Design Education

I am currently working on my thesis concerning industrial design education with emphasis on the first “fundamental” year. Are there any sources relating to design education, theory, interdisciplinary projects, or pedagogies?

Also, I would love some thoughts on how your design school expriences were. If you had an inspiring prof. or some things you wished you had learned now that you are in the field would be some helpful insights for me.


My school’s program:

36 credits to be fulfilled in the first year, including 2 ID studios, basic vis com, and a bunch of foundation courses like drawing, color and light, 2D and 3D design, libral arts and so on. The ID studios, really, was just to let you have fun. It’s also the chance to let students experience the process from ideation to final presentation. Then, a final review of everything that the student has done in the year by instructors across the entire department.

What was good:
The program pretty much covered what needs to be covered. It’s really busy especially for freshmans have been used to partying all their life but definitely acceptable, because it gets harder later. The review helps you guage where you stand, or if you are on the right track. A nice way to end the first year.

What I would have wished for:
Higher standard and not try to accomodate everyone. If a student is clearly not suitable for the program, they should be adviced. Tougher and more demanding classes on basic drawing fundamentals like perspective, cus I wish I had that understood earlier. The review can be confusing, or not turn out to be the way you have expected. In my case, I worked my butt off, putting all the efforts to make sure I give everything I’ve got. I did well in the class. The instructor has praised me all semester, then on the review day, he threw out all the negative comments. Well, I was kinda disappointed with him because he could have told me that when he felt so and give me the time to improve. In the review, teachers who don’t know the student will make judgment based on the teachers who know the student, so really, it’s your luck to have your instructors present at the review. Things can get pretty subjective too.

Lastly, I wish tuition is cheaper.

warning my 2 cents is bellow:

1 An emphasis on art, architectural, and design history is lacking in most programs. We are the creatives within industry, and many of us are speaking in marketing and engineering languages. We will never be able to educate industry on design if we don’t know about it ourselves.

2 A lot of programs have come up to speed on 3d modeling which is great, but looking at a lot of portfolios, it seems that some of the emphasis on 2d design, color theory, compositon, and drawing quality has gone away. It is ever so impotant to be able to communicate your ideas 2dimensionaly in a compelling way. Look at it this way, before you spend 80-160 hours modeling something in3d, don’t you want to make sure you are not wasting your time on a piece of crap. The exporative process involves paper (or Alias sketch) and time.

The best professor in both of these areas in the US and beyond is Myron Barnstone in Allentown PA. He runs and independent studio and teaches classes out of it. The man, frustrated with art instruction, has researched for years the way that artist/designers like DaVininci and Miccelangelo thought and worked. He imparts this knowledge to art and design students for a fee much smaller than its worth. Check him out.

  1. The Co-Op program at UC rocks

  2. The bootcamp, work your ass off atmosphere of Art Center is great.

Schools where the design program is small and sometimes the ‘bastard child’ of the college suffer from the following:

  1. Required classes that add nothing to your skillset when you can take more useful electives. Calculus 1 and 2, physics, computer programming, tech comm, earth and atmospheric sciences or chem or bio, government, etc are just of the few courses i had to take because they were required.

  2. No real skill training: no sketching, prespective, color theory, rendering, etc.
    First year focused mostly on architectural drafting and architectural theory instead of laying foundations of design.

  3. No indication whatsoever of the real world design process in the first (or second or third for that matter) year. Thus students sign up for a major thay arent completely familiar with, and throughout the process become dissillusioned with their choice.

The result: a vast majority of students without basic skills graduate. Those that show promise, passion and/or some skill graduate with a feeling that they shouldve attended a different school in ideal situations, and that their skills are still under developed.

I think all first-year programs that combine majors should be eliminated. all they do is waste a year that can be invested in learning basic skills needed to succeed.

I loved my art school’s foundations year. It created a great baseline for the next 3 years focusing on design as well as exposing me to a variety of disciplines (very useful for those who hadn’t chosen a major.)

Reflecting back, I learned a lot of vital skills that year:

  • Foamcor, Letramax
    Super77 & Xacto
    Bandsaw, Tablesaw, Miter saw, drill-press, disc sander
    Art History
    Color Theory
    The “language” of art and design

Thanks for the insights. Yo, your thoughts about the following quote are exactly the path I would like to take my thesis.

‘1 An emphasis on art, architectural, and design history is lacking in most programs. We are the creatives within industry, and many of us are speaking in marketing and engineering languages. We will never be able to educate industry on design if we don’t know about it ourselves.’

I went through my foundation years in interior design school at VATech and feel that I was better prepared to push the boundaries of industrial design than my ID peers. My fundamentals skill-set learned through a more art and architectural first year gave me a better grasp on the elements and principles of design. I am not sure if this is only relating to AU’s curriculum, but from what I gather on these discussion boards that it is a wide spread issue.

I propose an interdisciplinary project, teaming up interior design, architecture, and industrial design students, during the foundations year level to expose the students to different theories and thoughts. I do take into consideration what one of you said about mixing-majors so, I think an in-depth project might start the ball rolling on revamping the current Design School pedagogies. ID is a different animal than art or architecture and we do work in a marketing world in the field, however, like Yo said, we need to learn how to speak the language.

Any thoughts or suggestions are appreciated.

Basic drawing, design and drafting-- tear down previous modes of drawing and seeing and build up an effective 2-D visual language. Focus on balance, form, shape, line, weight, shading, light, shadow, perspective, proportion etc–the basics of classical drafting.

3-D design and form/space relationships-- again builds up new ways of seeing, constructing, feeling form and spatial relationships. Focus on positive/negative space, proportion, blocking, mass, texture, visual motion. Stay away from junk sculpture or complex relationships, focus on simple basic shapes, how they go together and why they go together.

Color theroy–color, how and why it works. Focus on hue, saturation, value, scientific relationships, expressionistic relationships, psycological meaning and use, balance etc. Use any and all mediums available from oils to markers and computers.

Visual Art history-- Not the "memorize artists paintings, movements, dates Art history, but the hows and whys of that art history. Provide a context and meaning for that art and design.

Critical theroy-- class in critiques and criticism, with or with out bias.
Basic discourse is lacking in design. We can say what we like or don’t like but we have to learn how to act and react to critical comments in a diplomatic way.
It goes beyond the business side of things. A class where one must build, propose, support and defend opinions and actions effectively. (It may not be useful in the earliest foundation period but having some sort of structured excercise in discussion and discourse would be of immense help. It should go beyond the “I like,…”)

Ideally make sure that all of the foundation courses are relevant to each other, they work together to build a foundation, from which specialties arise.

Check out the curricula at the Bauhaus, the better art and design schools teach variations on it.

The ideas and objectives you outlined are quite good. It’s suprising to me how far ID foundations have deviated from these essential tools. This is the reason why I am so passionate about writing my thesis on design education.

Check out the curricula at the Bauhaus, the better art and design schools teach variations on it.

Virginia Tech, where I studied interior design, is a Bauhaus decendent and is quite proud of it. We first year students devoured the Bauhaus principles and loved the idea of such a ‘perfect institution of design’. How do you think the Bauhaus pedagogy (everyone from architect to textile design takes the first year of foundations together and gradually specialized in a specific trade) would fare in a contemporary design school setting?

Funny how IIT (illinois institute of technology,) the first Bauhaus school in the U.S. (where many of the German Bauhaus instructors imigrated to because of WWII) doesn’t even have an undergraduate program in ID anymore.

“How do you think the Bauhaus pedagogy (everyone from architect to textile design takes the first year of foundations together and gradually specialized in a specific trade) would fare in a contemporary design school setting?”

Pratt Institute requires a basic foundation course of two semesters in Drawing, Light Color and Design and Three Dimensional design for all of its visual arts majors. At least they did when I was there. Problem was that the classes were taught however the teacher saw fit, based on their own specific bias. For Example: a Drawing teacher who was an abstract expressionist comtemporary of Pollack, who held any structured drawing in contempt beleiving that teaching automatic scribbling was greater than teaching technique. A crazed coke-addled(not kidding) Light, Color and Design professor who was a pop artist, who held that scientific application of super saturated flat color was more important that 2-D relationships. A grizzled elderly indsutrial designer who taught 3-d design by making junk sculpture while ignoring basic concpets such as negative space and proportion. While each of these were valid approaches in their own right; their dissimilairity in focus was better for a fine artist than a deisigner. They actually taught what not to do rather than how to do it.

If I am correct the Bauhuas taught specific excercises whose conclusions were interpreted as the instructor saw fit. Meaning the means were the same but the end results were different, but not dissimilar.

I think the Bauhuas differed from most programs in that it focused artists training in a craft, or a profession, rather than tarining them to be everything in an artist.

so yes, I think it would be very valid to combine majors and focuses, as long as the teachers and educators would be training for a common end.[/quote]

The foundations year at Cincinnati was spent with all the design (graphic, fashion, digital, and industrial) together. It’s a whole year of drawing, quarter each of color, form, and space, art history all year, digital design (where we learned photoshop, illustrator, and cinema 4d), and then some basic freshman classes like English, math, history, psychology and electives. I had a pretty good time.

who is dflux ??

where did the regustration go anyhow ?

and why ?