Teaching. Design.

Design : : Teach

With a big, fat, Gill Sans Ultra Bold “x”, I mark my last day of salaried corporate employment at a point where my design career takes a sharp turn.

As I pursue the MFA in Design Development over the next 3 years I will also be teaching part time. On one end, I will be taking a deep dive into the somewhat theoretical assertion that has been at harbor in me, that design theory begets and almost demands a multi-disciplinary approach by either the practitioner or the “village” to fully realize it’s logical potential. This might arguably be the full realization of design theory; a concept of some sophistication and, perhaps, even some controversy.  (Much more on that at some later date). At the other end of the spectrum I am challenged to convey a 30,000-foot overview of the essence of design fundamentals, practice, and history to students with varying levels, perhaps without any real experience or background in what design is.

This much is true: Design is designed into us. I see it as “Divine Inheritance”. And though Stephen Hawking and I may  disagree on where design comes from, it is broadly accepted that design is fundamental to the human condition. John Heskett, in DESIGN A Very Short Introduction, (a text for Design 200) says it succinctly: “Design is one of the basic characteristics of what it is to be human, and an essential determinant of the quality of human life.”

Enter moi. What is design? meets The Matrix. Or, how design is woven inextricably into the story and story into design.

On one hand “teaching” in the formal sense, behind a podium in front of dozens, maybe a hundred is new. Although, I jumped headfirst into the profession immediately after my BSID and never stopped to look back — until now — I’ve been trying to teach clients what design is since I left academia the first time.

Yet, as I prepare for both tasks, it is interesting to ponder how much design after so many years has become intuitive and internalized. I find myself deconstructing what I know as mostly second nature, into the basic components and asking questions like, “Why do I do it this way?” Not only have I been bouncing easily between design for graphics, information, web, interiors, displays, experiences, products, and more, I have been confronted with the real-world challenges of not only creating good design, but making the case to the world that ultimately foots the bill for it — or chooses not to. I know the harsh realities of both. So much to talk about, I think. Stay tuned.

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