If you follow us you probably know that since our beginning in 2009 we have always been very interested in design teaching and theory. One of our favourite sports is to grab a coffee/beer/wine and to spend a couple of hours solving the world, from the design point of view of course, but not only! We have years of experience giving lectures, workshops, classes and writing articles about design, sustainability and more in many different scenarios. We strongly believe that before acting you always have to think, but not too much, balance is the key!
A couple of months ago we had to write a critical article about our vision about the design sector and the design teaching in the following years for an university of Italy, and we want to share with you the parts that were not specifically written for them! Without going as far as the 2049, because things happen every day faster, we want to show you our vision about the close future of our profession. We hope you take it as an open opinion, that it stimulates yours and of course that you share with us what you think about it!
The tradition of design talks mostly about four disciplines: graphic, product, interiors, and fashion, but this division is nowadays obsolete like the offer of grades and postgraduates of most of the design schools abroad demonstrates: food design, retail design, jewelry, art management, packaging design, sustainable design, coolhunting and trends, brand management, and the list can continue forever! Today design is something much more complex and has evolved to many more shapes than the traditional four categories, that of course are still alive.
There are designers who have learnt to program, and their work is something in between product design and robotics, or even art, others work in restaurants collaborating with chefs or with scientists or doctors in a laboratory... Graphic designers use every day more 3D, photography and also programming to develop things that are much more dynamic (apps, videos, animation, etc.) than the graphic design of 30 years ago. It happened the same with fashion, new textiles and technologies are making possible the development of wearables, smart clothes that have many more functionalities than the traditional ones, and fashion designers have a lot to say there.
The integration of technology in almost every aspect of our lives is one of the main trends that any design learning program should include, but sustainability and social responsibility are probably even more important. They are actually having an enormous influence in consumer behaviour, and this situation will grow. This is said in the most renowned trend/design reports like Nelly Rodi or David Carsson report and you can see the influence even in sectors as automotive, fashion or packaging. It's a big change, and designers -in collaboration with environmentalists, engineers, etc.- are the ones who can apply these criteria in a more natural and integrated way.
The third tool that we think every designer should have nowadays besides the traditional design skills is business. There are lots of designers/makers selling directly their creations in collaboration of artisans or little suppliers, something that has traditionally happened in fashion but maybe not as much in product or in graphic design. This makes more necessary to have a business vision that it's also helpful in case you are part of a bigger organisation. Design is now inside the management boards of the most innovative companies in the world -the typical example is Apple, but even companies that offer services are using design and designers as a decision tool-, and has become something strategic and never more something only just aesthetic or superficial, that in our opinion it never was!
In our opinion, all of these facts are the ultimate demonstration that to design has never been to master a series of tools like non-designers often think. Design is a problem solving methodology, and as it happened before the best designers will always be the ones that have the criteria and the vision to offer the best answers for what the users, the consumers and the clients need, despite the changes that the profession and the world has suffered and will suffer even more in the next years!