The University of Huddersfield’s busy and bustling print room within its School of Art, Design and Architecture is a unique, creative space that provides students with a collaborative environment within which to explore the potential that inkjet printing offers their design process.
The print room houses a Mimaki UJF small format flatbed LED UV printer, a state of the art Mimaki Tx300P-1800 direct to textile printer alongside further small format transfer printers, large format graphics devices, plus binding and other finishing processes.
The university originally operated the facility like a traditional university print bureau, with about five large format printers churning out posters and graphics. Now, with the facility offered to students from other courses alongside the textile users, it’s a thriving, interactive hub where students are taught to question conventional thinking and utilise the creative capabilities of the Mimaki printers to the best of their ability.
Key to this behavioural change is PhD student and senior lecturer, Brent Hardy-Smith. “I’m not here to sit and critique students’ work,” he says. “Instead, I run workshops, learning alongside the students. Our methodology is all about discovery and transformative design, using the printers as creative tools and collaborating with other technology and materials.”
“Teaching becomes more about facilitating,” he continues. “Whether that’s facilitating people, equipment or thinking, it’s all relevant to the process and helps lead the students in different directions.”
“I encourage them to ask, ‘can we?’ and to question convention,” he states. “The design software says what’s possible but it’s the Mimaki printers that add the potential, and this is transforming the way the students think about the connection between design and print.”
An annual highlight is the end of year show where the Mimaki printers have played an important role in the work on display.
“Students learn to collaborate, so are able to incorporate many different techniques in their exhibitions,” continues Hardy-Smith. “The students are encouraged to work with multiple technologies and materials, so the breadth of work is proof of how they’re flourishing as young designers and learning how to operate outside the established framework. None of this would have happened had the university had not made the initial investment in the Mimaki printers.”