Mari Hulick / San Francisco State University / Director, School of Design / 03.20.18
Where is design going?
First, it’s becoming even more collaborative and interdisciplinary. Design leaders are dealing with increasingly complex issues and wicked problems. These problems require interdisciplinary teams of thoughtful designers. This requires adept Design Thinking combined with Design Making. Makers need to be Thinkers. And, the Thinkers must be Makers in order to address today’s complex design problems. Finally, design must be inclusive to address these problems successfully. We need to reach out to communities that have been excluded in the past. This will transform design and design education in the most exciting ways.
How can design education be more relevant?
By bringing project-based problem solving activities to K—12 education. If we include traditional skills-based training (basic software; understanding elements, principles, and hierarchy; basic prototyping and model making; presentation) with problem solving exercises, students of all levels will see how design can transform lives.
What are the future skillsets designers need to learn now?
Technical skills: Industry standard software and basic understanding of both Mac and PC os (currently the Adobe Creative Cloud, SolidWorks for product design, Alias for transportation, etc); quick sketch and iterative rendering skills; prototyping and simple model building; basic design research such as observation, simple interviewing, market comparisons, etc. Soft skills: work ethic, critical thinking, resilience, flexibility, responsibility.
What should a design school do to prepare students for transdisciplinary work?
Build projects and opportunities for interdisciplinary teams. Example: Create a plan for an underserved community that includes current residents in the redesign. To do this, you will need communication designers, writers, architects, urban planners, product designers and could even include clothing designers as the project evolves. I was involved in such a project where we worked with students from middle- and high-schools as well as college students. As we developed out the plan, we included basic training in design elements and principles, basic layout, iterative rendering and basic model building.
What should a design school do to forward equity and inclusion?
Actively reach out to underserved communities. Find sources for scholarships for underserved students. Work with community groups to bring young students into the design process. Collaborate between colleges and K—12 schools. Create opportunities for service learning by building projects that bring design students into the community.