An innovative new programme of study is launched.
13 Jun 2013
From September 2013 the University of Brighton Faculty of Arts will be running Design Futures, a new and innovative design programme of study.
Design Futures is aimed at the design thinkers who will shape society in the coming decades and brings new opportunities for the best design-minds. Students will leave with the kinds of skills which employers want, how to make and design, but how to consider problems systematically, how to communicate ideas and how to work with a team comprising experts and generalists.
Evidence from the cultural industries around Brighton suggests this is exactly what the future will require of designers. Across the industries, adaptive, reflective and responsive employees are being targeted. We’re starting with Design Futures but the university is hoping its new course will be a step towards a new kind of education one that helps our students into a future whose horizons are rapidly changing.
Course tutor Dr Damon Taylor said: “We need to see ourselves as part of a journey a student is on, one that will take them 15 years into the future. Some of the skill sets they are learning today will still be useful in 15 years time, some will be disappearing and some will be obsolete. The problem is that nobody can know which is which. What we can do is teach students to be adaptive, self-critical and enquiring. This is what Design Futures is about."
The Faculty of Arts has a wealth of disciplinary experience, and is a place where writers, historians and theorists work alongside painters, architects and designers. Drawing on this vibrant cultural environment the next step will be a move towards transdisciplinarity as outlined by the course developers at a recent design conference in Brussels Knowing (by) Designing.
Transdisciplinarity evolves a culture in which practitioners are able to draw from the histories that different disciplines offer without finding themselves rooted in any predetermined system of assumptions or roles. This is the way we hope our students will begin to approach design.
To support this kind of thinking, students on the Design Futures programme will gain making and designing skills based on critical thinking. They will also learn to write, appreciating the role that communication plays in design, and the way in which stories can be told to enhance understanding of objects and their use.
These students won’t have separate critical and theoretical modules. Instead their critical reflection will directly inform their project work. For some students the written word could become a principle feature of the course. We imagine a design journalist could emerge from this course just as easily as a design professional in the hard-manufacturing industries.
Others may take their project themes down avenues of digital framework design, or graphics, design for health and wellbeing, or urban design or into the theatre and stage set design.
The course sits alongside a range of high quality, highly reputed design courses at Brighton including the successful MA in Sustainable Design and its undergraduate work across design and craft, textiles and fashion.
Design Futures is for students to join straight from A level who want a different kind of option, one that doesn’t begin with a statement of a discipline or a skill, but one which begins with a set of questions and a set of cooperative, enquiring minds.
Dean of the Faculty of Arts Anne Boddington said: “I hope we have identified a response to Don Norman's claim that design education must change. This means we can take a step forward for design that begins to answer some of the questions we have been talking about for sometime.”
Contemporary designers are increasingly taking on challenges that require new combinations of skills to deal with the complexities of the changing world and Design Futures aims to extend learning through real experiences, live projects and work placements.
Students will have access to extensive specialist facilities, combining conventional production techniques with digital technologies. The programme will take students through practice-led research techniques to develop insightful design projects, taking ownership in shaping and communicating their personal designer profile and portfolio through a choice of specialisms including objects, products, spaces, systems, actions, ideas and narratives.
They will be part of an exciting multidisciplinary community with both undergraduate and postgraduate students having opportunities to contribute to and benefit from our strategic research, including smart materials, sustainable design and design for well-being.
The course is aimed at those who want to make a difference and to think deeply about design, questioning what design is and where it's going in the twenty-first century.
To find out more about the programme and its development see our course pages or contact Dr Jyri Kermik.