The package will introduce objects, characters and happenings that are intertwined with the narrative of the course.

Each bundle will include 2 main elements:

  • An animated postcard announcing the day’s brief.
  • A letter exploring subjects in depth with the use of links, books, movies, music and more.

on a weekly basis

Each week, there is a new unit consisting of seven postcards/briefs outlining a few simple activities to trigger your imagination. From 15 minutes to one hour of work per day at the most. The quicker, the better!

On Mondays, you get an overview of the week and a quiz to complete. Then, following our input, you start working.

By Sunday, you will upload images of what you made during the week.

You will refer, think and create a lot of different things. Not easy, but surely fun!

Our special trip will end with a three-day festival: a special event in a special place to exhibit your work to the public and get to know your travel mates.

forum: questions and answers

Doubts, ideas, whatever comes to mind. It is a perfect place to get entangled into discussions and become a true actor within the community.

In the design world, questions are much more interesting than answers. This is why the best questions asked in this forum will be redirected to a Design 101 e-book, to be printed at the end of the course.

extra! extra! encyclopedia!

If you are of the curious kind, we have a special page with all the people, places, things mentioned throughout the course. We could consider it our mini-encyclopedia.

Once we have a shared vocabulary/language, things become meaningful. Conversations start up quickly and flow nicely.

Like any other language, “design” is in constant change. Our mini-encyclopedia is a great foundation upon which to build your own collection of references.


The course will officially start on October 28, 2013 and end on February 5, 2014. However, the course will remain "open" until April 20, 2014 (to give you more time to complete the homework).

Content of the course/journey:

The various things to do (so-called “hands-on” activities) will be divided into 14 units, one per week.

  1. Intro: Acquaint yourself with the course’s dynamics.
  2. Myself: Represent one's self.
  3. My diary: Learn about the design process by creating a very simple object.
  4. Kitchen Stories: Become an expert at something and develop basic social skills.
  5. Visiting You: Look back at what we have done so far.
  6. It’s alive: Design as a garden.
  7. Voyage into my room: Understand interior spaces, plans and measures.
  8. Making things: Get familiar with shapes, colors, materials. Plan a series.
  9. Christmas break: Lots of greetings + some more.
  10. Zoom out (the city): Observe the public space in a new way (and map it).
  11. Telling stories: Form doesn’t follow function. Form follows fiction.
  12. Dressing people: Understand what “custom-made” really means.
  13. Road to nowhere: Learn to become self-sufficient.
  14. Ready to show? Ready to exhibit?

Learning objectives

Design 101 will help you understand:

  • How the world looks through the special lenses called "design".
  • Who shares your visions and ideas (who could collaborate with you in the future).
  • How a community works: its behavior and potential.
  • What skills and attitudes you have: their merits and limitations.

Prior knowledge

No prior knowledge is required. If you have a lot of prior knowledge, it might make the learning process more difficult, but don’t worry, no one is perfect. As we said, if we talk about contemporary design, we are all "absolute beginners"!

Questions or comments?

Write to Ms. Lola (our so-called secretary, but actually the real boss of this whole venture) at:

Then, you can follow Stefano Mirti on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. He would love to hear from you!

The platform

Please have a look at the FAQ if you have any general questions regarding the platform.


Course by: Stefano Mirti and Anne-Sophie Gauvin with Lucia Giuliano and Giovanni Pasca Raymondi With: Giulia San Gregorio, Lola de la Arena Graphics: Marco Agosta, Alica Horvathova, Andrea Molteni Video: Pierluigi Anselmi, Carlo Altera Sound: Duccio Servi

Design 101, a whoami production for Iversity. A collaboration between the Abadir Academy of Fine Arts and IdLab.

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Course instructors

Stefano Mirti

Architect, designer, teacher, etcetcetc.

He knows a lot (and writes a lot) about design, fashion milan, school, design school, architecture. He planted the seed of Whoami, the prototype of new school on-line / off-line / game and happens to water it once in a while. Before Mr. Mirti got his PhD in Architecture at the Polytechnic University of Turin, he held a postdoc position at Tokyo University and was teaching at Tama Fine Art Academy (Tokyo) and at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea. Thereafter he worked as a Director of NABA Arts and Design Academy in Milan before being in charge of the design course at Bocconi University. Since 2006 Mr Mirti is one of the partners of Id-Lab (responsible of all the design activities) in Milan. He is one of the two curators of the Biodiversity Pavilion for Milan World Expo 2015.

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Anne-Sophie Gauvin

Designer, Id-Lab

Anne-Sophie studied Art History and Architecture at the University of Montreal, Quebec. In 2012, she completed Master courses of New Domestic Lanscapes at the Naba Art and Design Academy in Milan. Since then, Anne-Sophie has been working for the interaction design studio Id-Lab in developing Whoami, a prototype of an on-line and off-line design game / school. She is also part of the editorial team of Montbeta, a french magazine from Montreal founded in 2012. As part of past achievements, she has been assistant to the curator of the MAC/VAL museum in Paris and assistant director for a ballet opera in Budapest.

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Giulia San Gregorio

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Dott. Lucia Giuliano

Director General, Abadir Fine Arts Academy of Catania

Dr. Giuliano studied Architecture in Palermo and at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya in Barcelona (ETSAB). From 2000 to 2011, she worked at Arata Isozaki’s office in Barcelona, as an architect for concept and design buildings. During her time at AIA office she broadened her interest in the intersection between architecture, contemporary culture, territory and current issues in society. She participated to several projects developed between Barcelona and Tokyo: Distrito 38 master plan and office building in collaboration with the Foreign&Commonwealth Office (FCO) London, Illa de Blanes, Isozaki Atea in Bilbao, Bahns d’Arties Resort Spa, Public Housing Carabanchel 21 in Madrid, Hotel Puerta America in Madrid or the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC) in Cairo.

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Prof. Giovanni Pasca Raymondi

Scientific Director, Department for Design, Abadir Fine Arts Academy of Catania

Professor Pasca is president of the Italian Association of Design Historians. He is director of the free magazine Design Review in Palermo and the on-line magazine Further he promoted in 2008 the first International Competition Mediterranean Design with exhibitions and conferences in Istanbul and Barcelona and has been the curator of several exhibitions in Italy, Turkey, Brazil and the US. He was professor of History of Design from 1998 to 2008, chairman of the Bachelor Course and the Master Course in Design for the Mediterranean area at the University of Palermo, where he was also coordinator of the PhD in Industrial Design. He also teached Contemporary designers at Politecnico di Milano, Design at IULM and History of Design at ISIA in Florence.

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