Wednesday 16 September 2009

Design industry calls for "More Rounded" design graduates

This is always one issue that concerns me about my students. You get the creative ones who hate computers, then you get the computer geeks who think knowing the software will somehow make up for their lack of creativity.

They are both wrong. Where interactive media is concerned anyway.

Design Week reports that the D&AD Xchange conference for tutors once again highlighted the "mismatch between the kind of graduates design colleges are providing and what consultancy creative heads require".

And what do design consultancies require in new graduates? In their own words "More rounded" graduates. By this they mean more creatively rounded - more understanding of creativity, more understanding of design. Rather than a 2 or 3 year higher education in design some have even suggested a 3 year foundation course in design (allowing design students to experience a wide variety of creative disciplines while developing their creativity) followed by only one year of specialisation.

For some of my students that would mean not getting into the web design and interactive media technology for another 3 years - and meanwhile, they learn to be creative designers in many different media.

Oddly perhaps for art & design (though not so odd perhaps for a wanabee web designer) many of my students seem to resist the creative development required to be an effective designer. Many are focused so much on learning the technology, they are in danger of being technically good, but creatively stunted - able to use technology, but not to solve design problems.

As Neville Brody puts it: "We imagine to be able to do anything, and our software helps us believe we can... But we must move beyond the 'how' to reconsider the 'what' and the 'why'."

This is my greatest fear for some of my design students. They are most interested in learning how to do something, but ignore the important business of learning how to decide what they should produce and why.

Those who persist in making this mistake may well regret it. Leaders from the industry have spoken, they want creative people, not just technitians.

If they resist the creative development aspect of their education, they may get what they want in the short term, but in the process fail to become what their employer wants.

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