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  • Foto do escritorMarcio Leite


Atualizado: 15 de abr. de 2020

By Márcio Leite, Originally published on Student Clustter report of NEWS VIEWS 02 - London, 2009.

I Design It, You Design It, We All Design It! Demonstrating why the methods of teaching design must be updated as fast as the changing habits and practices of our society.

Photo: Retro washing powder pillows made by 'You Make Me Design' brand.

Since my graduation from a university in Brazil, I have been intrigued by the dichotomy between visual arts and design practice. I was never able to understand how to separate the artistic perception/expression of the world from the visual technique practices used in design. It was very difficult for me to detach art from thetechnical understanding of colors, forms and meanings employed in design practice.

The question I continuously asked myself was: Is it possible for design to be strictly technical, stripped from any emotion, even when designing a detergent box? In my perspective, there is no difference between a sponsored art piece and a visual identity project because both approaches demand a semiotical construction as well as an emotional and critical point of view.

Photo: Practical typesetting classes of Master Arts in graphic design at the London College of Communication. London, 2008.

The lastcentury dichotomy between art and design is finally taking a new shape as it is being incorporated into our contemporary society as a way of life and culture. It is possible to assume that, in the last decade, our contemporary post-industrial society has been immersed in drastically increasing number of new digital tools and mass media culture that it has been influencing and changing the way we produce and consume Design.

Photo: Josef Albers teaches his students in the preliminary course. Bauhaus preliminary class, 1928. (Bauhaus archive).

Essentially, we are living in a “design society” where design is no longer an important process of production but something largely advertised as an important “accessory” of a long list of products on the market shelves. Design is exceeding its original function and becoming a powerful marketing tool that sells cars, furniture, toys, and any other commodity.

As much as design is influencing society, society is influencing design. I had a long conversation with a good friend who is part of a new generation of tutors in Brazil and director of the Design department of a countryside university in a very specific demographic area, and we strongly agreed that society, perhaps more than ever, is shaping design, design education and its comprehension as a profession. In the industrial city where my friend teaches, there is an increasing demand for designers (either graphic and industrial designers). However, the local economy has very specific needs. This means that the market would be requesting more technical skilled professionals rather than critical or analytical professionals.

Photo: Students from the UNIFOA design course in Volta Redonda, countryside of Rio de Janeiro, design an electrical vehicle. Global comprehension of design methods applied to local industry context. Volta Redonda, Rio de Janeiro, 2012.

This poses the question: how can a university create a curricula that respects and appreciates the critical and analytical aspect of Design education when the market is asking for something else?

Professional designer is gradually gaining a new meaning. For specific markets focussed only on the technical practitioner, this means that any humanistic approach in education might seem as an unnecessary appendage. However, these markets lack an understanding of the value of some essential competences which are extremely relevant on Design practices, especially in the present days. It is up to the university to educate the market as well, to bring these industries closer. It would be up to the university to take on this new role as well, to educate the market and bring these industries close.

The issue today is no longer about visual arts versus technical practice, but the future of Design education in a society that is now able to produce its own bespoke design solutions. The new professional of today’s era must not only be proficient in managing new “creative suitcase” software or have a deep typographic understanding, but most importantly must also be deeply immersed in the exploratory of visual codes of particular micro-society groups. In other words, methods of teaching Design must be updated as fast as the changing habits and practices of our society as well as continue to attend to the demands of specific societies and design economies, educating them about its new capacities and skills.

In response to my first question: to design even the most ordinary detergent box the professional must be prepared in order to be able to understand who the audience is in its essence from socio cultural perspective. This professional must be able to contextualize and place the socio-human factor in the centre of his work, more than make a beautiful trendy artwork. That it is how the audience will better understand the message and incorporate the object into their life.

In our “design society”, it is incontestable that anyone can attempt to design. However, the new professional is who knows in true how to place the appropriated design in the right place.

Photo: Alumini group MAGD/LCC 10 years after graduation. Design more than ever follows social causes and it is a strong political tool. London, September 2018.

By Márcio Fábio O. Leite

MA Graphic Design • University of the Arts London / LCC

Originally published on Student Clustter report of NEWS VIEWS 02 - London, 2009.

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