There is a constant pressure at the universities to teach more efficiently, reducing the length of study and producing ready to work graduates. In design courses around Australia there are also constant changes towards increasing the digitalisation and reducing the hours of studio teaching, while graduating students are expected to gain competences to work in their respective discipline. Specialisation represents an important aspect of the teaching curriculum. On the other hand, within the design profession, there is also a need for flexibility and collaboration. Design graduates are expected to constantly adapt their work in their professional life. Traditional art, architecture and design disciplines as we know them are being transformed, and our professions need to be able to adjust to all those fast changes. So how do we approach skill-based, specialised teaching having in mind the demand for flexible and unknown futures? Is there a still value in teaching multidisciplinary basic design studios?
This paper discusses multidisciplinary basic design courses, looking at pros and cons of specialisation and multidisciplinarity. We reflect on the history of basic design courses and use as case study a basic design unit we have developed at the University of Canberra, which includes architecture, industrial design, interior architecture and landscape architecture.