Reaching Across Cultures: International Design Initiatives at The University of the Arts
DesignPhiladelphia 2013
ThursdayOctober 17
6:00PM to 8:00PM
Terra Hall, University of the Arts
211 South Broad Street

With the increasing complexity of social, technological, and ecological challenges, design practice has subsequently expanded its focus to become a significant agent of social transformation and innovation. Designers have at their disposal a number of tools and methods which give them a unique ability to partner with communities, organizations, and businesses to help initiate meaningful change. But how do these design tools and methods translate across cultural, linguistic, and geographical lines? And how do the underlying assumptions and values embedded within these practices sit within other cultural contexts? How do designers most appropriately enter into these cultures? Reflecting on these questions, students and faculty from the undergraduate and graduate Industrial Design programs at The University of the Arts will discuss two recent design collaborations in Kenya and Beirut, Lebanon that explore the challenges inherent for designers working in global contexts.

In this DesignPhiladelphia blog feature, Prof. Jeremy Beaudry explains further the motivations and objectives for the event:

Reaching Across Cultures: International Design Initiatives at The University of the Arts
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This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013 at 3:55 pm by azahn123.
Design Professionals of the Post-Professional Era

Fuajia Amin, a first year student in the MiD program, reflects on her understanding of the role of the designer.This post was originally posted on Fuajia’s blog on October 3, 2013.

I remember one of my first industrial design projects; I was a sophomore at Virginia Tech and this was the point in the program where students were taught the design process. I was in the process of learning how to research, iterate, sketch, create prototypes, do 3d models and render them. When I completed this project, I felt so proud of myself; I had created something on my own from the beginning to the end and I actually liked the end result. Today, design seems to be taking a direction that is allowing more and more people to experience something similar to this feeling of accomplishment that one feels after creating.

“Yet, to my mind, the most significant boundary currently not only being crossed but being dismantled is the boundary between professional and amateur, or more pertinently, between designer and user.” (Atkinson, 30). This statement raised some questions and thoughts in my mind. Though I see myself as a professional, I wondered when I stopped viewing myself as an amateur. Was it supposed to be after I got my undergraduate diploma? Whenever it was, the issue that arises from these boundaries being crossed or dismantled is the negative way in which some people, especially professionals, view the situation. Many feel as if the role of the professional will be devalued, but I do not fully agree with that argument. Having access to design tools does not make someone a designer. Even if everyone had access to a 3d printer, many will still make rubbish until someone teaches them the skill or until they encounter an easily identifiable need. Having this access also does not devalue those who went to school for design, instead I believe it leads to more opportunities for collaboration between professionals and amateurs.

I believe this is where one can truly see the difference between professionals and amateurs; designers have a better understanding of all the different aspects that go into a design while amateurs tend to see only the immediate need or want. It is important to note that designers are the ones responsible for making design tools more accessible to the masses or for making design more self driven through the DIY approach and other methods. Designers are helping non-designers to feel less dependent and able to help themselves. In a way, I see the designer who is able to create this as an “advanced” professional because they are not only designing a product; they are designing experiences that allow people to feel confident and creative. They have a better understand of the individual’s need beyond the product.

Design is more than just a profession to me; it is more about solving problems and delivering services whether they are concrete, abstract or emotional. As designers, we can design tools that allow people to feel similarly to how I felt when I completed one of my first design projects. I believe that if we focus too hard on the profession part of design, we can get a little self focused and possibly have a hard time accepting changes which can push us to grow as professionals. If we see ourselves more like experts at solving problems, creating experiences and providing services, we are able to discover new forms of design and opportunities around us that also lead us to be better well rounded designers.

Source cited: Boundaries? What Boundaries? The Crisis of Design in a Post-Professional Era, P. Atkinson – 8th European Academy of Design Conference – 2009

Design Professionals of the Post-Professional Era
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This entry was posted on Friday, October 25th, 2013 at 5:40 am by azahn123.