( By Artemis Yagou )
Design pedagogy or design education may be defined as the set of practices and systems for the training in the field of design; the ways and methods of teaching for the acquisition of necessary knowledge and skills in order to practice the design profession.
The Bauhaus school (Germany, 1919-1933) is considered to be the main source of the methodological basis for design education and a major influence for numerous design schools worldwide in the second half of the 20th century. Like the contemporaneous VKhUTEMAS (Russia, 1920-1930), it manifested the uneasy balance between an arts and crafts tradition and designing for industry. After the Second World War, the work of the Bauhaus was in a sense continued in other countries where its teachers fled Nazism, especially the U.S., but also at a later stage in the Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm (Germany, 1953-1968). The Ulm school attempted to systematize design methodology and introduced novel subjects such as ergonomics, semiotics and communication theory.
Internationally, there is nowadays a variety of design schools, public and private, whose character and curricula reflect the complex origins and nature of the design domain. Peripheral countries have been heavily influenced by developments in major design centres, in particular England, France, Germany and the U.S. and, depending on local conditions, they have been contributing their own variations of design education, which remain however largely unrecorded. Numerous schools all over the world follow an “art and design” pedagogy, whereas others are positioned within the engineering spectrum. The increasing diversification of the design domain and the introduction of specializations related to new technologies have introduced further complexity into the design education landscape.
The industrial production perspective, with its emphasis on materiality, has gradually developed into a wider, interdisciplinary understanding of design encompassing the creation of interfaces, websites, political campaigns, corporate design strategies and organizations. These and related areas are increasingly worth attending but have been neglected by design education so far. The emphasis on material product as an end per se is now being replaced by an interest in the processes of production, consumption and use. The apprenticeship curricula relying solely on practice are giving way to new academic programmes incorporating systematic research and intellectual inquiry. The emergence and continuous development of postgraduate degrees and in particular of doctoral programmes in design is one of the outcomes of this paradigm shift. Design pedagogy, having operated in the past in the shadow of art or engineering education, is gradually gaining autonomy as the field of design is growing and eventually diversifying itself into various subfields and different academic levels. Having started as craft-based training with rather narrow vocational aims, design education is developing into an interdisciplinary academic field emphasizing research and preparing designers for a knowledge economy.
This article is written by Artemis Yagou for Designophy in 2007.