Computer ArtsInterview

Design education: a view from the inside

Rebecca Wright, a graphic design programme director at the world-renowned Central Saint Martins, part of the University of the Arts London, shares her thoughts on the state of design education

Is design education close enough to a ‘real world’ experience?
Design schools need to find a balance between delivering ambitious and exploratory curricula and preparing students for professional practice. These are not mutually exclusive of course, but it’s important to us that students at CSM understand that we are not training them for a job – we’re educating them in design.

What does a formal design education provide that can’t be learnt elsewhere?
Design school provides a space to learn about risk and failure, to make and break things, to think feely, to learn craft. It offers unique opportunities to learn alongside others with different views and to be part of a community that continues into professional life.

Do you think the current industry is well equipped to deal with new graudates?
A proper debate about the role of placements and internships is needed – both industry and education share a responsibility in supporting graduates entering professional practice. The current economic climate is helping to bring this issue to the fore.

How has design education adapted to fit the changing face of the industry?
Our responsibility as design educators is not to produce graduates that ‘fit’, but to develop agile designers who are able to navigate a dynamic industry and can contribute to its future.

Which is more important to prospective professionals: hard or soft design skills?
A good design course teaches both, in relation to one another. However, the feedback we get from industry is that it’s the skills in thinking, research and critical scrutiny that have greatest value – software skills can be learnt on a job.
 

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