What do you remember about being taught design at school?

Designers tell us their memories of design teaching at school and college.

Adrian Shaughnessy

‘I went to a village school where there was only one teacher and 20 pupils. Art lessons were our teacher’s way of having a rest. Next, I went to a comprehensive where you either played sport or did art. Design wasn’t even mentioned. Unlike Studio H in the USA, where 8-11 year olds have “designed, and constructed a 2000-square-foot farmers market pavilion, a pop-up park, laser-etched skateboards, sculptural concrete public furniture, roadside farmstands, and more.” Now, if only I’d gone to that school.’

Adrian Shaughnessy, designer, writer and Royal College of Art senior tutor

Heidi Lightfoot

‘I was lucky enough to be taught by a series of mad, challenging and inspiring art teachers at school. Precomputers, the focus was on drawing and experimenting with different mediums. My first foray into the world of packaging design was probably the 20-hour pencil drawing I did of a crumpled Quatro can (an 80s classic). Although it was only at age 17 (probably 10 years later than todays budding creatives!) when I began to understand what “design” was. I strongly believe that those earlier years of observing and creative exploration were a vital foundation for the problem-solving I do now.’

Heidi Lightfoot, creative director and founder, Together Design

Ruby Davies

‘I remember the design department in school having an array of huge mysterious machines that no one as allowed to touch, and seemed terrifying. So instead we spent hours and hours sanding. Design in high school, for me, was making something really smooth.’

Ruby Davies, designer and Design Council Future Pioneer

Paula Benson

‘I went to Central/St Martins to study Graphic Design in the late ’80s and it had an excellent reputation. When I arrived I realised that was because good people attract good people and I learnt much more being surrounded by talented, hungry and motivated young design students than any formal teaching. It was also quite competitive and we all fed off each other. The facilities were so basic and the course underfunded that one key thing I learnt was to be resourceful. We were encouraged to experiment and think laterally, but nothing was handed out on a plate so if we wanted to make something happen we had to find a way of making it happen ourselves. That skill was one of the best lessons life could teach me. Oh and maybe one class about kerning and leading…’

Paula Benson, partner Form

Marcroy Smith

‘I remember the first day in the printmaking studios at Brighton University, which changed my direction completely. I developed a love for using screenprint and letterpress as a my core printing processes, which in turn changed the way that I thought about and created images; because I would think in layers and transparency of inks. Even if I was creating artwork on a computer, I would create the image in colour layers using the multiply effect to see how overlays would look.’

Marcroy Smith, designer, People of Print

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