Generating Design with Value: Educating the Designer of the 21st Century

Dr. Lisa Scharoun & Mr. Stephen O’Connor
2012 Conference

‘Modern design education,’ explains Michael Bierut of Pentagram, ‘is essentially value-free: every problem has a purely visual solution that exists outside any cultural context’ (Bierut, 2012). Graphic Design education is often structured around two common themes: the introduction of technological skill sets for production and the broad stylistic skills needed for a solid portfolio of work. These two streams, whilst essential in the education of a designer, often ignore the element of wider design thinking skills that are the key to the development of a successful design practitioner. Creative problem solving has always been the focus of design schools, however this method is often narrowly applied to the confines of a specific outcome: the design of a product, packaging, or logo-type to suit a particular client or style. Design Thinking, by contrast, is a methodology that expands the creative thinking process beyond the traditional constraints and challenges the designer to shift their thinking from the specific problem to the wider task at hand. ‘The problems that challenged designers in the twentieth century – crafting a new object, creating a new logo are simply not the problems that will define the twenty-first,’ explains Design Thinking guru Tim Brown (2009, p.37). In the recently revised Bachelor of Graphic Design at the University of Canberra, our projects are designed around creating value in the evolving social landscape of Australia, equipping students with the knowledge and foresight to solve current and emerging design problems. This paper will outline the techniques and projects utilized in the program at UC to facilitate design thinking.

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About the author

Dr. Lisa Scharoun holds a PhD in Visual Communications from the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University in Brisbane. Lisa completed a Bachelor of Arts in graphic design at Florida Southern College in Lakeland FL, USA and subsequently worked in the advertising industry in the US before commencing a Masters in Design Studies at The University of the Arts London, Central St. Martin’s College. She has previously held the position of head of the graphic design discipline at Deakin University in Melbourne and has also lectured in the visual communications department at Raffles Design Institute in Shanghai, China. Her research focus is on global graphic design strategy, emotions and value sets in visual communications and global concepts of utopia in contemporary graphic design strategy.

Mr. Stephen O’Connor completed the Master of Digital Design at Queensland College of Art, Griffith University in Brisbane in 2010 after spending eight years in the graphic design industry and two years teaching graphic design with Study Group Australia. Capitalising on his post graduation momentum, Stephen plans to enrol in the Doctorate of Visual Arts at Griffith QCA with a proposal to identify and expose Brisbane’s visual culture. Moving into design education Stephen applies his specialisation in digital design, process and production to enhance design education delivery.