As part of the ReDesign.School initiative led by The Design School at Arizona State University, FO's Bryan Maddock was interviewed regarding the future of design education. During this process that finished in August 2018, Arizona State University held roundtables, conducted surveys, collected writing, and listened to students and professionals around the world in order to better understand the challenges around creating a design school that is 'relevant, equitable, and collaborative.'
In 2018, FO Director Bryan Maddock was invited to take part in an interview around rethinking design education through Arizona State University's ReDesign.School program.
Design is beginning to see the potential in becoming a proactive science. Where once the design professions found solace in their internal struggles to perfect an object, experience, or space, these professions are now finding that in order to impact the world they need to share their ideas more freely to a larger audience. With our social networks expanding among our local communities and across the world, new audiences are finding designers and interacting with their ideas. Here, design has the ability to lead an open and public conversation about the future. Design is no longer a secret that remains in our universities, but can be a renewed and visionary dialogue with the world around us.
Design education needs more exposure to the public in general. While everyone appreciates and understands that ‘things are designed,’ design education should be introduced at an earlier level of core education and should not be reserved as an elective or discipline that one finds in college. Design education is most useful as a skillset that heightens our awareness of the world and is therefore critical to any profession irregardless of a relation to ‘design.’ For those of us within the design professions already, we need to make an effort to have open discussions with the larger world earlier and more often.
I’m increasingly interested in developing skills as a process of augmenting individual awareness, or more specifically, teaching skills as a way to awaken talents that could not find expression before. Though it’s no doubt necessary to develop a vocabulary around essential industry tools, the more interesting breakthroughs come in the form of adapting tools to supplement the way each distinctive student perceives the world around them. By interrogating the use of industry standards, students can directly benefit from a non-empirical understanding of tools that may lead to critical breakthroughs.
Transdisciplinary education should not be forced, but should be a natural extension of topics raised throughout the design process. These relationships should be organic, meaning that the design culture needs to foster interaction throughout the school that is not simply assignment based. The authenticity of collaboration must be desirable and this begins by fostering trust and respect for each unique discipline. There are general design projects that all disciplines can collaborate on, but the ideal scenario is one where each collaborator specifically sees value in one another.
This begins through sensitivity outside the school, but the school itself must excel as a proactive environment that is naturally safe and inclusive for all people and all ideas. The faculty must share in this understanding at a personal level, but must also practice impartiality in the studio when discussing ideas. The school must be a safe place for exploration.