Archive for the ‘London’ Category

The Studio Unbound: Social Networking in Design Education

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

The Studio Unbound: Social Networking and Design Education from Jonathan Baldwin on Vimeo.

University of Dundee Master of Design student Lauren Currie, and design writer Kate Andrews explore the power of online social networking, and demonstrate the tools students they use to move ideas forward, form networks with practitioners around the world, and build a reputation before and after graduation.

“For the designer to become a producer, she must have the skills to begin directing content, by critically navigating the social, aesthetic, and technological systems across which communications flow.” (Ellen Lupton, 1998).

In highlighting the creative people all over the world using social networking to their advantage, Lauren discusses the dynamic, conversational value of online networking and shows how ideas of teaching and learning need to move away from the confines of the studio towards other, often ad-hoc and virtual, venues.

Joining from London via video conferencing, Kate Andrews, design writer and networker extraordinaire, shares her own insights into the potential offered by new technology.

Focusing on the new possibilities and opportunities the digital world presents, this talk will demonstrate that the world has changed and is changing, and that design courses must change with it if they are to stay relevant.

New Views discussion

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

It’s an hour or so long but if you really want to listen in on the (at times rambling) final conversation of the Responsive Curricula group at New Views 2 feel free.

Bear in mind some of the trains of thought relate back to two full-on days of discussion so may not make sense. Oh, and because I was holding the camera, my voice is the loudest…

Apologies for the jumpy video – something wrong with the encoding, not sure what, but the audio’s fine.

(If you were involved in the discussion, or want to add comments, use the (+) button to type your thoughts, bookmark important points or clarify anything that needs it)

Eye Forum: first thoughts

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

I really enjoyed the Eye Forum on Design and Education in London yesterday (22 January), although in the build-up I managed to get worked up about whether I’d be completely inarticulate or not. So I’m mightily relieved it’s over, even though I wish we could have gone on for longer. I think most of what I said made sense, wish I could have been more controversial, and apologise if I sounded like I was shouting all the time – the microphone wasn’t near me so I tried to compensate!

Design and education are two of the worst fields to work in, and to research, because everyone seems to think they know more about them than you do. Thinking about it, I should have gone in to law because even though that’s an area where people think they know better, at least you can jail them when you disagree. I went in to this debate thinking it would be a lot more argumentative than it was, but it turned out to be remarkably consensual. Maybe we should have cracked open the wine before we started instead of at the end…

I was a little disappointed with some of the questions, many of which seemed to regurgitate long-running debates that I thought had been put to bed. This was an opportunity to tackle some important issues about the future of design education, its relationship with industry, the role of the Design Council and Creative & Cultural Skills, the links between research and teaching, and so on.

However, on reflection I suspect that the fact these issues did not come up tells us a lot, especially that most people are simply not aware of them. The more I look in to CCSkills, for example, the less convinced I am that their claim to represent industry should be accepted without question. Their consultations don’t seem to have raised their profile, and their policy pronouncements haven’t filtered through to those they will affect. If I have to explain who they are once more I’ll start charging them.

Similarly, the role of the Design Council needs to be questioned as, indeed, it is being (especially by itself). I’m not sure the Council is doing itself any favours by allying so closely with CCSkills and the Government, and the consequence is that it will be seen as yet another agency that education has to deal with alongside others like the Sector Skills Councils, the QAA and so on. That is in large part a misrepresentation, but it’s a real one. Lots to think about there.

It was good the audience had a high proportion of students in it, although they were reluctant to speak up until the very end when one of them seemed quite angry that we were suggesting the role of design education is not simply to produce designers – that produced the only applause of the evening (from another student at the back), and we should have explored that further if we’d had the time. I guessed the motivation came from the fee-paying nature of education and the idea that paying fees enters you into a contract for a definite ‘thing’, in this case entry to a particular job. I could be misinterpreting that, of course – it may well be such a specific promise was made to that person and I did say that if we claim a design education will make you a designer, and that there’s a design job at the end of it, we’re lying.

Ken Garland got up at the end and asked a question that made me rather angry, especially as it seemed to completely ignore the previous ninety minutes of discussion. Again I could have misinterpreted him, but the way his voice modulated as he said that design education is vocational and this means there are ‘just too many design students’ made me think this was his personal view. Accordingly I took him to task. In fact his question was remarkably similar to the one I asked in my first ever blog post ‘Graphic Design Education is Failing Students’ when I dismissed the idea that the role of design education is a simple one of supply and demand.
My main argument on the night was that restricting design knowledge to a select few was a sure way of ensuring that design becomes a niche activity, opening up a space that will be filled with self-taught designers – exactly the sort of design-poor scenario I think the ‘rationers’ are worried ‘over supply’ of design graduates will create. (There were a few rationers in the audience it turned out who simply didn’t listen to what we were saying, which worried me a bit)

But I simply think the idea of rationing education, no matter what the subject, is stupid, and I’m not afraid to call someone who thinks that ‘stupid’, no matter who they are.
However, we do have a responsibility to ensure that our courses are liberal enough that we aren’t just churning out designers, but graduates. I’m fairly sure (in fact I’m convinced) that this is precisely what is happening – too many design courses turning out ‘graphic designers’ no one wants rather than ‘designers’ we all need. So maybe Ken and others are right to be concerned, but wrong to prescribe rationing as a way of improving the situation. Very wrong.

We could have done with another hour, but as one of the questions we missed was along the lines of ‘is design art?’ (oh good grief, no, it isn’t, why are we talking about this again?) and another on graphic authorship (or ‘design wank’ as I like to call it), and as it was getting rather hot, we concluded at just the right time.

So talking of conclusions, what can we deduce from the evening?

  • There is a large amount of consensus that the purpose of higher education is to educate, not to train, and that the needs of society and students are not necessarily those of employers who are increasingly demanding a say in what we do without making any sort of offer in return (e.g. funding). To cow tow to industry’s ‘needs’ rather than society’s is idiotic and short sighted.
  • There is no such thing as ‘the industry’ with one collective voice, so to align what we do to ‘industry’ is impossible.
  • Design is an intellectual activity and we need to raise our game in the quality of student we recruit, and industry needs to stop talking about design in ways that makes it seem to be simply a visual and decorative exercise.
  • There is little awareness of what it is academics do all day, or the mess of policy and pressure being placed on us.
  • People seem to think the role of universities is to teach current skills instead of developing new ones, and developing new technologies and knowledge.
  • And there is a need to get across how difficult it is to teach everything under the sun in three short years. Partly this is down to us communicating what we do a lot better, but it is also incumbent on the Design Council to start singing our praises a lot more instead of insinuating we’re crap (which is the impression we get, even if it’s not intended), and on industry to engage more with us (usually we’re told we have to engage more with industry, but the fact is we do, and we try, and we find it difficult to break in).

I could go on, so I will! I’ll write posts on individual questions and link to them here later.

Thanks to LCC for hosting the forum, to my fellow panellists for a stimulating discussion, my various friends and former students for putting me up on my trip, the audience, the questioners, and of course Eye for asking me.

As well as my thoughts here you can read (or add) your thoughts to the forum comments thread over on Eye’s blog.

Eye Forum on Design and Education

Friday, December 28th, 2007

I will be one of the panellists at the third Eye Forum being held at London College of Communication on 22 January.

If you’ve got a question on the topic you can email it to the magazine or contribute from the floor on the night.

If you’re coming along, let me know!

Eye Forum no. 3: ‘Design and education’

The third Eye Forum promises to be the best yet, so we hope you can come. The Forum takes place at the London College of Communication (LCC) on Tuesday 22 January at 6.30pm. Please come along to debate some of the ‘burning issues’ in design education, together with broader issues such as recruitment, lifelong learning, design literacy and the role of self-taught designers. As before, after the main event in the lecture theatre, there will be drinks, canapés and plenty of time to network and socialise.

There’s plenty to talk about, so we are again inviting delegates to submit questions – in the manner of the BBC’s long-running TV show Question Time – which can be short or long, plain or nuanced, serious, heartfelt, flippant or funny. And this time, I’d like to encourage delegates to read their questions from the floor. The chair will open up each question to the audience, so that everyone is free to join the debate, and to challenge or develop points made by the panel.

Please get involved.
To submit your question(s), email by 7 January 2007, or add them to this blog.

Here are some of the ‘burning issues’ already suggested for the Forum:
* Standards: is everyone speaking the same language?
* Do educators select students on their mark-making ability – at the expense of communication?
* Do employers regard new talent as a renewable source of cheap labour?
* Is design art? Is it time to separate the two?
* Is it important to have a visually literate nation (in a post-literary world)?

Our distinguished, expert panel will comprise:

  • Jonathan Baldwin (design historian and lecturer, University of Dundee),
  • Jamie Hobson (head of marketing and admissions, London College of Communication).
  • Lesley Morris, (Design Council),
  • Tim Molloy, (head of design, Science Museum)
  • Simon Sankarayya (art director, AllofUs)
  • The chair will be Alan Livingston (principal, Falmouth College of Arts)

Please come along to join us for ‘burning issues’ and warming drinks on a cold night – Tuesday 22 January 2008.

To book your place, email, call 020 8267 4804, or go online Tickets cost £30 (£25 students) including wine and canapés.

Be seeing you

John L. Walters, editor, Eye

The sponsors for this Forum are Represent, the bespoke recruitment agency and Quark.

Subversive Diana Poster

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007
Subversive Diana banner

Spotted at the Diana 10th anniversary gathering, Kensington Palace 31 August 2007

NBC in Kensington Gardens

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007
NBC Woman
NBC woman
NBC woman picking her nose
NBC Woman

I spotted this reporter outside Kensington Palace last week, there to cover the tenth anniversary of the death of Diana Princess of Wales.

She didn’t seem particularly engaged with what was going on and I got the impression she was increasingly frustrated – I glanced at the screen in front of her and it seemed while everyone else was covering the 11am ‘service’ live, she was being bumped down the running order for sports news.

When she did go live I carefully ‘wandered’ in to shot. I hate it when people do that. But at least I can now put ‘appeared on NBC News’ on my CV…