We are OFFFENCE, a collective created in 2018 by 12 students of Design Academy Eindhoven who wanted to explore the possibility of setting up our own education.

Our goal was to create an environment in which we could learn collectively, in dialogue with each other, and in direct relation to our surroundings. In a context far removed from the reality of an institution. We took things into our own hands, and gave ourselves the choice to teach one another.

Setting up OFFFENCE was a process of learning in and of itself – be it developing a curriculum, reflecting on our core values, working with collaborators, managing the budget, finding shared living and working spaces, establishing communal ways of being.

We also wanted to create a support network for ourselves – we developed tools, techniques and practical strategies to deal with the freedom of living and working together abroad for half a year. We tried to re-imagine voting systems, interaction filters, communication methods, dinner menus, community living, note-taking and archiving. Some of these tools you can find on this website, an archive of our time shared.

After our experiment in Matera, we continued to reflect upon our experience and translated these into a publication and several workshops.

To stay updated, check our Instagram.

Our zine is available here.

Educational Toolkit
The OFFF ENCE Educational Toolkit
    In February 2018, we collected around shared educational values and declared them with a manifesto. Ever since, this document has evolved drastically.

    To keep shared visions in perspective, and documents organized, we started using Google Drive. This was our central platform for managing shared documents, schedules, meeting minutes, and our archive of photos, videos, and especially audio recordings. We also created a Facebook group to make less formal announcements and share fascinations. Our least formal channel of communication was our group chat.

    As a collective trying to direct their own education, we took a lot of decision making into our own hands, be it developing a curriculum or finding a workspace. Of course, we cannot make all decisions all together. Early on in our process, we decentralized our decision making, and 12-person group meetings were broken up into smaller working groups, and mediated by meeting agendas.

    Our educational pursuit had to be communicated to and validated by our institution. We did this through our minor outline, where we defined our general aims and ambitions as students initiating the 6th of 6 minor programs within Design Academy Eindhoven. 

    Creating our education also required some planning. We attempted to activate the values and objectives of our education by proposing different curricula. Moreover, after several budget studies, we came up with an expense list. This included, of course, a physical toolbox. 

    One of the first unspoken agreements we made was a rule for group dialogue: To have a discussion, we sit in a circle, and face each other. This came naturally to us, and was never actively brought up. All other tools we created or appropriated follow this.

    As soon as we arrived to Matera, the amount of group discussion and collective decision making tripled. We agreed on rules of engagement to facilitate dialogue, which include a system of communication hand gestures, a voting method, and other guidelines. During the course of the semester, we started assigning participants temporary, rotating roles for our discussions which include a moderator and a note-taker, who are often supported by a time-keeper.

    An important part of our education was living together. We wanted to learn to be versatile and flexible with varied living situations, we developed a housing schedule to create and maintain discomfort. The houses had to be kept clean, where the importance of collective cleaning times came through. We were very committed to our financial transparency. We used Splitwise to manage group expenses and ensure that loans stayed in check.

    We experimented with time-management as well throughout the course of the semester. We regularly changed weekly schedules, and found great value in collective kick-off and recap times in our weekly routine. We were having difficulty, however, defining other fixed weekly moments to collect. To solve this, we created a proposal-based initiative list, that defines a time schedule based on personal agency.

    A lot about our education was based on voluntary proposals, such as the 3-day assignment system and Italian language classes. Documenting our references was an extremely important part of our process, so we put everything into one central, shared reference bank.

    As soon as we each started developing personal fascinations, researches, and projects, we wanted to share them with each other. We also noticed the urgency to give and receive feedback. So, naturally, we dedicated a weekly slot to peer feedback sessions. That time slot also gave us the opportunity to get further involved in each other processes, and helped initiate several individual and collaborative projects. 

    We also acknowledged the value in receiving feedback and workshops from more experienced professionals, so we made sure to invite some local and foreign collaborators, to share their knowledge and experience with us. This would either happen in our workspace, their workspace, or the digital space.

    We wanted to push the boundaries of what we knew as education, so we decided to test our newly-established formats of discussing and learning with experimental filters. We also wanted to question what we were taught was “educational validation”, and two of the most important tools we created were a framework for our evaluation criteria and an assessment sheet. 

    Above all was our collective and individual well-being. We practiced non-violent communication in all our channels of dialogue and tried to create a support system for each other with group therapy sessions. An important tool we kept each other aware of, was that everyone had the right not to participate. 

    Our collective pet was called Zippo. 
We're still working on making our toolkit mobile-friendly. For the time being, it works best on desktop.