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Future Ready: Design education

Education is the passport of the future, tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today -Malcolm X
 

I would like to start by telling one of the finest things my professor said to me once, “To design is to not design or less design”. I feel the same about the future of design education today. “To educate in design is not educate at all”. Let the mind wander in the forest of things and absorb whatever necessary. Let them document what they feel is true and design where it is needed the most. Around 150 years back roughly the concept of academic design education came into existence. The design education was centered on strong design philosophy. The disciples from this institute went on to become ambassadors of respective design ideologies. Designers work started to make difference in the everyday lives of the people.

With changing times the design principles have been adapted to socio-economic and consumer needs. Today modern-day designer’s work is to drive consumerism with toppings of sustainability.

Need for a new school of thought to be future-ready:


The design philosophy centric school of design has played its role. It has managed to democratize design to most parts of the world. Its effect has changed the lives of many people. It has empowered so many consumers to look inwards for problem-solving. Now we have many designers with similar design ideologies around the world.

One of the problems of having a big society of like-minded people is that it becomes a cult. It becomes short-sighted and only self-fulfilling. The tree that doesn’t branch out a new direction has probably less chance of survival. Similarly, the design schools must have a way to look outwards and absorb new vogue.

The next-generation design colleges have to be with open school thought. A design institute where you allow the student to express their thoughts, create their design commandments, practice new process, and dedicate to solve the problem with their approach. Frankly speaking, many design colleges are churning designers to fill up positions in the industry. The design industry is going through hyper changing times, it is acting as the chief driver of the economy and human life practices. We need designers who can contemplate the effects of their design ideas and concepts. We must empower them to influence design.

The role of the designer has to expand from form creators to culture creators. The way design has made technology usable has changed the way people interact, consume, work, create, and shape the community.

Certainly, it has directly or indirectly it has given rise to a new culture. Thus it becomes very important for design school to expand their horizon and cultivate next-generation culture designers.


Being a designer without a title:


The design has become a much specialized and niche field now. We have designers for every different field from Product, Automotive, UX, Design research, etc. The design disciples have become very restrictive and self-protective. Designers aren’t focused to elevate themselves from their position. We are finding comfort in our titles. It has become far easier for human resources and management to label as just a designer. We are being fed with a myopic vision of organizational position and team commander. Our job is to constantly extend the vision to every part of the organization and community we serve. Why automotive designer is expected to draw only cars? Why can’t he think about car user experience? Why can’t he ideate about brand identity and strategy? Just because he doesn’t have a relevant degree or he intrudes the space of other designers. Designs school must stop labeling designers with the course name. Sincerely we are a student of design for our mortal life. Our titles make everybody expect us to do only certain things. In a way, it is harmful for the organization we work and to ourselves.

Design school should be focused on training young students to be problem solvers and idea creators. The title should be earned as designers gain experience and practical exposure to various design domains.

The industry just needs to know being a designer equips him or her to solve a multitude of design problems. So titles are just fancy names if they don’t serve the purpose.


Accessible to Everyone and delivering only the best:


In the digital age, online education is a game-changer. I feel making design education accessible through online mediums means people learn, think, and perhaps apply design practices. Making people design literate is one of the best ways to make design gain importance. Design schools must focus on gathering the best resources available online platforms rather focused on hiring in house faculty. It is in the best interest of students to be in schools where you have a course lecture only from the best in the industry. It will take away mediocrity that exists in the design faculty community. Also, students can interact with various designers with different thought processes. It also supports the open school ideology expressed earlier in this article. One of the challenges that design aspirants face today is affordable and quality accessibility to design education. The combination of both is recipe for disaster for any nation. Thus design schools should look for different revenue models to make themselves more affordable and accessible.

As design education becomes expensive, weaker sections of the society can’t afford it and design fails to reach who needs it most.

Not faculty but cultivator:


The role of faculty is not only to deliver a lecture on various subjects but also to be receptive to new ideas. That is why I suggest design faculty have to be design practitioners only. Design colleges should become active design labs where design faculty practice and teach design. Today design faculties are burdened with assessments and assignments. The role of the cultivator is difficult, design faculties can’t kill the designer in them. As designers, faculty will show more empathy and ensure students are nurtured well. This apprenticeship style learning method will bring more maturity and design sensibility in design students. Well, a future-ready design school doesn’t mean it has embraced every other technology that is available in the market.

We have to ensure that young designers are equipped to sense future trends and make a social impact.

Hopefully, the design schools of tomorrow will be more future-focused rather than immediate industry needs. We need dreamers who say Rebel in us will never die.


This article has been the result of my countless discussion on a coffee break with Mr. Pravin Gaikwad, Head of the studio, Hyundai Advance Design, India. I thank him for his valuable inputs and opinions.


 

Automotive Designer & Tech Enthusiast


 
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5 Comments


Thomas Dal
Thomas Dal
Aug 29, 2022

Hello Ajay, I Believe it is time for you to visit us in Strate School of Design Bangalore .... You seem to be ready to appreciate what we are doing here.

Hope to see you soon.

Thomas

9740022559


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Design Odyssey
Design Odyssey
Aug 29, 2022
Replying to

Dear Thomas, thanks for invitation, We are aware STRATE india is one of the leading schools in India that has been constantly helping build better design education environment for students . We appreciate your contribution . -Pravin

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Design Odyssey
Design Odyssey
Oct 04, 2020

@chacko ..It’s been ever engaging and ever evolving topic of our discussions . We have to keep Bringing clarity to aspiring students and educators that times have changed. No need to teach or learn design by standard methods . We have to make room for New generation of designers with new ideas to flourish under big design movement.that is ‘make it better’.

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chacko abraham
chacko abraham
Oct 04, 2020

Solid article Ajay.

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Saurav Pandey
Saurav Pandey
Oct 04, 2020

A very well-written article 👏, I hope it reaches the right people in India's current and upcoming educational institutes so that they understand and try to make changes for future students.

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