Just Ask…Design!

Just Ask…Design!

“Just Ask…Design!” by Armando Vilas-Boas

In the professional world of design, the ability to raise questions is paramount. Designers often respond without asking first, they present “solutions” to all problems without properly analysing them. They are not used to ask but are rather trained to give a quick and accurate answer.

In design, you can’t get it right without making a mistake first. And people are really afraid of making mistakes. School is the ideal place for making mistakes if we look at it as a preparation for the active life rather than a “real-life” simulation. But most students don’t want to make mistakes.

Therefore, design students — future professionals — do not ask questions, especially since they were not used to it until they got to the university. And, often, have never confronted ideas in a systemized and mediated way.

It’s paradigmatic to say that sometimes the students that are “exterior” to design (without training in the area) are the ones who question the most. This occurs at a master’s level because people have already taken a basic university education (whatever the area).

That disinterest is an enemy of curiosity, and most “regular” students are not as interested as they should, at least not enough to raise relevant issues. Despite their lack of specific training, but having acquired maturity in other areas, these “external” students are often more captivating, because of the way they approach questions with unexpected points of view, without vices. There is sometimes a similar effect with students living outside the big cities: they are often the most “combative”, the ones who best seize the opportunities, and those who are most predisposed to absorb knowledge and experience.

Perhaps this is based on an old question: the difficulty of accessing information and opportunities, awakens the mind, while the ease of accessing it makes you sleepy. Or, as T.S. Eliot wrote in 1934: Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”. It does not seem to matter where it comes from, but rather where you want to get to.

Armando Vilas-Boas – MA Design Course Leader

London School of Design and Marketing

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