ReDesign.School Roundtable: Visual Communication Design / In partnership with AIGA Arizona / 06.14.18

The third of our local ReDesign.School roundtable discussions focused on visual communication design. We gathered in Downtown Phoenix on April 30, 2018 to discuss the future of design and design education as it relates specifically to visual communication design. We were joined by leadership of AIGA Arizona. What follows is an overview of the discussion. Special thank you to True North Studio for hosting us at their beautiful work space at MonOrchid.


Christina Carrasquilla – Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU
Lecturer, Graphic Information Technology

Wil Heywood – The Design School at ASU
Associate Clinical Professor, Visual Communication Design

Sarah Hough – Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at ASU
Director of Communications and Strategy

Kyle Larkin – Extra Small Design

Mathew Lien – Arizona Public Service
Creative Leader

Kathy Morgan – Morgan and Company
President/Creative Director

Mookesh Patel – ISDI – Indian School of Design & Innovation, Parsons Mumbai


Jessica Scott – EdPlus at ASU
Graphic Designer

After introductions, a warm-up exercise kicked off the evening, with participants writing down their answers to the question, “Where is design going?” 

Where is design going?

Post-it note exercise – Full Group


Sarah Hough

  • Usability Focused
  • Cross-media
  • Social impact

Christina Carrasquilla

  • Integrated
  • Collaborative
  • Niche (specialized)

Jessica Scott

  • Going local/community-based
  • Global/more connected
  • Social impact

Mookesh Patel

  • Empathy
  • Global collaboration
  • Innovation

Wil Heywood

  • Wicked problem innovation
  • Education
  • Voice of beauty

Kyle Larkin

  • Collaboration with non-design disciplines
  • Focus on design ethics
  • Technology

Kathy Morgan

  • Business recognition
  • Marketing perspective
  • More democratic “making”
  • Desire for face to face
  • Keep the school community; feel the community

Matthew Lien

  • Social unity

Overall impressions from the sticky note exercise:

  • Mookesh Patel: “Social unity: this is where the opportunities lie for innovations in design.
  • Christina Carrasquilla: “This is all big picture.”
  • Mathew Lien: There are certain topics that shouldn’t be monetized and the designer is struggling between designing for profit and designing for human good.


Attendees were then led into smaller group conversations to discuss the next three questions.


What are the skillsets of the future we should be teaching now?

Small Group Discussion


Christina Carrasquilla, Kyle Larkin, Mathew Lien and Kathy Morgan

  • Business of design- accounting
  • User experience, storytelling, collaborating
  • ADULTING 101
  • Pitching- presenting their work, why i did this, why it’s so great
  • Team dynamics
  • Project management

Wil Heywood, Sarah Hough, Mookesh Patel and Jessica Scott

  • Teaching and learning simultaneously
  • Management- business acumen
  • Technological foundations- coding
  • One class in the beginning- self-study
  • Using design history

How can design education be more relevant?

Small Group Discussion


Christina Carrasquilla, Kathy Morgan, Mookesh Patel and Jessica Scott

  • Fitting in with the world today
  • Knowing what your impact is or can be
  • Being diverse and inclusive
  • Being fearless and limitless; it’s okay to fail
  • Critical problem solving- you don’t always need to be the best, but you must know how to present your process
  • Running into red tape
  • Giving every project context- why are you learning this?

Wil Heywood, Sarah Hough, Kyle Larkin and Mathew Lien

  • Defining problems- critical thinking
  • Breaking down boundaries- interdisciplinary collaboration; how do you modify the structure as it currently exists
  • What schools are relevant and why? These schools come to mind for the output- the quality of work

General Discussion

  • Sarah Hough: “Whether being community involvement; technology; interdisciplinary; it should be carried throughout the entire academic program- not just in specific classes.”
  • Kyle Larkin: “Design ethics- understanding the impact of what you are working on, especially when it comes to technology.”
  • Kathy Morgan: “At this point in my career, I’m wondering how I’m relevant. Understanding that having graphic design skillsets are much more than just the design skills.”
  • Jessica Scott: “Being relevant means offering paths to learning outside of just the traditional undergraduate/graduate experience.”


Design your ideal transdisciplinary studio/class/learning exercise. What would that look like?

Small Group Discussion


Sarah Hough, Kyle Larkin, Kathy Morgan and Jessica Scott

  • Collaborative environment with multiple disciplines (similar to InnovationSpace), take a product from inception to completion, have a mentor component (paid external professional to mentor the students throughout their course)
  • Learning how to budget
  • Learning how to brand

Christina Carrasquilla, Wil Heywood, Mathew Lien and Mookesh Patel

  • Class on play- very little structure- go out in small teams, observe, find problems then solve the problem, structures not teacher-led
  • Give students a budget to be accountable for, see what they do with it


How do we promote and further equity and inclusion in our school and beyond?

Full Group Discussion

  • Wil Heywood: “We need to make it part of The Design School’s mission to do deeper engagement with the community, especially more diverse local communities.”
  • Kathy Morgan: “Cultural knowledge opportunities- as a designer, what colors are offensive to some cultures, what messages don’t work for some cultures.”
  • Mookesh Patel: “Equity and inclusion policies need to be aggressive, but not necessarily vocalized externally. It needs to be action-oriented.”
  • Sarah Hough: “Growing up as first generation students- you aren’t able to ‘think big’ because you don’t have an example as close to you.”
  • Kyle Larkin: “Our program [VCD at ASU] has done really well in teaching students how to design experiences, however, most don’t know that the process and context is what is most important.”
  • Christina Carrasquilla: “AIGA student group at Polytechnic campus- diversity and inclusion is included in their constitution.”
  • Kyle Larkin: “Having the conversation [regarding equity and inclusion] is uncomfortable, but must be had and had often.”

General feedback:

  • Kyle Larkin: “Since the merger of the schools, there has been an emphasis on making the disciplines equal, and that is not a great idea. All the disciplines operate differently- those differences should be embraced.”

ReDesign.School Roundtable: Visual Communication Design

In partnership with AIGA Arizona

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