the next century of design education

Looking at the lack of tenured positions, I think the universities are expecting the teaching to be done for free.

On the note of the importance and relevance of the Bauhaus being propaganda; I totally agree. It is overhyped and many people never even get introduced to other Design schools and hence just regurgitate how important the Bauahaus was. Not to say that it was not important, but Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm was far more important and spawned far more of the theory, philosophy and approach to Design in use today than the Bauhaus. People also - Bruce Archer, Dieter Rams, Gui Bonsiepe, Tomás Maldonado, Joseph Albers, Horst Rittel, etc. All far more important than anyone from the Bauhaus for design theory and pratice.

I am also a design educator and can speak from “inside the bubble”. I am potentially about to take over a couple of courses and already thinking about how to make them more lean. Design education is absolutely 10 pounds of flour for a 5 pound bag as said on the first page. In academia in the UK the limitations of the time and money you have to deliver courses give you enough to deliver 4 pounds, but you make sure to squeeze in 6.

In terms of what is being cut and what will be cut in the future, the reality is it is the physical aspects of designed objects - making and testing. Workshops are expensive and take up a lot of space in a business model where every square metre is calculated in terms of profitability. It’s cheaper to talk at 200 students in a lecture theatre, etc.

I think that going forward, with advances in software, computer hardware and user interface making software easier to learn and use the “digital twin” concept will become increasingly important and adopted in academia because of the lower cost. Most of visualisation being done inside VR, anything needing to be actually tested by hand being 3-D printed (this is already commonplace over manual model making in the UK in most places).

Only furniture would be the complicated part of that - needing to be sat on, laid on, etc. but little furniture design is done in any Product Design or Industrial Design courses in the UK anymore, furniture specific courses are growing again.

Appreciate the insightful and coherent response MK. There’s already been a decline in any requirement for “hand-skills” among recent grads, and schools like Western Washington, where the capstone project has traditionally required handcrafted aluminum as a media, are seen as anachronistic.

This is a great topic. I’ve never been the hot hand, instead I’ve been the blender - the guy who views design from the business perspective and makes decisions with both in mind.
I’ve spent a dozen years in corporate ID and a dozen years running my own consultancy, and now for the last two years also teaching. I teach “An Introduction to Creativity and Innovation” to professionals from all walks of life, and I teach “The Intersections of Design and Business (I and II)” to Masters students earning their MA and MBA simultaneously. Both Universities sought me out because they consider me to be a subject-matter-expert, not a professor of academia. That’s a trend I’m seeing in other schools as well.
I made it clear to both that I was tossing out the syllabi they provided and that I would be building a syllabus and content that would be unorthodox to their established programs. I do not lecture, I do not follow standard rubrics, I do not believe in “read then quiz”. My students and I have conversations, we challenge what we see around us, we learn about how we arrived where we are, what’s gone wrong and what’s gone right. I do not use buzzwords - they weren’t the same buzzwords 20 years ago and they won’t be the same words 20 years from now, but the content of each is fundamental and will remain the same so I concentrate on that instead. I provide thought provoking assignments, impromptu in class exercises and real word challenges outside of class. I talk in terms of increasing revenue and pleasing clients. I talk about my career wins AND losses. Like the author from Microsoft I also talk about my guilt, my discourse with the industry and my attempts to right the wrongs. I encourage the students to ask every single question that comes to mind because if I have any answer or similar experience to recount I want to do so for their benefit.
I use only the development process I’ve refined over the years and that I currently use with every client we take on. I tell them this is simply intelligent design because we use every logical resource to create the best end-result. And I do this because my process encompasses everything from the nugget of thought through to the store shelf and to the end-of-product-life (and beyond) without being fractured to study just one step ad nauseum. I’ve found students get lost in the weeds otherwise.
I embed the business side of our craft into each step, because, after all unless we’re creating art for personal satisfaction we’re doing so for profit, either our own or someone else’s.
So far both class reviews have been excellent - students find this approach refreshing and they seem to learn a good bit as well. In our industry (and most others) what was is no longer - we’re looking for “what’s next”!

GWN…Glad to learn that you are reaching those who are curious about design and want to upskill. I’m curious to know what sorts of backgrounds people bring to your classes. Apart from the MBA track students, are you seeing those from other fields attend your classes?

As we have seen design become spread around quite a bit in the last 15 years, many are curious to know how design can benefit their already established backgrounds in Business, Material Science, Anthropology, Psychology, Sociology and Information Technology, among others. Do you see other perspectives being brought to your classes that challenge your pedagogical methods? If so, can you share any anecdotes about how you adapt and meet the needs of these students. Finally, what is the typical age spread among your students?

This is what is being offered in the Anglo world of design education. From one of my academic subscriptions.

Lecturer in Creative Technology

If you would like to teach in Creative Technologies and live in New Zealand consider applying for one of these amazing positions at Auckland University of Technology!

AUT’s new School of Future Environments seeks applications for exciting full-time Lecturer/ Senior Lecturer positions in Creative Technologies. Our Bachelor and Masters degrees build theoretical, practical and transdisciplinary expertise in emerging technologies and the creativity to operate in diverse and changing fields. Designed to be agile, experimental and future focused, the project-based curricula encourage students to be collaborative, embrace uncertainty and to take charge of their own education.

The successful applicant(s) will have expertise in at least one of the following areas: Imaginable Futures (material futures, design futures, systems thinking, future environments, beyond designing for humans), Social Innovation (startups, social good, new economies, incubators/hatcheries, creative entrepreneurship) and Virtual and Augmented Realities (AR/MR/VR/XR and related technologies); essentially a broader cross-disciplinary vision is desirable.

Our current team of academics have diverse backgrounds in art, design, engineering, computer science, human/animal computer interaction, tangibles, architecture, software studies, visualization, future environments, business innovation and creative entrepreneurship. This is an exciting time to join the school as we develop new majors and postgraduate program centered around the big challenges for our changing world.

We also believe that the idea of the university itself is changing. The new challenges for education, research and practice are too complex to be constrained within existing disciplinary boundaries. The future will depend on people with imagination, advanced technical skills, and the entrepreneurial ability to link-up different kinds of artistic, scientific, technical, ecological or professional knowledge in new ways. This means we need to prepare students to work in uncertain conditions.

We are looking for people who ‘get’ this vision; who bring new approaches to research, teaching and supervision, and who can play an active role in shaping the wider School. Successful candidates will be expected to; pro-actively establish and develop a collaborative research agenda; to initiate and lead new research projects; offer undergraduate teaching and post-grate supervision in areas of expertise, and; to develop productive linkages with other research groups, industry partners and external stakeholders. Experience or ability to operate in a dynamic, design and research-based learning environment is desirable. Appointment will be on scale according to qualifications and experience.

Further information about creative technologies can be found here LINK


Thank you for the questions - and for engaging.
My creativity & Innovation course has attracted project and product managers, plant managers, marketing executives, R&D directors, app designers, several small business owners and even a real estate agent. It’s the first course of a certificate program within a Department of Continuing Education at the University of California Irvine School of Business. I developed the content as a series of multimedia presentations (much like the way Robert Reich presents information) combining on camera instruction along with animations and slide deck material with voice-overs. My goal to to maximize engagement. This one is an asynchronous online 8 week course, a half semester length, so I only have the students’ Canvas photos to judge age but I think an average of later 30’s is about right.
My Intersections course is on a different level - this is an in-classroom, once a week 3 hour class over 16 weeks, so it is a traditional semester length. The MA/MBA students are enrolled in both the Maryland Institute College of Art and the Johns Hopkins Carey School of Business pursuing a dual Masters’ degree - and are paying a lot of money to do so! So I was concerned that my unorthodox approach might ruffle some feathers but I’ve seen the opposite, so far students seem to view my approach as a breathe of fresh air. And as you’ve guessed I’m constantly learning from them and course-correcting my sessions to suit so that I can make sure I’m giving them the best value for their money. Overall the only theme I’ve needed to refine or adjust is how much time spent on “entrepreneurial direction and lessons learned”. I hadn’t intended to spend much time on those topics but students are hungry for more of it. These students average mid to late 20’s with one or two in their 30’s or 40’s.

While I don’t doubt this statistic, it is entirely misleading. What kind of statistics do you have with regards to the type of research conducted by industry? My swag, 99% is applied science. Which is entirely fair. The purpose of industry is to drive profits. Research that is not driving profit is red ink. While there may be a bit of theoretical research in industry, again, it will have a bias for profit.

Research in academia has the opportunity to be theoretical, research for research sake. Although I suspect that industry is driving more and more applied research into academia. And in reality, when you come out of school, you need a job. Having people trained for that job is needed.

But I do want to make a better place for the next generation. How do I do that? How many Nespresso pods a week are OK? None? Is drinking coffee OK? I haven’t a clue. I don’t trust industry to answer. And what balance should academia have between the theoretical and practical? And why shouldn’t ID education have a seat at the table?

Good questions - I can answer from the industry (corporate) point of view, the consulting (services) point of view and the academia (although unorthodox) - and all are generally the same in my case. Stanley Black & Decker (at least when I was there) employed a curiosity driven front end, where research was not biased toward profit and often discovered cost-increase wants & needs that were sometimes implemented (not dismissed due to cost). I do the same in consulting - we can only learn true wants, needs and frustrations if there is no agenda other than to learn about a specific user group related to a product or service. Similarly, in my classes I assign field research with an emphasis on no-agenda, just curiosity within a product category or service environment.

We do the same. But it is nonetheless product-driven, applied science that has a profit motive. We looked at using compostable materials for a product that drive up cost. But we also research whether the customer would pay more for that particular feature. Add in the additional marketing value of “green” and you spit out a financial model to be blessed (or not) by the powers that be.

What I want, and what industry cannot provide, is should I trade in my perfectly fine car for a Tesla? Should I buy that new drill even though my old one makes a hole just fine? Your research and my research can find those wants/needs/frustrations and make a new, “better” solution. But don’t you think ultimately that is the problem?

One of the ways in which statistics are the most effective in persuasion is to be misleading. The statistics available that explain research conducted by industry are dependent on which source of funding you choose to get your data from (i.e NSF, Carnegie, Soros, Ellen MacArthur et al). You can go there and read their reports in order to determine and measure their bias if you like.

The pursuit and value of theoretical research (research for research sake) is a rather quaint 20th century idea. It had its place for a brief period, but no longer can afford to remain in a vacuum away from the market. So I agree with your assertion…and your swag.

Why do you want to make a better place for the next generation? There is no need to measure the balance between theory and practicality any more. Academia has already been captured by industry. All research of any kind must be modeled financially before it is begun. Today we have the tools to do so.

Drinking coffee is ok…It helps with research.

Very very…you’re turning the proper screws GWN.

Reich has lots of content on the web. Is there any particular example you can point me to?

“Research can’t tell you what to make, people can only tell you what they like or don’t like about they’ve already seen…”
I struggle with these issues as well - and I do talk to my students about the guilt of contributing to an industry that pumps out products for no other reason than to make money, need or not. I think the additive manufacturing revolution might help solve that (need it, print it, use it) but for now I agree that raw data regarding who is buying these products, where are they buying them and how many did they buy last year won’t get us any closer to the answer.
I will argue that observational research with light scripting to hit on empathetic issues might. Coupled with that, I think we can dumb it down to incentive via communication (marketing), it sounds like you struggle with “Stop trying to sell me, really, why should I?”.
If that drill works faster, is lighter and smaller then we market those features, but we also incentivize you to purchase it because this new battery uses less precious metals, does not contain lead and uses less electricity to charge. In addition, we’ll offer a trade in buy-back to recycle the battery components and the tool parts via our new we-love-green program. and for your $100 purchase we’ll also give $5 to Amazon-reforestation.
So, would that give you the incentive you need to buy again?

Tesla I don’t know - uses no gas but still uses electricity provided by coal fired plants. Unless we have Tesla’s shingles and powerwall to take the charging off the grid. Then I’m all in.

Call me the fool, I believe in the golden rule. :frowning:

If you have some time on your hands…another gem from the (soon to be retired) Anglo world masters of the universe in Design education.

Fresh from the Shi Ji Journal of Design…

Sorry - not clicking on a google mail link - where does this link to?

Assuming it’s here…
I was going to guess, but I’m eager to find out about the Anglo world master of the universe in Design education.


Shiji Journal of Design pre-production proof…hence the word “fresh”?

It’s that time again. My online course for non-designers is starting in a month (Apr-6 to May-31). If you work with project managers, engineering leadership, factory managers, etc. Send them my way. I’ll bring them back with an appreciation for what you do. :wink: