The Design Council, in collaboration with four universities, has launched a new educational programme for UK design students that aims to “bring people from different disciplines together”, says Bel Reed, education lead at the organisation.
The Design Academy is an initiative supported by training body Creative & Cultural Skills, and has been launched because of a “growing need for designers who can work in management and social innovation, and who can respond to more complex challenges”, says Reed.
The academy will encompass one module intended to complement existing undergraduate design courses, and says it will offer material that is included on master’s level programmes. It aims to increase “student employability and versatility”.
The four founding universities of the programme include London College of Communication, the Manchester School of Art, Norwich University of the Arts and Nottingham Trent University.
Developing strategic design
“The UK has the largest design industry in Europe, and the second largest in the world, but there’s still space to do better,” says Reed. “We’re amazing at honing in designers with great craftsmanship, but businesses like IBM are telling us we don’t have the right in-house skills to further develop strategic design.”
She adds: “We want to improve on strategic design skills, industrial design and social innovation.”
Tackling societal challenges
Every year, the course will aim to tackle a “major societal challenge”, with this year’s focus being on “Design for Care”.
“We want to get design students to recognise the broad range of sectors they could be applying their skills to,” says Reed. “The Design Council has just completed a project helping to improve the lives of under-fives in Southwark and Lambeth (The Knee High Design Challenge), and another tackling dementia and social isolation through product design. It’s about recognising that design has an increasing value in that social innovation space.”
Professor Lawrence Zeegen, dean of the School of Design at London College of Communication, says: “I’m excited by the prospect of cross-disciplinary creativity, which will encourage design thinking and doing that will help to create solutions that contribute to a better society.”
Design Academy launched last week at New Designers UK graduate show.