More academical qualifications for better ideas?
Author: Giulia Fioravera
Is it really required to focus our studies on a very specific field to be a good designer? Wouldn’t a wide knowledge lead us to the best ideas?
In fact nowadays ideas have more and more relevance within our profession. Speaking about this topic with a curator based in Berlin, it came to light that the creative industry is strongly inclined to “concepts” and “virtual products” instead of pragmatism and the product itself. Which brings us to the question: Which kind of designer will conceive the best quality ideas?
In observing some of the contemporary European realities (Italian, English and partly the German) and on the other hand the north European one, different design approaches can be pinpointed. The first reality, probably arrived from the USA, shows a tendency to a “super-specialization” made of a Bachelor, a MA program and finally various PHDs. The second one consists of the alternation between studies and working experiences which can provoke a change of course.
But what are the “super-specialization” tendency reasons?
Reasons of time: Many students prefer to stay in school and enrich their knowledge to postpone, this way, the difficult job inclusion process. Many professors also suggest them to linger in academy in order to acquire more cultural elements.
Socio-economical reasons: Young people can easily feel on their skin the difficulty, discomfort and uncertainty of the future. Therefore, they don’t understandably dare to embark on multiple studies in order to choose their favorite. They would rather pick one and focus on it until the end.
Market reasons: The creative industry is always chosen by more people. To rise in the ranks within this field, many designers opt for a “niche” in an almost unheard-of area in which they can pioneer, or where there is a skill gap they can fulfill. Sometimes, in order to make a choice, they consider the market needs instead of following their own passions or interests-as if designers shall support that market or take benefit of it. In addition to that, in many cases to apply for some job opportunities in many design studios, an MA degree is specifically required…
Alongside the “super-specialization” there is also the “holistic” approach. For those who don’t know what that is, it is helpful to read a suggested definition given during a student’s visit to one of the most prestigious design studios in Helsinki, Pentagon Design. The point defined was that wide competences which encompass several fields, maybe not directly related to design, are necessary to create something innovative and of value. This tendency to take advantage of every discipline can derive from:
- A more or less stable and solid market which lower the fear not to find a job position
- A socio-economical situation able to encourage to experimentations and trials dictated by the personal free choice and interests
- A different approach to studies. There is the habit to work for a while after receiving a bachelor’s degree in order to test the profession (and maybe conclude in in the decision to pursue graduate studies in a different field)
- The government subventions and the free instruction whose result is the persistence in schools. (Many students older than 30 years old make more than those with a single degree)
Truth is that the country where designers study doesn’t necessarily correspond with the country where they are going to get employed. This evidence can bring to contrasts and misunderstandings as well as compensations and interesting cooperations. This creates globalization and a frontiers-opened world, but also the progressively growing local realities give us designers the input to question ourselves about the correspondence between quantity and quality within our field. Do several academical qualifications make us better as ideas creators? What do we really need to improve?
If we look back to XVII century when many intellectuals and artists used to visit Italy and spend there from 3 month to 8 years seeking quality, we can notice how learning and education passes through various disciplines and the contact with different intellectual and pragmatic wolds. We can recall many prestigious figures who made the “Grand Tour”, but, in this case, maybe the most appropriate can be the Flemish painter Paul Rubens. His suitability derives from the fact that he was a intellectual, a languages expert, a politician and a diplomatic in addiction to an artist. He had a complex personality and he was capable to take his whole baggage of knowledge into his painting specialization: the “incarnato”.
A journey seeking quality and learning… can the contemporary “Grand Tour” be constituted by the Biennale, the Salone del Mobile and the various Fashion design weeks all over the world? Who knows. Still, aside from the journey topic, competition wants us designers to be more and more exclusive but able at the same time to have a global overview.
Each design approach has its pros and cons, so once again it’s designers’ turn to decide.