Gabby Klein / Arizona State University / Student / 03.30.18

Where is design going?

Design is evolving into something that is no longer a luxury, but rather a necessity. Initiatives that prioritize sustainability and user well-being are pushing the industry to new places, emphasizing the value of Earth’s inhabitants, and reminding us of our ability to make change.

How can design education be more relevant?

Design education is much more than the hypothetical projects that occupy studio classrooms currently. It is the education of design in it’s rawest form that really contribute to student success in the industry. For example, learning theories about form and color and how they have evolved throughout time is so important in forming a foundational understanding of design concepts. From there, education should not focus on surface level design based on mimicking professionals’ work, but should rather include the specific skills that will be used in the industry as technology progresses, and how these skills can be utilized to push conceptual boundaries and make changes to what already exists. There must be an emphasis not only on the “now” of what’s happening, but also on the “when” of what’s to come.

What are the future skillsets designers need to learn now?

In regards to technical skills, designers should be fluent in the softwares most common in their field. Interior design majors should be comfortable in AutoCAD, but more importantly RevIt and Sketchup for rendering purposes. These softwares should be integrated into studio instruction as well, to encourage continued practice. Adobe softwares such as Photoshop and InDesign are also important, but tend to take less time to learn than the CAD and BIM softwares. Rendering is one skill that has been left for students to teach themselves, and it’s one of the “money-makers” of our profession; we should be taught best practices of rendering and be exposed to multiple techniques in order to expand our knowledge and make renderings relevant to each design concept. Additionally, students are expected to learn presentation skills based on trial and error. This should be addressed along with general professionalism of the industry, and the “tips and tricks” of professional success. Finally, group collaboration is a huge part of any design career and is often a case of trial and error in regards to compatibility. Not every group experience in the field will be 100% synergistic, but it is important that individuals are aware of their own skill sets and personality traits, in addition to those of others in order to come into the project with a more collaborative and comprehensive state of mind.

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

As mentioned previously, a design school should teach necessary technical skills, as well as encourage a collaborative mentality for students in order to support them in their education and prepare them for their careers. This collaborative mentality may require outside-of-studio activities or exercises to build those bods and relationships, and feel less competition towards peers. Design is a competitive field, but when a student can recognize the strengths and weaknesses not only of themselves, but of others in their profession, they exhibit a more positive attitude in group settings and are able to make the design execution a priority.

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

Equity and inclusion are a large part of design, especially because design exists everywhere in the world. Cultural differences allow for well-rounded, comprehensive ideas to take form, and encourage students to step outside their own approach to see an issue from a new perspective. Encouraging these values can be difficult, but I think it comes with building relationships within classes and studios, which can be achieved through previously mentioned team-building exercises both in and out of studio time. This also pushes students to communicate with others who they may not have been inclined to know otherwise, allowing for growth on both ends.

What other thoughts/ideas would you like to share?

Design is not a luxury, but rather a necessity, and every being deserves access to well-designed spaces. Intent is a large factor of design, and before a space or object can even be conceptualized, there needs to be a strong intent. Students studying design deserve an education that pushes their motivation and passion to levels higher than they imagined upon entering college, and they deserve professors who are dedicated to supporting students and fueling that passion and excitement. Design classes should feel important and necessary, even when they are not the most engaging in regards to topic. In school, the professors make or break the experience, and for some students that has the power to make or break their motivation. Though it is a competitive field, professors have a responsibility to foster creative growth and push students beyond their initial capabilities in order to contribute to the future of design as a necessity.

Gabby Klein

Arizona State University


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