Tom Dallessio / Next City / President, CEO + Publisher / 03.20.18
Where is design going?
Design is a way of thinking as well as using creative talents to improve our quality of life. With new technologies available and on the horizon, design will require innate talent as well as a passion for change. While there will always be a place for technicians, I believe people with talent and passion will continue to disrupt the traditional order of the design professions, and only those that apply an interdisciplinary approach will succeed.
How can design education be more relevant?
Design education must move from a pipeline to a platform approach that seeks to build and enhance inner talents while providing the basic and technical skills necessary to be successful in the design professions. Interdisciplinary courses and opportunities through internships, externships and other active mentoring can help design institutions break out of the mold that seems to hamstring the professions and dissuade students from studying design. I also believe that all design students should be required to take policy as well as planning-related courses to help them better understand the practical applications of their ideas. I’ve found that when given the opportunity to engage in critical public discussions, design students produce better products that are grounded in reality and test the limits.
What are the future skillsets designers need to learn now?
Public speaking, audience engagement, presentation and policy analysis.
What should a design school do to prepare students for transdisciplinary work?
Ensure that students have the foundational skills to analyze, write and defend their ideas. Also, provide students with opportunities through studios, internships, lectures and other platforms to better understand how to approach a challenge from multiple viewpoints.
What should a design school do to forward equity and inclusion?
Affirmatively engage people in design opportunities. This should start with children at the youngest of ages, and proceed through the formative years in middle and high school. Especially in communities of color and lower income, there needs to be a determined effort to show by example how designers can improve their communities while making a good living. Bringing in faculty and students that look like their audience as well as come from diverse backgrounds can display a positive image as well as enable young people to envision themselves in this most important role. Organize studios and seminars that tackle problems in neighborhoods that often lack representation or a voice. Showcase students and projects that break the mold of the white male-dominated professions. And, monitor and continue to mentor these students to ensure they succeed.