For the most part I agree with what motivated Don Norman to write the article that he did: many young designers over stretch their abilities without acknowledging their shortcomings. Sure, it doesn’t take many design contest entries, student/recent grad portfolios to convince you of that fact.
But why must we assume then that these shortcomings are directly a reflection of the shortcomings of their “crappy traditional design” education, and not perhaps more a reflection of the hubris of youth, or inexperience?
I know many young doctors and lawyers who are probably equally ignorant of the challenges that they will face in the “real world”, should we blame their education as responsible?
This was the main problem that I had with this article in that it seemed that Don Norman is most frustrated by the sort of design that happens in isolation: entries from design competitions, student work, or design academic writings.
As a reviewer of submissions to design journals and conferences, as a juror of design contests, and as a mentor and advisor to design students and faculty,
Well what about the practicing professional designers, the people, as Michael pointed out, who do this everyday and 99% of the time do it in interdisciplinary teams, not as some singular all-knowing unit? There’s no discussion of how crappy the everyday designer is at their job. No calling out of how disgusted he was with the designers he saw while VP at Apple or executive at HP. No mention of how the chair he’s sitting on is breaking as he types because some designer didn’t have enough science under his belt…
Yes, when designers try to solve all the worlds problems by themselves then summarize their findings in a neat “blog-ready project” on their Coroflot or Behance profile and then proceed to shout it out from the Twitter mountain peaks, we can all acknowledge that they are being foolish and naive. These actions are NOT a reflection of the whole field and certainly do not warrant concluding an article by saying,
Today’s designers are poorly trained to meet today’s demands
That’s a bold statement to make, and one that I would argue was not substantiated with any meaningful evidence.
To answer your question thirdnorth, I think you have to evaluate for yourself what kind of designer you want to be, because yes there are certain things that you will not get from a traditional design education. Do I see any inherent added value in simply picking a Master’s degree other than design, heck no. Every major is what you make of it, and each will have it’s own short comings and benefits.
For me, while I acknowledge the fact that the field of design is constantly evolving, I have to decide for myself what sort of designer I want to be, and not try to chase what the hot designer fad of the year is. I am a visual problem solver, that’s my personal definition so it made sense for me to guide my education path in the way I have. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, I can respect that, but neither is 20 years of post grad education all in hopes of becoming some wholly enlightened super designer.
I apologize for the rambling nature of this post, I had been mulling over Don’s article for the past couple of weeks
Michael, I’ve appreciated your recent articles on Core, especially your “3 artists every designer should know” and look forward to seeing more of your articles on the blog.
Now where’s my dang sketchbook and ballpoint pen…