Liz Ogbu / Studio O / Founder + Principal / 03.20.18
Where is design going?
Design – like many other industries at this moment – is at a crossroads. It could exist as a self referential service industry. Or it could become a catalytic agent that participates in addressing some of the pressing issues of our time like racial and social injustice.
How can design education be more relevant?
The academic setting is where students often get their grounding in the language of design. An understanding of the potential agency of design and the development of a personal ethic structure that supports the work can first be nurtured in that environment. For communities, design education should be framed as providing access to power, capacity building, respect, and allyship (as opposed to a live laboratory for experimentation).
What are the future skillsets designers need to learn now?
Empathy/human-centeredness, negotiation, allyship, understanding of financial and political systems, systems thinking, personal development
What should a design school do to prepare students for transdisciplinary work?
Offer students a way to work that way as part of their coursework. In particular, break down the silos between studio and other courses.
What should a design school do to forward equity and inclusion?
If a school is serious about equity and inclusion, then it needs to be more than just lip service; it has to permeate deeply into the fabric of the school. Design schools should figure out what their individual positioning is towards those issues, then develop aligned administrative policies (from hiring to admissions) and a curricular mandate. Offer training opportunities for staff and faculty so that they can understand, engage, and advance the principles. Create opportunities where the entire school population can have an ongoing critical conversation about the issues, both within and outside of the school. And identify an outside evaluator who can come and assess the school’s progress at regular interviews.