Kenneth Francis / Surroundings Studio / Partner / 03.20.18

Where is design going?

Deeply collaborative teaming that reaches beyond the traditional boundaries of design for influence, ideas, innovation.

How can design education be more relevant?

Demonstrate it’s wide reaching ability to go beyond just solving problems within the traditional realm of “design.” Fostering creative collisions to occur between design disciplines is more and more the norm, but involving non-traditional disciplines to intermingle and disrupt traditional design processes can yield innovative, unexpected solutions.

What are the future skillsets designers need to learn now?

Technical: It gets broader and broader seemingly, but ultimately designers need to possess a strong ability to represent ideas. If they only use pencil and paper, they must master that to must convey the idea with intention and compel the observer. But as a professional, having students well versed at strong level in all forms of digital software and physical output (3d printing, laser cutting, etc), is always a plus as we need an arsenal of ways to present our work to our clients. Soft: confidence, persuasion, humor, professionalism, and passion are essential to making great work…find every resource available to teach this (speaking coaches, passionate teachers to learn from, etc).

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

Foster it at all levels. Create design problems that might be intended for one discipline, but have them solve them through another discipline. Offer transdisciplinary studios (ULI Gerald Hines competition is great, but it is limited to a more traditional multidisciplinary teams) that students might work with biologists or computer programmers, for example.

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

Make sure the institution has a clear policy of equity and inclusion…one that is highly represented throughout the staff and their ethics. Hire diverse staff to represent the institutions policy and its ethic. Foster spaces of support (counselors/groups/student organizations) for minorities, underprivileged, or disabled students to thrive.

Kenneth Francis

Surroundings Studio


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