Voxpop – what do you remember about being taught design at school?

Consultation on design’s place in the National Curriculum closed this week. What do you remember about being taught design at school?

Mat Hunter

‘Design & Technology wasn’t a formal part of the curriculum until 1988 but I was lucky enough to go to schools that had amazing wood and metalwork facilities. I started by copying others’ designs for furniture and then slowly gained the confidence to design myself. I learned so much about craftsmanship from my teachers but had to teach myself design. Frankly, the current curriculum proposals seem stuck back in that era, they ignore so much of what we have learned about design in the past 25 years.’

Mat Hunter, chief design officer, Design Council

Rob Howsam

‘I grew up in Scunthorpe. Design at my school meant Engineering. We had ‘Design and Technology’ where we could make a wooden stool or fruit bowl. The more enterprising made steel Throwing Stars. Art was a “doss subject”. We learned how to draw a sheep’s skull and to mix colours to mucky brown. Any thought of earning a living from creativity was absent. Art college was for “Hippies, drug takers and drop outs” and not men who make useful things out of steel.’

Rob Howsam, creative director, Purpose

Nick Eagleton

‘Chalk dust in maths. The history of haulage in Germany in Geography. Monsieur Lavisse and his stupid family in French. Cross-country in the pissing rain. A washed up art teacher. Why was I doing this stuff? The only thing that felt real, that felt relevant in all those years was being in the CDT labs. I could explore, experiment and make my way through the world. Mr Chester, I owe you so much.’

Nick Eagleton, UK creative director, The Partners

David Freer

‘I had no official design teaching at school but plenty of unofficial education: graffiti on the toilet walls; posters for school bands; or even forging parents’ handwriting for school notes. Also, like many designers, I had dyslexia and employed numerous lateral problem-solving techniques to compensate, even in classes like physics and maths. I think this made me realise early on, the importance of thinking in a more visual way.’

David Freer, founder, O Street

Michael Smith

‘In the ’80s, design wasn’t on anyone’s radar let alone on the curriculum. We did do a bit of technical drawing (with set-squares and pencils) in woodwork but we called that “engineering”. Art was one of my chosen subjects (it looked like less work than others) but I was more interested in doodling than doing art. I found a Letraset catalogue and would spend hours copying out the different typefaces; that was the best design education I’ve ever had.’

Michael Smith, director, Cog Design

Simon Waterfall

‘What do I remember about being taught design at school? Everything. It was my first teenage crush I loved it all. Nothing will dim those days. Thank you Mr Roberts, Brighton College.’

Simon Waterfall, vice president and creative director, Intel Media

Sebastian Bergne

‘The thing I remember most about the design education I had at school was how much fun it was to learn about history, problem solving and presentation skills, all in the same lesson.’

Sebastian Bergne, founder, Sebastian Bergne

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  • CAROLINE EDWARDS November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Some great memories for some respected creatives, but where are the women in this article? Are “Leading creatives” only male?

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