PRODUCT DESIGN EDUCATION: A JOURNEY?
DS 83: Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE16), Design Education: Collaboration and Cross-Disciplinarity, Aalborg, Denmark, 8th-9th September 2016
Editor: Erik Bohemia, Ahmed Kovacevic, Lyndon Buck, Christian Tollestrup, Kaare Eriksen, Nis Ovesen
Author: Thomas, Vicki
Institution: The University of Northampton/Vicki Thomas Associates
Section: New Design Paradigms
Product Design education can be focused on training. Providing students with skills to use tools,
computer programs and tried and tested methodologies to solve problems. It can be presented as a
planned and structured process. Design is seen as a problem solving activity rather than a wider
creative endeavour. Such an approach provides clear structure that, students find it hard to challenge.
Universities are not being tested on their ability to train but will be assessed on their teaching.
Teaching seems to be more about a relationship. In the craft world, between apprentice and masterthere
was another stage of a journeyman, the learning on the job. Design students are inspired to learn
by doing and making. Yet, contact time and working together in workshops sessions are being cut
back. The increasing number of students, costs savings and digitally based campuses, are all reducing
the time and space allowed for making, nurturing and maintaining a supportive learning environment
that applicants expect and need. Design Thinking might have its origins in design practice. Its starting
place is about educating non-designers about the design process. In Product Design education we
need to educate designers to think and experience things for themselves. The pressures, both internal
and external, seem to be reducing the quality of independent design thought and creativity. The
'journey’ is important to design education and not a cliché.