Jack Travis / Jack Travis Architect / Principal / Architecture, ASU 1977 / 08.03.18
Where is design going?
ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN EDUCATION AND PRACTICE IS HEADED FOR A SHOWDOWN.
Design is moving towards a schism between traditional notions of what is good design and an increasing awareness that a sober re-definition of good design must be made more relevant to an ever expanding and more inclusive clientele, citizenry and planet.
How can design education be more relevant?
ELEVATE THE IMPORTANCE OF BUSINESS, MANAGEMENT, CONSTRUCTION, POLITICAL CAPITAL AND SOCIAL AGENCY IN PRACTICE TO ALIGN MORE WITH THE HIGHLY ELEVATED IMPORTANCE OF DESIGN THEORY, AESTHETICS, STYLE AND CONCEPT.
Design education might benefit greatly in an ever-changing world by broadening the definition of what design can be. Expanding the education degree into a series of specialty career path options, of which design studio is but one, of many to an individual interested in the environmental design disciplines might be a beginning. We could begin by erasing the stigma of the position of Project management professional as a secondary choice to project design professional when it is very clear that very few individuals become the latter by title and the management component is as critical as any in the design process.
What are the future skillsets designers need to learn now?
INCREASINGLY, ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN PROFESSIONALS WILL FIND THEMSELVES FOCUSING ON SPECIALIZATION AND INNOVATION IN ARENAS THAT TRADITIONALLY AFFECTED DESIGN INTENT FROM BEYOND, BUT INCREASINGLY DEMAND THAT THE DESIGNER BE SKILLFUL AND KNOWLEDGEABLE OF THEIR IMPACT AS PART OF OUR TRAINING AND PRACTICE.
Along with the standard, consistent and very appropriate traditional studies of history, theory, technical and practical analysis, future skillsets will have to focus more on the following:
Capital + Resource
Technological innovation + resistance (Mo Tech w/ Lo Tech + No Tech)
What should a design school do to prepare students for transdisciplinary work?
BEGINNING AT FOUNDATION LEVEL AND THEN ALL THROUGHOUT THE ACADEMIC EXPERIENCE, THE CURRICULUM MIGHT PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES THAT ENCOURAGE STUDENTS TO BETTER DEFINE THEIR SPECIFIC INTERESTS IN DESIGN AND TO EXPLORE INNOVATIVE WAYS TO APPROACH THEIR CHOSEN DIRECTION.
The school curriculums might foster more cross pollination of activities, events and courses both within the department, with other colleges on campus or with other, remote campuses, even perhaps in different parts of the world to.
– Providing for a more intense study in elective options at third and fourth level to advance knowledge of other disciplines.
– Adding options for double, even a triple major and/or minor perhaps adding another year or two of study for those who choose such.
What should a design school do to forward equity and inclusion?
EQUITY AND INCLUSION BEGINS WITH LEADERSHIP, THAT IS AT THE TOP. AND UNTIL WE CAN CHANGE THE DEMOGRAPHIC AND ETHNICITY IN THAT UPPER LEVEL GROUP, IN OUR FACULTY AND STUDENT BODY, WE WILL CONTINUE TO FIND OURSELVES LIVING THE “ILLUSION” OF INCLUSION.
Seeking individuals who can advise and who might be in a better position to recruit women and minority individuals for top faculty positions might be a good beginning in this current atmosphere where historically recruits are difficult to identify. We have little or no choice but to keep in mind that this profession has been considered the last bastion of white supremacy and privilege. Environmental design schools remain highly segregated at the top levels in both chair and full-time tenured faculty positions (as well as in firm partnership and ownership in practice).
Focused initiatives might include:
– Making diversity the main goal in the department, the firm or the institute
– Assessing one’s current conditions with regards to the lack inclusion and representation
– Defining goals for an equitable atmosphere in the school or office
– Allotting realistic financial and other resources to fully addressing the concern
– Setting a timeline with checkpoints where readjustments might be made to stay on target for anticipated outcomes
– Appealing to a much broader and younger population in recruitment practices by partnering with schools in at risk areas of the city
What other thoughts/ideas would you like to share?
THE LACK OF DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSION BEGINS WITH THE PAST PRACTICES WITHIN OUR SOCIETY TOWARDS WOMEN AND MINORITIES. THEREFORE, ANY UNDERSTANDING OF THE PROBLEM MUST BEGIN WITH AN AWARENESS OF HOW DEEPLY ROOTED THE RESULTS OF SUCH PRACTICES WERE PLANTED AND HOW SOME STILL REMAIN.
A major part of understanding why this history lesson is so important is to begin with the fact that the crisis of inequity begins in ourselves as individuals in this society and not our professionalism. That is to say, our professionalism is a result of our humanity. I suggest the following reading and viewing resources.
White Like Me
WHITNEY M. YOUNG JR
DR. SHARON E. SUTTON