Llisa Demetrios / Eames Collection LLC / Registrar / 03.20.18

Where is design going?

If design is defined as “addressing itself to the need” as Charles Eames said in Design Q&A, then today design is becoming an increasingly important problem solving tool that is applied to more disciplines from business to philanthropy!

How can design education be more relevant?

Starting on a smaller scale project like having students identify some needs in their community or for themselves, and figuring out how to solve those issues allows the connections to be more easily and directly seen of what needs to happen. Then as a class the students can scale up and look deeply at more complicated US and global issues.


When I was growing up, Charles and Ray Eames would talk about “”less teaching, more learning”” and encourage ‘found education.’ They believed in hands-on learning and that you do not delegate understanding. I was encouraged to find what I loved to do because then I would want to learn more – for me, it was making bronze sculpture – which took me three years

What are the future skillsets designers need to learn now?

Technical skills can usually be learned but some qualities the designers must already have innately like being curious about subjects, wanting to learn more, and caring deeply for the world around them. From the beginning, designers need to learn how to accomplish one skill very well before moving onto another so they have a deep understanding because how something is produced will affect its design. That is a lesson learned from Charles & Ray Eames and why they would design not only the prototypes but also the machines that made the prototypes.

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

The future designers will need to be able to communicate their ideas in many different ways. As Charles Eames would say, if all you have in your toolbox is a hammer, then all you will do is solve all your problems with the hammer. The future designers need to have many tools in their toolbox to solve many different kinds of future problems. Ray Eames would talk about something working well was more important than how something looked because if it worked well then it would last.


Today with so much information and so many choices, much work is done instantaneously and invisibly. So make the process visible so a student can understand how something is made. Also sometimes information becomes siloed into different categories so help students see the connections between one subject and another.


A combination of certain amount of basic grounding on a subject like scale models, and offering students opportunities to discover and learn about the latest modeling techniques like 3D printing can help them iterate their ideas. They shouldn’t stop at one solution in 3D printing but explore many possible iterations and then select the best one. Designers need to keep questioning about how to improve upon something – make it stronger, more sustainable, and greener production. Successful designs usually come from an evolution of an idea since innovations often fail.

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

Finding a way that works for all raises the bar for everyone, and usually leads to expected and unexpected advantages. On any project, having the discussion about equity and inclusion as soon as an opportunity arises will help everyone benefit in the long run. Talking about equity and inclusion at the end of a project usually leads to rushed decisions and unsatisfactory solutions.

Llisa Demetrios

Eames Collection LLC


Join the Conversation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *