CROSSING OVER, INTO AND BACK: DESIGN DISCIPLINES AND IDENTITIES
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: Fairburn, Sue; Heeley, Rachel; Pengelly, Jon
Institution: Gray's Schhol of Art, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen
Section: Building Capacity
Increasingly design education is taking place within a Krauss-ion ‘expanded field’ of cross
disciplinary practice. This explorative nature of design, when set against notions of traditional
disciplines, will ask graduates to participate with certainty and confidence in this ‘expanded field’. We
argue that developing disciplinary identity, when reinforced by actively working across disciplines,
demonstrates the value of creative solutions arising from a collaborative project space.
This paper outlines a strategy to engage students in negotiating this expanded design identity through
wide ranging partnerships, which purposefully inform the collaborative, and cross-disciplinary nature
of this approach. Key to each project is the collaborative interaction between external partners and
mixed design groups from Fashion & Textiles, 3D Design and Communication Design.
The overview and analysis of this longitudinal cross-disciplinary initiative provides insights that
support a clear and positive impact on student’s engagement with interdisciplinary experience and
onward professional attributes (transferable skills). Findings are informed by student questionnaires,
stakeholder feedback, staff interviews, and small group discussions. This paper shares perspectives on
cross-disciplinary working strategies in design education and notions of design identity at a time when
disciplinary identity is blurring for a future generation of design practitioners.