Stuart Walker / Stuart Walker / Lancaster University / Leeds University (BSc, PhD); Royal College of Art (MDes RCA); Imperial College of Science, Engineering and Medicine (Diploma of Imperial College) / 04.08.18

Where is design going?

Design of goin more digital, more service oriented, and more of the same – more innovation, more new, more irrelevant novelties packaged for sales. More stuff, more seduction, more waste.
I’d prefer to think about “Where design should be going” — it should be dealing with issues that matter, bigger questions about the future of material culture, about reducing consumption while increasing value. It should be dealing the questions of waste, pollution, litter and the damage design has created in the world over the last century.

Today, there is renewed emphasis on traditions, roots, historical precedents, a search for meaningfulness in design, spirituality, authencity, origins. Younger people are becoming tired of meaningless mass-produced culture and are seeking something more. Design needs to respond in a meaningful, thoughful manner — and in doing so it may find something more profound than has been evident in recent decades.

How can design education be more relevant?

It can be more relevant if it start getting more serious and dealing with the serious questions the world is facing. If it start applying creative thinking and creative methods to questions that matter instead of creating endless pointless solutions to trivial questions. It can be more relevant if it learns from history, expands its vista and see what the implications of design beyond the immediate ‘solutions’ to a narrowly framed problem.

See second paragraph above.

What are the future skillsets designers need to learn now?

Critical thinking. Good design fro today and tomorrow will be less about skillsets and more about knowledge, critical thought, questioning conventions and industry norms. Design at university should be much more than job training and skills sets that support a system of economic rationalism built on utilitarian effeciences at the expense of morality, people and planet.

Designers need to know they own history, who they are and where they come from, what came before them. To understand where we might be going — and steer a genuine course — we need to know where we come from.

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

Give students a broad liberal education in the arts and humanities so they understand philosophy, ethics, beauty and aesthetics. Design is transdisciplinary by definition — it brings different areas of expertise together — it is not an analytical discipline so much as a synthetical discipline — it synthesises and seeks a harmonious whole from a variety of disciplinary areas.

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

As much as is possible, try to ensure equity and inclusivity in the teaching and research staff as well as in the student intake. Ensure design is taught from multiple perspective not yet Western modernism, but premodern as well as non-western design.

Stuart Walker

Stuart Walker

Lancaster University

Leeds University (BSc, PhD); Royal College of Art (MDes RCA); Imperial College of Science, Engineering and Medicine (Diploma of Imperial College)

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