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DDDE (Designerly Designed Design Education)

Type of project
01.08.2011 -> 01.10.2013

This project has been completed

About the project

The DDDE-project is planned to be a three yearlong R&D endeavor where the ultimate and over-arching goal is to develop a more profound understanding of aspects that underpin good design educations in a northern Europe context (funding for last year 2013/14 tbc). Three Scandinavian design schools therefore started 2011/12 to identify and address contemporary challenges within design education. The schools are: (i) Designskolen Kolding, Denmark (ii)  The Institute of Design at the School of Architecture and Design in Oslo, Norway (iii) Konstfack, Sweden

DDDE can be characterized as a special kind of benchmarking project where learning from and with each other-facilitating the ‘design’ of different ways of educating designers-  are more essential than performing rigorous measuring and evaluations of the present situation. However, the intention is not to establish the best approach, but rather good – or excellent – approaches that as much as possible utilize the potential as it emerge at each given institution.  All three are design institutions sharing many of the same challenges when it comes to educating designers for tomorrow. This is a tomorrow that in many respects, primarily due to new conditions, seems to require some sort of redesign of the approaches employed. It also seems that many of design’s traditional core competencies – like making alternative solutions more likely- increasingly becomes more and more crucial. The latter seems to suggest that we need to be somewhat wary as to how to change is done. Hence, in the transition, we are all concerned about a tendency that seems to superficially promote  design as “important” without a film underpinning of what it might entail. For this reason, the three schools chosen – all having a profound competence in the “traditional” industrial design tradition – have a mutual interest to cooperate in order to explicitly articulate, benchmark and further develop different educational approaches of design. These differences are both underpinned by the pluralistic approach and by the fact that the schools, albeit all similarities, also are quite different.  Arguably is the study performed in a designerly manner, meaning that focus rather is on how it »could be« – or how we believe it »ought to be« – tomorrow, than rigorously analyzing how it actually »is« today. The intention is to pragmatically discuss and reveal »differences making a difference« within a diversity of topics, but with a special attention towards what it implies for Higher Education within Design. The points below, taken from the original application, shows some of the topics the project intend to eventually cover:

Academization and what are the real needs for it and what kinds of theoretical inputs and organizational role-models are actually appropriate for these kinds of design educations?  Conversely, what are the features in the traditional design traditions worth nurturing in a more academic context?

– Professionalization and what is underpinning our “professional knowledge” is critical. For instance, there seems to be a tension between the discourses of the professions in it selves (i.e. “the peers”), the discourses of art/culture, the discourses of commerce and the discourses of academic research. How to handle (or even utilize?)these tensions?

Increased complexity. Does this require more general or more specialized designers? How do we e.g. understand and conduct integrated product development and interdisciplinary?

Design didactics. How do we teach and train the professional designer and how does that relate to other professional programs and/or academic subjects? For instance, what is the design studio of tomorrow, how do we handle team-work vs. individual training and how we best (if we do) cooperate with external partners.

Ethical issues are paramount for every profession. However design seems to have a special kind of responsibility, somehow design both a part of the problems and (hopefully) also a part of potential solutions to the kind of mess our consumption society have caused. But how do we best incorporate these issues in our education?  How do we e.g. relate to issues concerning Foresights and “Climate Change”?

Design trends. What are these and how do we want to relate to them? Based on an analysis of the world around us we need to to ask ourselves if we prefer to be followers, “best in class” or do we even aspire to spearhead the development? Or do we prefer to be an odder alternative going our own ways…or is that even a trend itself?

Design research. General speaking, this is a relatively new phenomenon. But each school already has, in different ways, started to implement different forms of research. This involves several different approaches where design both can be the object of study and the tool/method to perform it. In this particular case we believe that it both will be the object and also one (among others) important tool. Special attention will be given to how design education can be understood as a special form of profession and what we can learn from other professions studied within “profession studies”, how research can inform and interact with our educational programs, and vice versa.

Initially was the focus on building up a common knowledge or understanding of each institution. By now (June 2012) have two complete loops of visits to each and every institution been completed. On top of presentations of each institution and the special kind of ‘bench-marking’ or comparative discussion that naturally follows; has each visit had a special theme with special ‘in-situ’ relevance for the institution visited at that particular time. These themes addresses issues like e.g. relevant pedagogical education for design teachers, tensions between praxis and theory in design education, design education’s relation to research, etcetera. A new theme, that seemed to be a bit neglected in our original plans, have also been identified. That is the important issue of ‘feed-back’. Initially was only experiences of feed-back to students discussed, but more recently have feedback in more generally terms been analyzed, containing a sub-division of different cases like: (i) teacher => student (ii) student => teacher (iii) student => student, (iv) teacher => teacher and finally also to some extent (v) institute <=> society. As a quite designerly tool to facilitate these kinds of different feedbacks have different kinds of, both digital and traditional, portfolios been looked into. In addition have the participants of the project been utilized as external censors for two of the three schools Diploma work. The themes identified as the most interesting during the project’s first year are clustered in the fig below:




For the academic year 2012/13 the plan is to focus on the development of concrete design teacher courses in design pedagogy and a draft of a theoretical reader that hopefully are able to fill some of the literature gaps experienced in design educations of today.