Stop motion video “Design” by Kevin Ayala Diaz and Martin Drozdowski

Undergraduate architecture course “How to Design Almost Anything” introduces students to the process of design using a variety of media including photography, video games, and film. One of the assignments students were tasked with in the winter of 2014 was to create a video inspired by a poem. Students were asked to interpret the city and built world with the stanza as their starting point.

Students Martin Drozdowski and Kevin Ayala Diaz, under the direction of Instructor Jay Pooley, chose the poem “Design” by Billy Collins as the inspiration for their video:

“Design” by Billy Collins

I pour a coating of salt on the table
and make a circle in it with my finger.
This is the cycle of life
I say to no one.
This is the wheel of fortune,
the Arctic Circle.
This is the ring of Kerry
and the white rose of Tralee
I say to the ghosts of my family,
the dead fathers,
the aunt who drowned,
my unborn brothers and sisters,
my unborn children.
This is the sun with its glittering spokes
and the bitter moon.
This is the absolute circle of geometry
I say to the crack in the wall,
to the birds who cross the window.
This is the wheel I just invented
to roll through the rest of my life
I say
touching my finger to my tongue.

In Martin and Kevin’s words:

“We understand Bill Collins’ poem ‘Design’ as an exploration of interpreting basic shape based on experiences of the poet’s life. The circle that he uses is simple enough that it can become the frame upon which his own imagination and thoughts can form. This process of extrapolation is what we want to showcase in our short film. From this poetic stanza we created a short video on the relationships between design, architecture, and the city. This was achieved through the magic of stop motion animation, a wooden tabletop, and a lot of salt.”

For more information about the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto, visit us at


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