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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
08 MAY 2011

Educators who have repeated the same kerning and hand-drawn letterform exercises will find themselves teaching at a school that simply isn't focused on typography anymore

"We are a culture that increasingly questions consumption and advertising, which are at the heart of industrial and graphic design disciplines. We rely on a dynamic and constantly evolving technological platform that touches all aspects of life. There is an increased demand for service–based jobs as our country re–evaluates economic sustainability. People are demanding quality, reflective and meaningful experiences in their world.

Yet design education, as a whole, hasn't embraced these challenges and opportunities.

To be direct and explicit, educators who have taught the same foundation studies courses for years will need to dramatically revamp their courses or face irrelevance. Educators who have repeated the same kerning and hand–drawn letterform exercises will find themselves teaching at a school that simply isn't focused on typography anymore – and tenure notwithstanding, these individuals will find themselves without a role. Educators who are unwilling to retrain themselves will be replaced.

If you are one of these educators, or you work at one of these programs, you may acknowledge these necessary shifts, but find personal action to be difficult. It is difficult. And it's difficult because the shift is large, fundamental and of critical importance. You'll need to read, and take courses, and attend new conferences; you'll need to re–build yourself and your expertise in a new light. You'll go from knowing all of the answers to not even knowing the problems.

But it's no longer a matter of choice. Because if you aren't able to find a new opportunity, a new specialty, and embrace the topics described above, you may soon find yourself alone or replaced. Our subject matter is too important, and our role too fundamental, to leave to the traditions of even great educational movements like the Bauhaus. The subject of design is the humanization of technology, and as long as technological advancements continue, so the pragmatic and day–to–day jobs of designers will continue to morph. And so must design education continue to evolve."

(Jon Kolko, 2010)

Jon Kolko (2010). 'Remapping The Curriculum', AIGA | the professional association for design

AIGA Design Educators Conference "New Contexts/New Practices", October 8–10, 2010, at North Carolina State University in Raleigh

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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