The T-Shaped Designer

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photo: flickr member boy_wonder.

Marissa Chen writes an interesting essay at DesignTaxi today; a look at attitudes of young graduating designers versus market realities. According to this piece, the design student has quite a few romanticized ideas that don’t necessarily hold up to the reality of current market burdens.

There’s a small piece in this which is actually central to what’s causing this schism between professorial intent and professional needs—look for the graf describing Tim Brown (of IDEO)’s concept of the T-shaped designer. This is the idea that a designer has a broad knowledge of many disciplines, but a deep knowledge of a specific one (be it motion design, print, web, that sort of thing) and “paints a rosy picture of the ideal employee.” Here’s a full look at Brown’s of the T-shaped designer, in his own words, written at Fast Comapny in ’05.

Design schools and students, from what I gather, are not fans of this approach of education, preferring to train (and be) design generalists. Youch; that doesn’t bode well for professional development. Wonder what could be done to get professional needs and educational intents for designers closer to being in line with one another.