Sustainability through education?

I like to think that design schools don’t just teach good creative thinking but also good habits that shape you as a professional later on and skills that can influence the profession in general.

I’ve been co-teaching one day a week at the University for the Creative Arts and in a way it’s been quite an education (couldn’t help it ;) ).

These 19-20 year olds spend 6 weeks trying out a different program every week and the practice of design is actually called “3DD” or 3D design. 3DD competes with illustration, animation, fine arts, photography and other such courses for student’s attention and at the end of the 6 weeks they will choose a “pathway” for the next 3-4 years.

All the different professions and opportunities in design such as architecture, product design, interior design, urban design, etc are all dumped into this one unappealing label.
Not only that, but the issue of sustainability doesn’t get mentioned anywhere, making this choice of a course completely removed from the realities of society and the professional environment.

This becomes quite obvious in the totally wasteful ways in which students treat the materials they are provided with. Card, paper, foam, toxic glues and the likes are thrown around. Shapes are cut right in the middle of a piece of paper or card and huge leftovers are simply discarded. Being sensitive to the environmental doesn’t grow on you, it’s taught or even imposed as just another set of constraints that come with being a designer.

If we are to make any kind of change in designer’s expectations of the world, their work and their clients, that’s where it starts: among the doubts and questions of students still working out where they stand in a world they don’t quite know how to master.

Categorized as Education

By designswarm

Blogging since 2005.


  1. Beyond just telling students not to be wasteful, I think it would be even more effective if they’d be able to experience the effects of their behaviour firsthand. At the least they could be given a budget of materials, forcing them to be efficient. Even better would be to translate material use into (simulated) environmental effects (no idea how you could pull that off though…)

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