When people ask me what I do for a living, I say, “I’m a graphic designer.” But after a moment, I add, “I also teach design.” For me, these roles are symbiotic, forming the classic model of a designer/educator. My design practice forces me to stay current in the field and enables my work and ideas to be relevant to students. In turn, the processes and explorations of my students allow and encourage me to reflect on the meaning and purpose of design and to develop of a more self-aware, critical design practice of my own.
When people ask me what I do for a living, I say: “I’m a professor—I teach design.” Unlike Annabelle, I rarely mention that I’m also a working designer. Although I still love to make things, I find that I’m increasingly interested in design research—analyzing the processes and practices of design, and especially, the strange processes and practices that we call “design education.” As an educator, this research informs the key design challenge: creating the quarter-long, year-long and degree-long sequences that shape the designers of the future.
In this issue of ARCADE, we explore a range of patterns, models and methodologies that exist in design education. The field of design is changing rapidly in fascinating ways. While in the past, design may have focused most on issues of form or aesthetics, increasingly the profession has grown to encompass social, cultural, technological and economic contexts, as well as new tools and technologies.
The expanded scope, scale and complexity of current design problems and their impacts on design education are discussed in “What We Don’t Teach—but Should.” This theme is also addressed in Magnus Feil’s essay on the importance of design foundations, “Push Pull Twist.”
Design awareness and design education have both expanded over the last decade, reaching past traditional boundaries, and in this realm, Brian Boram explores the emergence of design thinking in K-12 education. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Amy Gustincic writes about her experience in the Design MBA program at the California College of the Arts.
On the lighter side, the communication design firm studiovertex humorously depicts the tendency for design students to “Polish the Turd.” Also, the article “How to Survive Critique” provides candid advice (and amusement) for both students and critics.
Our favorite part of the issue comes directly from ARCADE readers. We are delighted to publish the insightful, funny and frank results of ARCADE’s first ever Design Education Survey in “If I Knew Then What I Know Now.” The prize for best entry goes to Owen Irianto, for his wry, self-deprecating essay, “Perverse Modernist.” Thanks to all the wonderful ARCADE readers who participated by reflecting on their recent (and not-so-recent!) design educations.