Beyond Discipline: Positioning Design Practice and Education for the Twenty-first Century

Furniss, Lara (2020) Beyond Discipline: Positioning Design Practice and Education for the Twenty-first Century. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

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Design practice in the UK has changed dramatically in the past two decades. Boundaries between design disciplines have dissolved and it could be argued that many contemporary design studios now defy classification. Whilst these groundbreaking and successful studios are reconfiguring the design landscape, undergraduate design education is still dominated by a unidisciplinary mindset and structure. This situation is creating a disconnection between design practice and education, and poses critical questions for the immediate future of design learning and teaching in higher education.

This doctorial study explores this disconnection. An initial scoping exercise draws on interviews with leading commentators from the UK design sector, examining the evolution of design practice over the last ten years and possible future directions for undergraduate education. Findings from the exercise indicate that (a) UK policy for creative education has placed undergraduate design courses in potential crisis, (b) current approaches in the university system are outdated, and (c) it is now necessary to re-define the skills and processes that designers will require in the twenty-first century. Moving-on from the scoping work, the study engages with five internationally renowned creative studios that can be characterised as defying classification. These are: Ron Arad Associates; Heatherwick Studio; Jason Bruges Studio; Punchdrunk; and Assemble. In-depth ethnographic studies cross-analyse the creative processes of these studios and the perspectives of their designers on education. Findings identify key components of each studio’s process, the core skills and capabilities that are required by studio members, and innovative organisational structures and uses of studio space. They also explore studio members’ past educational experiences, present involvement in education and reflections on future directions for pedagogy.

This study argues that the evident (and growing) disconnection between practice and education calls for a change to existing pedagogic models. It also proposes alternative approaches, and highlights the need for policymakers, practitioners and educators to work together to better prepare young designers to meet the design challenges of the twenty-first century.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
31 March 2020Completed
Uncontrolled Keywords: design practice; design pedagogy; design policy; design discipline
Subjects: CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-01 - creative arts and design > CAH25-01-01 - creative arts and design (non-specific)
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Birmingham Institute of Creative Arts > School of Visual Communication
Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Lara Furniss
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2021 13:44
Last Modified: 04 Nov 2021 12:16

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