Following Up From Yesterday

photo: flickr member G A R N E T

Yesterday, David Ramos commented upon my conversation with Adobe’s Lea Hickman:

Design curricula are failing to teach students how to work programmatically, and the best response, then, is to make software that tries to compensate for designers’ lack of knowledge? I can’t agree.

…and I couldn’t agree more. In fact, that’s the actual reason I wrote the piece—to point out that our design schools are failing us, flat out, by not integrating technology and design, and that the industry is going to continue to force designers into a corner.

I’m going to go one step further and say that if you, as a designer of the future do not participate intimately with technology, you will fail. You must understand the basic ideas of construction behind the web to design for it. Period. The end.

I emailed David later to see what his experience with technologists might be in the area he’s teaching. This is what he said:

I’m trying to get a handle on this whole kerfluffle, about how design and programatic-thinking meet. …and no, code is by no means common.

And yet I know that my colleagues and one-time school friends are teaching these subjects—be it with Processing, JavaScript, HTML/CSS, or through collaboration with people in computer science. I don’t have a sense for the ubiquity of these courses. I do get the feeling that they sit on the higher end of electives, and outside the design core curriculum.

This is a line of thinking I have continually touted in my writing here: design education is failing right now, because of its focus on visuals and lack of focus on technology. If anyone can even begin to prove me wrong, I’d love to hear about it. Oh look, there’s a comments form right down there.

7 thoughts on “Following Up From Yesterday

  1. Pingback: fixing the hobo suit » “Fine, I will also fix the hobo suit.”

  2. Ingrid

    I’m not sure what the answer is. 
    I graduated from a four-year design course in 2007 and I don’t feel like I have a solid grounding in much of anything. We did a little bit of everything. I think we wasted too much time conceptualising ideas no other people would ever understand and too little time implementing them well, i.e. honing actual design AND technology skills. 

  3. Pingback: An Open Letter to Graphic Design Students: Don't Follow the Web, Follow Your Heart — Imprint-The Online Community for Graphic Designers

  4. reidwt

    As a fairly recent graduate from Parson’s Communication Design program, I agree with the author. I keep in touch with classmates who chose to stay on the design-only path and they have already fallen behind in the job market. The program offered education on both sides of the fence, but there was definitely a fence. The two were not well integrated and students were set up (and able) to focus on one or the other.

    I feel fortunate to have self-educated to fill in the gaps but disappointed that the program was not practical in reflecting the changing industry. As long as design and technology are seen and taught as separate fields, the the failures will persist.  They’ve never been separate in my practice thus far.

  5. Shane

    I couldn’t agree more. The biggest thing about being a designer is trying to push the boundaries, and how can a designer be expected to do this if they don’t have any insight into exactly what technology is there and both the capabilities and limitations of the technology you are designing for. An excellent example is trying to design websites to be multi-screen compatible. The entire problem can’t be left to developers or the software, designers need to meet this half way. 

  6. Patric King Post author

    in terms of another technology: you’d be a horrible fabric artists if you didn’t know anything about how cloth was constructed or how weaving happened. the medium informs the work’s possibilities.

  7. Hazel

    Maybe I’ve got the wrong end of the stick here but I dissagree. Design and technology are two different things. Why should the creative know about the nuts and bolts? And why should the tech guy know about kerning? I guess it all depends on what area of design and technology similarly that you are talking about, that’s a big pigeon hole you’re assuming.