Beyond Discipline: Evolving Design Practice and Design Education in the Twenty-First Century

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    Since 2000, design practice in the UK has changed dramatically. Boundaries between design disciplines have dissolved, and many contemporary design studios now defy classification. These studios are reconfiguring the design landscape, yet a uni-disciplinary structure still dominates undergraduate education. This is creating a disconnection between practice and education and posing critical questions for the current design education system. This article outlines the findings of a PhD research study exploring this disconnection, and although situated within the UK, the findings have international relevance. An initial scoping exercise draws on interviews with leading commentators from the UK design sector, examining the evolution of design practice over the past 10 years, and possible future directions for undergraduate education. Findings highlight that UK policy for creative education has placed undergraduate design courses in potential crisis. Arguably, the current university system for design education is outdated. It is now necessary to redefine the skills and processes twenty-first-century designers need. The body of the research is situated within five internationally renowned creative studios which defy classification. In-depth ethnographic studies cross-analyse the creative processes of these studios and their views on education. Findings identify key components of each studio?s processes, while also exploring studio members? educational experiences, and reflections on future implications for pedagogy. This article argues that this growing disconnect between practice and education calls for existing pedagogic models to be challenged, proposes alternative approaches and highlights the need for policymakers, practitioners and educators to work together to best prepare young designers to meet today?s challenges.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-17
    Number of pages17
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 3 Nov 2020


    • design pedagogy
    • education policy
    • design practice
    • design professionals
    • organizational structures
    • case studies
    • collaboration


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