Eric Cesal / Curry Stone Foundation / Special Projects Director / 03.19.18
Where is design going?
Design is headed towards confrontation. Design serves dual masters: the market and the public good. The two have pulled widely apart in the neoliberal era and design is increasingly pushed into picking sides. Professionally licensed fields like architecture and engineering will not survive in their current form if they don’t reconcile this dichotomy.
How can design education be more relevant?
First thing: diversity. Design professions can’t properly serve society when their makeup fundamentally doesn’t reflect the populations that they’re serving. If design schools are populated by the 1%, then design is going to service the 1%.
Second thing: insularity. Design can’t properly serve society when they have no idea what it even is. We’ve come a long way in breaking down the isolationist studio paradigm. But there’s a lot more to go. Personally, I’d be happy to see the Beaux Artes Studio model retired.
What are the future skillsets designers need to learn now?
Empathy. Compassion. Humility.
What should a design school do to prepare students for transdisciplinary work?
Stop making them read Heidegger. Get them out of studio. Most importantly, have design critics and professors who AREN’T designers.
What should a design school do to forward equity and inclusion?
Aggressively diversify faculty, especially in senior leadership positions. Change can filter down from there. Importantly, schools must also focus on thought diversity. Having a faculty that’s multi-cultural doesn’t really do shit if everyone on the faculty is sharing the same thought about what design is or isn’t. Design schools need to be genuinely open and free places for discussion.