Current Design Topics

11 Aug 2009 - 8:27am
4 years ago
11 replies
5249 reads
Jack L. Moffett
2005

I'm preparing my design seminar for the Fall semester, which is a
masters-level course. The last time I taught this specific course was
2005. I assigned readings on the following subjects:

Design Certification
Offshore Outsourcing
Design & Business
Formal Education vs. Self-taught
Design Ethics
Design Leadership
Making a Business Case for Design
Experience Design

Many of these are still relevant four years later, but I want to keep
the discussions contemporary. If you were picking current topics for
students to read, write about, and discuss, what would they be? What
are the big issues? Please keep in mind that this is not an
Interaction Design class—it covers the entire design landscape. I'm
looking forward to your suggestions.

Thanks,
Jack

Jack L. Moffett
Senior Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.459.0310 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

Some men see things as they are and say "why?"
I dream of things that never were and say "why not?"

- George Bernard
Shaw

Comments

11 Aug 2009 - 9:31am
Phillip Hunter
2006

Hey Jack,

Quick thoughts to consider are Sustainable design and Social and
organizational change relating to design. Both could conceivably be
under other topics, but might merit individual focus.

Phillip

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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11 Aug 2009 - 11:01am
Dave Malouf
2005

What Phillip said

Considerations in aesthetics beyond the visual
Design as problem solving vs. design as idea manifestation
Design Research
Getting designs executed
Tools & Materials (not all hammers are equal and some are even bad
with nails)
Collaboration (designers & non-designers)
Leaving the "designer" identity behind. Just "be"
Hiring & evaluating talent; portfolios and beyond
Meaning-based design/economics

Please for the love of g-d lose the "certification" bit. Where is
this relevant in design today?

I also think that issues in design education are far deeper than the
dichotomy you impose. The very nature of education today is in flux.
Just look at the recent decision by GA Tech to combine 3 design
programs into 1 program, or the non-design, design thinking education
movement.

-- dave

I'll stop there.
-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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11 Aug 2009 - 11:19am
Adrian Howard
2005

On 11 Aug 2009, at 09:01, David Malouf wrote:

[snip]
> Collaboration (designers & non-designers)
[snip]

++ to that.

Cheers,

Adrian
--
http://quietstars.com - twitter.com/adrianh - delicious.com/adrianh

11 Aug 2009 - 11:28am
Jack L. Moffett
2005

On Aug 11, 2009, at 5:01 AM, David Malouf wrote:

> Please for the love of g-d lose the "certification" bit. Where is
> this relevant in design today?

Yep, that's one that I wasn't planning on using. Four years ago, it
was a hot topic.

> I also think that issues in design education are far deeper than the
> dichotomy you impose.

Sorry? I'm not aware that I suggested any dichotomy.

Best,
Jack

Jack L. Moffett
Senior Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.459.0310 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

To design is much more than simply
to assemble, to order, or even to edit;
it is to add value and meaning,
to illuminate, to simplify, to clarify,
to modify, to dignify, to dramatize,
to persuade, and perhaps even to amuse.

- Paul Rand

11 Aug 2009 - 1:56pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Jack, the item listing is all I can go on.
It is listed as, "Formal Education vs. Self-taught "
versus in my book is usually set up as a dichotomy.

1) There are huge & important issues in just formal education
2) Even w/in "self-taught" there is a continuum, no? books,
conferences, mentorships, etc.

Maybe you can explain more what this line item mean?

BTW, I'm thinking of proposing a panel on design education @ IxD10,
so I've been thinking about this one a lot!

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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11 Aug 2009 - 2:20pm
Marc Rettig
2004

Hi Jack,
You didn't say who your students are, or what the course goals might be. So
maybe you already have this covered, but I'd add:

- Core readings in design (e.g., Dreyfuss' "Designing for People," maybe
Victor Papanek, a few selected papers,...)

- Selected surveys or cases from the major communities of practice in the
design world (this might almost double as a sort of history survey as well):
graphic design, industrial design, interface and interaction design,
experience/service/transformation design (those slashes aren't meant to
indicate that those terms are synonymous -- I'm just looking to lump a few
things together for the purpose of what looks to be a survey course
</flame-retardant>)

- To be current, something about the growing amount of people applying the
design process to significant social and environmental issues

And I'm not sure where you'll fit it -- maybe in design and business(?) --
but you might consider assigning one or more of the first three papers from
Boland and Colopy's "Managing as Designing."

It would be nice if your students came out of this course with a sense of
the power of the design approach to characterizing problems and creating
appropriately. That, and the core practices of design research,
sense-making, modeling, concept generation, prototyping, validation, and
iteration. The actual practice of design might be a swirling, confusing sort
of uh, weather pattern, but the core or heart of Design has tremendous
power. Knowledge of that power should be (and is being) propagated far
outside the usual design curricula.

All the best with your course!

- Marc

. . . .
Marc Rettig
Fit Associates, LLC

11 Aug 2009 - 3:45pm
Jack L. Moffett
2005

On Aug 11, 2009, at 7:56 AM, David Malouf wrote:

> Jack, the item listing is all I can go on.
> It is listed as, "Formal Education vs. Self-taught "
> versus in my book is usually set up as a dichotomy.

Ah, I see. I didn't realize you were referring to this specific item
in my list. Yes, I agree that it is typically discussed as a
dichotomy, and if I'm remembering correctly, that's how the articles
we read tended to approach it, but I can assure you that our
discussion of those readings was not a black and white debate.

Best,
Jack

Jack L. Moffett
Senior Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.459.0310 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

Design is a process -
an intimate collaboration between
engineers, designers, and clients.

- Henry Dreyfuss

11 Aug 2009 - 4:06pm
Jack L. Moffett
2005

On Aug 11, 2009, at 3:20 PM, Marc Rettig wrote:

> You didn't say who your students are, or what the course goals might
> be.

Allow me to correct that.

These are masters students (and likely a couple of advanced seniors)
in a relatively traditional Graphic Design program. In the past, they
have had very little exposure to design as we discuss it on this list.
They don't know the potential of Design with a capital D and their
aspirations are limited as a result.

It is my goal to give them a greater awareness—very much as you stated:

> It would be nice if your students came out of this course with a
> sense of
> the power of the design approach to characterizing problems and
> creating
> appropriately. That, and the core practices of design research,
> sense-making, modeling, concept generation, prototyping, validation,
> and
> iteration. The actual practice of design might be a swirling,
> confusing sort
> of uh, weather pattern, but the core or heart of Design has tremendous
> power. Knowledge of that power should be (and is being) propagated far
> outside the usual design curricula.

The type of work that you do, Mark, is extremely inspirational to
them, as they don't realize that designers can do that. I think you
would be pleased with the work that a number of my students have ended
up doing—they've made me quite proud.

Thanks to all for your input. It's much appreciated.

Best,
Jack

Jack L. Moffett
Senior Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.459.0310 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

If I'd have asked my customers what they wanted,
they would have told me "A faster horse."
- Henry Ford

11 Aug 2009 - 9:53am
Laura Malone
2009

I'd incude

* Social Networking Design Patterns
* Waterfall vs. agile processes
Laura Malone

________________________________
From: Jack Moffett <jmoffett at inmedius.com>
To: discuss at ixda.org
Sent: Tuesday, August 11, 2009 6:27:26 AM
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Current Design Topics

I'm preparing my design seminar for the Fall semester, which is a
masters-level course. The last time I taught this specific course was
2005. I assigned readings on the following subjects:

Design Certification
Offshore Outsourcing
Design & Business
Formal Education vs. Self-taught
Design Ethics
Design Leadership
Making a Business Case for Design
Experience Design

Many of these are still relevant four years later, but I want to keep
the discussions contemporary. If you were picking current topics for
students to read, write about, and discuss, what would they be? What
are the big issues? Please keep in mind that this is not an
Interaction Design classit covers the entire design landscape. I'm
looking forward to your suggestions.

Thanks,
Jack

Jack L. Moffett
Senior Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.459.0310 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

Some men see things as they are and say "why?"
I dream of things that never were and say "why not?"

- George Bernard
Shaw

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13 Aug 2009 - 8:42pm
Sascha Brossmann
2008

Hi Jack,

I'd like to throw in (rather rough and unordered):

* Designing for sustainability (one could argue that good design has
always considered & done this)

* Design as an agent for economic, political, and social change (see
Marc's reply, as well)

* Design Thinking (also already hinted at by Marc) – IMHO an important
differentiation lies in the topic of analytical (the common method of
thought which we are mainly schooled and elsewise trained for) vs.
synthetical strategies for tackling a problem space. (Someone in the
back of my head also is waving a sign with ‘exploration!’ and
‘iterations!’ written on it in large print & bold) Of course, in
practice there should be no ‘versus’ applied, but a rather strong
‘and’. ;-)

* Agility (see also Laura's reply) – most agencies and the people
in/around them still seem to think/run in a waterfall model.
Especially if they have their background in print or more traditional
ID. I'd like to make a bet that at least some change is ahead here.

* Cross-media and media agnostic design strategies

* Designing for behaviour – though I'd still like to argue against
Fabricant that all communicative human activity aims at influencing
behaviour, somehow – behaviour is utterly relevant, but IMHO
definitely NOT a kind of medium, and even less a design-specific one
(might provide a good starting point for a discussion to reflect on
the specific core ‘materials’ one is concerned with)

* Design as a ‘pure’ service industry producing media artifacts vs.
design as consultancy or development partnership. The typical
artifacts produced by designers in the latter case become more a kind
of (necessary & important) side-product then (hopefully a rather well
refined and distilled one).

* Speculative/discourse/fictional design (e.g. much work done at RCA's
Designing Interactions programme) vs. applied solutions.

* Many-to-many communication

* Mass customisation

BTW, it might be interesting to read e.g. Otl Aicher's seminal “Die
Welt als Entwurf” (World as Design) as an important historical trace
of current ideas re: design thinking and the like. In any case, I
think that designers should become better aware of designs own short
(intellectual) history. The whole discipline could still improve on
reflecting itself (ha! à propos, another interesting read: D. Schoen
‘The Reflective Practitioner’ ;-)) Besides: a notable topic to look
for when reflecting on design as discipline or designer's
self-conception: designer's omnipotence (modernism[?]) vs. designer's
impotence (post-modernism[?]) in terms of impact on the world around
us.

Cheers,

Sascha
--
&:create

14 Aug 2009 - 4:43am
milan
2005

> BTW, it might be interesting to read e.g. Otl Aicher's seminal “Die
> Welt als Entwurf” (World as Design) as an important historical trace

Most things that come to my mind where already said. But when digging in
past and current reflections on the design discipline, there are several
good books originally written in German to consider (re-)reading. During
my studies in Düsseldorf, they made me think a lot about what it's all
actually about. Unfortunately not all of them are available in English.

Karl Gerstner, Programme entwerfen / Designing programmes
A classic read, an introduction to design as envisioning dynamic
"programs" or systems, and concrete artifacts being just results of those
programs. It was written before the digitalisation took place, and
provides an advanced way to approach design work, still valuable today.

Systemisches Design, Cyrus D. Khazaeli
Pointing in the same direction, that book introduces a systemic approach
to design, taking into account psychological and semiotic insights. Here's
a review:
http://www.sapdesignguild.org/community/book_people/review_systemisches_design.asp

Helmut Schmid: Gestaltung Ist Haltung / Design Is Attitude
It's actually more a collection of his works, but demonstrates how a
designer/typograph can contribute to bridging cultures (in this case the
Japanese and European), and account for the social responsibility behind
concrete creative work.
http://www.schmidtoday.com/

Felicidad Romero-Tejedor, Der denkende Designer / The thinking designer
A comprehensive essay on the practice of design and a shift of paradigm
from aesthetics to cognition, and to enhance artifacts by giving them a
semantic meaning.

I think the most important challenge to design as a discipline is how to
prevent designers themselves to reduce the scope of their work to pure
tactics and "making pretty things". I know design students and even
practicioning designers who do that, and are "allergic" to any strategic
thinking in their work. In most cases it's not the others who do this,
it's ourselves.

milan

--
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milan guenther * interaction design
p +49 173 2856689 * www.guenther.cx

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