Learn more than design
“Learn more than design” by Armando Vilas-Boas
At LSDM we strive to educate our students on a variety of aspects we find pertinent to a well-grounded design education, and so we teach an encompassing range of subjects in order to achieve that end. However, we are aware that design at large has fallen so strongly on the public realm and imagination that contemporary higher education schools need to go farther than that.
Nowadays everyone with an Internet connection can come up with design “creations” like a poster, a cupboard, or a digital interface. Both our design courses—BA and MA—split our broadband approach to design into three branches: visual design, interaction design, and product design. Visual design “creation” has been made available to the average citizen in recent years by the wealth of applications and online resources available. And that is also a bit true as to interaction design, namely by the availability of applications that streamline the instant creation of finished products right from an ever-growing variety of templates. Similar conditions somehow apply to product design, although this is perhaps the field where uneducated production is made harder due to the creative process itself. Technical knowledge plays a big role in this, because whereas everyone seems to feel endowed with visual taste and discernment, he or she hardly feels competent to understand and have a sufficient knowledge about materials and production processes—the Do-It-Yourself approach has been nevertheless a long-lasting trend.
But it is not just from a technical knowledge that a true designer is made of. Other sets of knowledge need to be acquired, not only because designers as human beings need to know about much more than design but also because as professionals they must master the ins-and-outs of the areas on which they operate.
From signage to editorial designers, from automotive designers to those who work in kitchen appliances, they need to hold and foster a specific body of knowledge on the history and the trends of the industry they are working for. That is of an increasingly paramount relevance, but higher education schools abound which seem not to consider this aspect on their activity by not recognising how crucial this can be to the training and future activity of their students. Schools must encourage their students to acquire and grow their knowledge on specific areas within their range of interests, so that they can not only become flexible professionals but above all so that they can realise that being aware of all the specific circumstances that surround a client’s brief is already going halfway to getting the job done.
Armando Vilas-Boas – MA Design Course Leader
London School of Design and Marketing