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06 APRIL 2014

State of Design: How Design Education Must Change

"But design faces an uncertain future. The traditional design fields create artifacts. But new societal challenges, cultural values, and technological opportunities require new skills. Design today is more human–centered and more social, more rooted in technology and science than ever before. Moreover, there is need for services and processes that do not require the great craft skills that are the primary outcome of a design education.

Although design can sometimes bring creative insight to new problems, this ability is more of an art than a science, limited to a few especially talented individuals and design firms. In order to expand beyond chance successes, design needs better tools and methods, more theory, more analytical techniques, and more understanding of how art and science, technology and people, theory and practice can commingle effectively and productively. ...

Design is still mainly taught as a craft. There are remarkably few fundamental principles, almost no science. If design is to live up to its promise it must create new, enduring curricula for design education that merge science and technology, art and business, and indeed, all the knowledge of the university. Design is an all–encompassing field that integrates together business and engineering, the social sciences and the arts. We see a tremendous opportunity for students that learn design in this integrated way. ...

For design to succeed, grow, achieve its potential, and train future leaders, we envision a new curriculum. In our vision, these new programs combine learning the art and craft of beautiful, pleasurable well–crafted design with substantive courses in the social and biological sciences, in technology, mathematics and statistics, and in the understanding of experimental methods and rigorous reasoning. Programming and mechatronics are essential skills in today's product world. Not only will this training make for better practitioners, but it will also equip future generations of designers to be better at developing the hard, rigorous theory design requires.

Design is an exciting powerful field, filled with promise. To meet the challenges of the 21st century, design and design education must change. So too must universities."

(Don Norman and Scott Klemmer, 25 March 2014)

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TAGS

2014 • analytical techniques • analytical thinkingart and design education • behavioural sciences • call to actioncomplex phenomenacraft and materialscraft skills • creative insight • creative leaders • deductive reasoning • design academics • design and visual culturedesign artefactsdesign craftdesign curriculadesign curriculumdesign educationdesign education must changedesign facultydesign methodsdesign pedagogydesign studio educationdesign theory • design theory and practice • design thinkingdisciplinary specialisationDonald Normanexperimental methodsexperimental type design • finding and solving problems • formal design methodsfundamental principlesinductive reasoningintegrative practicesinterdisciplinary knowledge • LinkedIn Influencers (series) • material practicesmateriality of artefacts • mechatronics • people and society • people and technology • practical theory • practice and theorypractitioner wisdomquestioning traditionsScott Klemmersynthetic thinkingsystematic approachsystems thinking • technology and people • technology designtheory and practicetheory of designthinking toolsuncertain future • well-crafted design

CONTRIBUTOR

Linda Carroli
04 OCTOBER 2013

Meredith Davis: A Call to Action for Design Educators

"I believe that design education, at the most fundamental level, views complexity as a problem to be overcome through reductivist artifacts, not as an inevitable and pervasive attribute of life in the post–industrial community. So if the future is about an ever–expanding web of connectedness, how are we preparing students for meaningful work in this complex world? I'd like to suggest that we're not. Despite the obvious emotional impact of Glaser's poster, he belongs to a generation in which the goal of design was to make things simple. Negroponte, on the other hand, is a technologist for whom the design goal is to render the complex manageable and to make complicated things meaningful.

Almost everything about today's graphic design education is matched to Glaser's worldview. We structure both curricula and projects in craft–based progressions from simple to complex, from the abstract to the contextualized. In typography classes, for example, we begin with the letter, and then advance to the word, sentence, paragraph, and page. Sequences of typography courses are built on this simple to complex progression, when opening InDesign demands that students address the formal and interpretive issues of publication design simultaneously; how do you defer a discussion of leading, of column width, of the modernist preconceptions of software, of language? The only option is default, and what kind of typographic lesson is that?

The reality is that our strategy for teaching typography is residue from how students could comp type in predigital times; by drawing. It is the organizational structure for every type book since James Craig's 1970 Designing with Type, but it holds less relevance for what students need to know about communication in a digital world. Typography today is a complex relational system that depends on the interplay of formal, technological, linguistic, and cultural variables. Yet we persist in teaching this progression of scale, isolating such variables within their own distinct conceptual frameworks and rules.

The same strategy exists for how students progress in other studies of form. Foundation lessons begin with abstraction: point, line, and plane; color wheels; and paper–folding exercises. We defer discussions of meaning and context until later levels of the curriculum and beginning students learn these abstraction principles only through patterns in what makes their teachers smile. Nothing about these studies resembles what students know about in the real world, and as a colleague recently suggested, what the clients of design see in our work. So what if we begin with the familiar and complex?"

(Meredith Davis, 4 April 2008, AIGA Boston Presentation)

Presentation made at W/Here: Contesting Knowledge in the 21st Century, Emily Carr University of Art+Design, Vancouver, Canada, 7–9 December 2011.

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
17 MAY 2011

Keeping Britain's special effects dream alive

"The country's reputation as the go–to Hollywood alternative was underlined at this year's Academy Awards when London–based Double Negative picked up the visual effects Oscar for its work on Inception.

The company, which has also been involved in the Harry Potter and Batman series, employs around 950 people at its headquarters in Soho.

Across the UK, approximately 5,000 people work in SFX post–production, according to the UK Screen Association.

But while business is currently booming, there are dark, computer–generated, clouds on the horizon.

A report, commissioned by the government and published earlier this year, delivered a worrying prognosis.

It warned that, while special effects was enjoying a rapid growth, the sector was also 'having to source talent from overseas because of skills shortages at home'.

The study, entitled Next Gen, concluded: 'That is mainly a failing of our education system – from schools to universities and it needs to be tackled urgently if we are to remain globally competitive.'

Part of the problem is the lack of awareness of the profession among young people, according to Paul Franklin, a visual effects supervisor and part of Double Negative's Oscar–winning team.

'There is not a huge amount of information available to them,' he told BBC News.

'Typically you tend to find that students who are seeking out courses in visual effects and film–making are the self motivated types who have gone out and found the information themselves.'

'It is something we work very hard at, but schools and colleges could be more aware about how a creative art education can be applied in the world of high–end modern digital media,' he said."

(BBC News, 14 May 2011)

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TAGS

Academy Award • accolade • American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences • AMPAS • Batmancomputer-generated • creative art education • creative careercreative economydesign curriculadesign disciplinedesign professiondigital mediaDouble Negativeeducation systemfilmmaking • globally competitive • Harry PotterHollywoodInception (2010) • lack of awareness • LondonNext Gen. reportOscar • Paul Franklin • post productionprofessional practiceSFXskills shortageSohospecial effectsstudentUK • UK Screen Association • VFX industriesvisual effects • visual effects supervisor

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
08 MAY 2011

Inconsistent design curricula and inexperienced guidance counsellors

"The vicissitudes of the market rarely dictate how many students will enroll in any given year because students' rationale for choosing a design major is not entirely pragmatic. They go to art and design schools to follow a 'creative' path, even though it may be a vague one. They could be 'natural–born artists' encouraged by family and friends to follow their muse, or they might be academically poor 'underachievers' for whom liberal arts holds little promise. Those enrolled in state or private universities or colleges majoring in graphic design may do so by default. Some enroll in fine arts programs because they love to paint, but they compromise (sometimes at the insistence of their parents) by entering communication arts programs. They may even concentrate on painting or printmaking as a minor, but graphic design is their degree goal because employment is necessary.

Despite increased visibility and recognition in the press, however, most students actually know very little about graphic design other than it pays better than fine art. A New York City high school guidance counselor consulted for this article admitted that she routinely sends her art students to art schools for 'general art' rather than focused design because she does not understand the distinction. 'I believe the student will figure out their major once in a program,' she says. But inconsistent design curricula adds to confusion, and when counselors and students are not familiar with the field itself, they cannot make informed decisions about which schools to attend, some of which are much more professionally oriented than others. Some entry requirements will only favor students who exhibit quantifiable potential, though considerably more have rather lenient enrollment policies, presuming that if a student can make a competent photograph or an imaginative collage, they can also be a graphic designer."

(Steven Heller, 08 September 2005)

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TAGS

academic scholarshipadmissions criteriaAIGAart and design schoolsart schoolsart studentscompromise • confusion • creative career • curriculum definition • design curriculadesign disciplineemployment • enrolment policies • entry requirements • fine art • general art • graphic designgraphic designer • guidance counsellors • high schoolinconsistencyliberal artsmarket forces • muse • NASAD • National Association of Schools of Art and Design • obfuscatepaintingpragmatismprintmaking • professional orientation • Steven Heller • student enrolment • university enrolmentvisibility and recognitionvisual communication

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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