RSA calls for change in design education

The Royal Society of Arts is calling for design education to focus more on the design of services and move away from what it says is an emphasis on product and industrial design.

An RSA paper released today, Social Animals: Tomorrow’s Designers in Today’s World, says students need to gain a broader range of communication and research skills to help them work within public services.

It outlines six challenges for design educators, among them the suggestion that students should be taught how to be ‘problem finders’ as well as problem solvers, to help find new ways of delivering public services.

RSA head of design Emily Campbell says, ‘We are currently seeing huge opportunities arising in service innovation, which stems from all the time trying to get public service providers to invest in service design.’

She adds, ‘Generally speaking design schools are not preparing for that at the moment.’

The paper, which was authored by Sophia Parker and emerged from this year’s RSA Design Directions award competition, also looks at how redesigning prison visits could benefit inmates and their families and reduce reoffending rates.

It suggests strategies such as creating a system of visiting ‘pods’ to offer enhanced privacy, and introducing virtual prison visits through a secure Internet connection.

Campbell says, ‘Recently announced plans for new prisons holding 1500 offenders each to be built in the next decade provide Government with a real opportunity to “build in” recognition of the importance of design in modelling and prototyping facilities.

‘There is an ongoing debate about the role designers could have in improving health and education services. Here is an opportunity to bring those skills to the prison environment, which provides us all with an essential public service.’

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  • Cedric Blanc November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I think this is a political concern. And can even be reduced to a left vs right oriantation.
    Everyone has needs and desires. Designer’s job is to respond to them, create them, whatever, this is another debate. What is currently being adressed here is how the designer does this. It can be a communal service or facility that the individual uses (no investment, and you pay for the service provided) or it can be a product that the individual buys, uses and desposes of (classic consumption).

    The problem right now is that the value of a product plunges as soon as it is purchased and the indivdual is left with nothing. This is actualy quite comparable to using a service but you create waste on the way.

    If you compare this to property, it is the same scenario. You rent: you get a service and you pay for it. You buy: you invest, you get this service, and if all goes well, you sell and get your original investment back (you get free service out of it).

    So service design can be a solution for a capital-less world (which is very contemporary, seeing what has happened to the economy) but don’t forget that since the start of humanity, the object is what seperates us from animals. And to create those objects is the role of the designer.

    I think undergraduate degrees should focus on technique, skills, practice, creative process etc… Then, Postgraduate courses should specialise in a specific area, such as environmental design, interaction design, service design, industrial design, vestimentary design, transportation design.

    I also think design studies are too short in the uk and everyone should study 5 years. Like in the rest of europe. Design is a difficult responsibility and young designers are too numerous and unqualified at the same time.

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