Musical composition and design conception offer configurations to be explored: there are many affinities in terms of creative development from ideation to experience. These terrains are complex, fascinating and raise numerous designerly questions. Composer/musician Stéphane Orlando and designer Alok Nandi are busy exploring research questions in these territories at the crossroads of multiple practices.

In French on / version française sur :


How to stimulate creativity in applied music?

_ December 4 and 5, 2023. Atelier – Design et création musicale / improvisation – Speaker | Stéphane Orlando
Location | Institut Jaques-Dalcroze, rue de la Terrassière 44, 1207 Genève – salle de conférence Schedule | 10h-17h 

_ January 22 and 23, 2024. Neuchatel : Haute Ecole de Musique de Genève, Espa. de l’Europe 21, 2000 Neuchâtel, Suisse

When we talk about the world of design today, it encompasses a multitude of disciplines: visual design, graphic design, object design, design thinking, experience design, story telling, etc. These multiple approaches all share a methodological concern in the acquisition, organization and exploitation of data within precise specifications. For example, behind the command “create a bus shelter”, the architect could limit himself to the basic functions of the place: shelter from the rain, the sun or the wind to wait for the bus. But in a design-oriented approach, the creator would first start by asking the user’s question by evaluating their needs: real-time schedules, space to recharge a mobile phone, wifi connection, interactive touch screen which provides information , etc. Then he/she would seek to promote good ergonomics: practicability for reduced mobility, offering a field of vision with transparent walls, seating comfort and a friendly and safe place, etc. Finally, the designer would seek the best possible integration into the given environment. From there will arise technical constraints to take into account. The final result must meet a given budget and show the artistic sensitivity of its author (see Raymond Loewy, “Ugliness sells badly”).

In a process of serendipity – the art of discovering or inventing by paying attention to what surprises and imagining a relevant interpretation – the participants in the improvisation workshop equipped with their instrument will be confronted with still images and films to accompany. They will have to start by establishing contextual specifications in a collective intelligence work, to implement it, secondly, by small chamber music groups while improvising. The improvisation workshop will continue by focusing on two tools often used in both design and musical creation. It is about stylization and diversion. Stylization consists of the interpretation of a natural form by simplifying or modifying it for aesthetic and/or semantic purposes. Diversion consists of reusing an initial element — images, objects, sounds, movements, texts, concepts, etc. — by diverting its primary utilitarian functions (see Duchamp’s ready-mades, Charlie Chaplin’s comedy or Internet memes). These two essential tools are real creativity boosters for composition and improvisation, especially in the context of music applied to images, cinema, dance, theater, video games, etc. The solo or collective improvisation exercises will be guided in such a way as to feel the possible extensions in a pure musical practice, outside of the multidisciplinary context.

Workshop on the ViA Framework – innovation via design

_ 5 juillet 2022. In 2022, in connection with the St-Etienne Design Biennale, on July 5th, a first workshop allowed to touch the “pas de côté” approach. The session was in French language.

Hands-on session to raise awareness of the design approach, around design and composition. How can musical innovation spring from simple concepts? How can music inspire/be inspired by other sectors? The Sampo will be taken as a case study of a design process, with the tangible side of the design of an instrument and the intangible side of the perception of sound. Workshop organized as part of the 2022 International Design Biennale in Saint-Etienne.

  • Alok Nandi – designer
  • Stéphane Orlando – composer/improviser
  • Alexander Mihalic – composer/creator of the Sampo

Info in French at


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