Design Schools: Please start Teaching again.

well put. its all about a balance, indeed.


Apparently CSVEN thought this was worth commenting on within his blog, but not on here.

Have a look:

that is why internships & co-ops are so necessary, and i would hope that teacher try to get the students prepared to be as competitive as possible in the professional arena…

as a recent graduate, none of the places i interviewed (nor any of my peers) were overly concerned with “design thinking”, not to say that it was not in fact the professionals who came to critique our work, noted that their 1st priorities in filling entry level positions were skills based…

i am even not sure what “design thinking” is? i think people forget what it was like when they were a new designer, how much they did not know and how much they learned on that 1st job. it makes sense to me that whatever “design thinking” is it is informed by the design “doing” & “making”

I find these individuals far more valuable for their analytical skills than a classic (second-era industrial designer) who would sketch the wrong stuff all day.

isn’t that apart of the design process? sometimes going down the wrong path helps one get to a better end result…

I think we should clarify “design thinking” a little. Here’s my take, and I invite others to give their own interpretation.

Most schools focus on the process of designing - the cycle of discovering problems, defining opportunities, and creating potential solutions that eventually result in a final product. But some of these schools lose sight of the individual skills (sketching, modeling, graphic design, video?!) required to be excellent at the steps within this process.

The result may be a person who uses a good process but does not share their information well because they lack some of the skills for it.

Its a balance of teaching both the process and the skills that makes the best education in my opinion. After that, its up to each person to discover their strengths and make the best out of their 4-5 years.

I believe the term “Design Thinking” doesn’t apply AT ALL to the Design Doers. It applies to the Design Decision Makers…who 9 times out of 10 are NOT Designers. They are marketing mgmt, etc.

It applies to MBA type students. It allows them to understand the process of Design and weigh the risks and understand the value of Design. It helps the Design Doers have a better line of communication with the Design Decision Makers.

ip: Thanks for posting csvens comments. Enlightening stuff.

I really see both sides. The core of my school was forged from what is being taught over at IIT, although I think I have decent traditional skills and pretty good researching skills. I think I’ve done pretty well so far, all things considered.

Looking at what some schools are teaching though, I understand where the negative comments are coming from. Personally, I blame it on the increasing number of ID programs. These programs, largely teaching minimal artistic skills, are crap schools and we IDers should maybe start calling them out for what they are.

With the schools which do teach something good, I think they can all work on being a bit more well rounded. My school could have been a bit more thorough on traditional skills and CAD. I see alot of students with beautiful artistic ability, who are unable to communicate why any of their designers are better than any other design. I can’t see how these people would survive in a presentation. I’ve also found designers who are completely incapable of doing basic research. This should be taught in school, since every university should have a giant library filled with people whose sole mission in life is research. I’ve met some lazy designers who don’t get the ball rolling because they are waiting for someone else to fill in all the holes on the design brief. Argh!

Back on topic though…D-schools etc. I think that teaching design thinking is a great part of design education. If it weren’t for the D-school influence I have, I would be unable to discuss intelligently the pros and cons of my design, and I’d probably waste alot of time drawing rather than designing.

Either management needs to write far more precise design briefs, or designers need to get far better at figuring out what to design (and be able to explain the benefits to the client).

I’ve met some lazy designers who don’t get the ball rolling because they are waiting for someone else to fill in all the holes on the design brief. Argh!

Hey, Mr-914…can you elaborate on this a bit? Give some examples of what you mean?

I am on the front line of this issue in my classes – I know exactly what the article is about. I am all for designers moving up the decision-making chain in companies and working with brand, strategy, and research from the start of the product development. Unfortunately a lot of this gets dumber down.

A few thoughts for schools:

Stop just using the words innovation ad infinitum. MERELY USING THE WORDS innovation, business, branding, user experience etc. is not TEACHING innovation, business, branding, etc. Please… get specific and stop the lip service.

Stop selling us out: aesthetics are a core competency for industrial designers. I see people belittling and distancing themselves from aesthetics in an effort to court business. It’s “just styling” which will all be sent overseas. Yes, there is bad design that simply slaps a look on top of a functional structure without any consideration. That’s not styling – it’s just bad design. We aren’t just “problem solvers” in the sense that engineers or MBAs are problem solvers. We bring an understanding of FORM and how it is part of the problem at hand.

Stop acting liking drawing and modeling are trivial. How many people graduate and immediately get design management jobs before working as a jr. designer (I’m asking… I honestly don’t know)? Are we just going to conduct research, meet with execs, prepare a 30 page design brief for the real designers? Shouldn’t we call the degree Masters in Design Briefing and Development (MADBAD)?

Stop letting/encouraging students to research and design things that would never be developed by an industrial designer. I’m talking about extremes here – things that should be left to operations researchers, engineers, psychologists, anthropologists, MBAs and Statisticians. YES designers should be generalists and adept in a number areas, but if the problem at hand is amenable to hard-core quantitative analysis… forget it, you’re out of your league. If there is no element of FORM in the problem, why would anyone pick a designer to address that problem?

And finally, the overuse of “design thinking” is vague and annoying. Much of the time what people are referring to is just THINKING.

That has been going on for a long time. Form is often dismissed instead of expanded on. The function of form cannot be understated. I never understood why schools don’t make visual semantics a requirement.

Funny. I’m with you. I got into this field to design, not write a research paper so an intern can design. Now that I am a director, keeping my hand in projects while researching, putting together brand direction documents, working with marketing on line planning and briefs, managing my team, the work flow, and the upper brass is a serious tightrope act… I doubt that someone right out of school with no experience doing design could manage the process. Without spending 10 years doing it, how would you know how long things take, what it takes to get them done, how to foster creativity, and so on. So I would assume the answer to your question would be somewhere between -10 and .5

Ditto, well put.

I have a BS in ID and an MBA. The MBA took me because of my background in ID. The biggest downfall for me was that they relied on me to teach and showboat the benefits of designer’s thinking to all the non-designer students (engineers, scientists, and marketers mostly). Unfortunately, in the end everyone that didn’t “do” design before won out and all I was left with was mixed messages.

I have interviewed for several marketing and design positions since I’ve graduated and nobody knows what to do with me. They all prefer I was one discipline or the other.

I think that schools use buzz-words for publicity. They really need to focus on convincing employers to incorporate these new-breed designers into their existing framework.

Additionally, I made the mistake of thinking a MBA could buy me a ticket into middle management, without the relevant experience. Now I can’t accept entry-level positions due to debt from student loans, but I don’t have enough experience to move into middle management.

Future-grads beware, a degree doesn’t equal experience.

The beginning of the MBA bust?

When I interviewed for Director, (of a large, conservative healthcare company) I specifically asked if an MBA was a requirement. Their response was that they ‘could teach a great designer how to be a businessperson, but couldn’t teach a businessperson how to be a great designer.’

When I later staffed my group, I hired MFA’s with little experience and BFA’s with plenty of experience.