Dan Trowsdale / University of Leeds / Senior Teaching Fellow / 05.18.18

Where is design going?

My area is Product Design.  It is important to me to ensure the word design is linked to the discipline.  Graphic Design, Fashion Design, Landscape Design, Engineering Design or Product Design all have fundamental differences.  They do of course have some overlap. This should be celebrated but also acknowledged.

What I do recognise is that a designedly approach is a valuable thing, hence the interest in design thinking.  This open minded, creative and practical approach to solving problems which can be visual, functional or behavioural is going to be increasingly important to  humans as we create and try to solve more and more complex problems.

How can design education be more relevant?

By ensuring we have the right mix of creativity and practical application.

By ensuring we continue to encourage our graduates to responsibly balance the added value design can deliver from a commercial and a social perspective.

What are the future skillsets designers need to learn now?

Creativity, Creativity, Creativity.

Being adaptable in their approach.

Having a variety of tools and methods they can apply to different types of problems.

Familiarity with the language of and application of new technologies.

Having refined skills to empathise with users.

What should a design school do to prepare students for transdisciplinary work?

We offer multidisciplinary team projects with real physical deliverables and a client.  In my view, nothing else compares to this approach to prepare students for working across disciplines.

What should a design school do to forward equity and inclusion?

In terms of preparing students to deliver outcomes which are inclusive it is important in my view to expose novice designers to challenges which require contact with a diverse range of real users.  Inclusion and equity, whether based on age, gender or ability for example, needs to be openly discussed and the criticism, evaluation and justification of designs needs to be a shared experience.

What other thoughts/ideas would you like to share?

Design is not a specific thing, is a general a term which can be applied to too many things and approaches.  It means very different things to different people. If we are to have an open dialogue about ‘design’ it is important to be specific about which aspect of design we are referring to when we speak about it.  It would be the same talking about sport for example, where athletics is going is very different to where for formula 1, football or snowboarding is going.

Dan Trowsdale

University of Leeds

Senior Teaching Fellow

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