Design School: Reproductions of the Future

Professor Craig Bremner
2012 Conference

Since the inception of the Bauhaus, two major contemporary socio-cultural and technological transformations have forced schools of design to revise their curriculum. Firstly, if we follow contemporary literature on what is called postmodernism, then the turn to the discourse of disciplinary autonomy and inter-disciplinarity can be associated with the student uprising of 1968; and the second transformation can be associated with the emergence of consumer culture and tele-communication technologies. The socio-cultural transformation then had three consequences for the teaching of design. Firstly, instead of the Bauhaus emphasis on ‘design’, ‘design studies’ sought the realisation of its potential in establishing a dialogue with methods and theories developed in scientific realms. Secondly, whereas a major objective of the Bauhaus was to replace the traditional notion of ‘creativity’ with that of ‘invention’, the latter’s scope was framed either by typological and morphological research, or (and this is the third consequence) by the emergence of neo-avant-gardism supported by the rising inter-disciplinary research, and a positive attitude toward technology formulated by revisionist readings of the Modern design movement. The other contemporary development that has transformed the state of design education is the introduction of digital technologies in the 1990s, not only in the area of design, but also in the traditional ways of manufacture and representation. And if we accept the argument that digitalisation has negated the Humanist discourse on design theory and practice, then it is necessary to investigate the ways that digitally reproduced serial variability breaks away from the traditionally conceived rapport between designing, making, and representation. In this paper I examine how this amalgam of vectors is crafting the education of design, and I speculate on the challenge to the future by the practice of design derived from globalised information flows and the spectacle of image making.

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About the author

Craig Bremner is the Professor of Design at Charles Sturt University. Prior to this he held the positions of Professor in Design Pedagogy at Northumbria University and Professor of Design at the University of Canberra, where he had also been Dean of the Faculty of Design & Architecture. Starting with an Arts degree in English literature, he followed that by studying design in Milan, then wrote a PhD within architecture at RMIT. His research deals with developing methods to find out how and why we don’t know much about the experience of design, and finding ways to make it clear why not knowing is an essential and valuable beginning point of our practice. Some applications of his research methods traced the experience of living in Glasgow, using banks, and driving motorcars. In his private practice he has curated design exhibitions that have toured Australia, the USA, and Japan, and he has worked as a designer in Italy, Scotland and Australia.