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Christian Guellerin: Free opinion about design education

06 December 2010

In a speech at the Design and Learning conference, last month in Brussels, Cumulus President Christian Guellerin reflected on the current state and position of design education.

The speech is reproduced on his blog, Free opinion about design education.

Guellerin asserts that, after the era of the industrial schools and that of the business schools, design institutions will now "take a predominant place in the Higher Education field." But it will be a different design education: "The former segmentation framing design education according to traditional categories such as product design, interior architecture, graphic design, and multimedia is going to be shattered to pieces, giving way to a more global-scoped practice of design." Designers should become creative professionals - a slightly deviant, generalist type of professional that could all the same be the manager - and design schools must evolve into “innovation centers.”

This squares nicely with Jean-Pierre Simon's statement, at the ELIA Biennial, that art schools should be and present themselves as cultural centres in their own right. Probably to be a design research lab, and to start incubator units, is the counterpart in design of what fine art schools do in running galleries, organizing symposia and supporting project spaces.
There are, however, two aspects of Guellerin's speech which fit together a bit uneasily. On the one hand, he argues for the social role of designers, acting as communicators and showing concern about environmental waste and social exclusion. On the other hand, the predominant role that he claims for design schools is in shaping a creative economy and preparing the future industry leaders - that is, climbing the social ladder. For all his concern with changing the economy, and steering it away from sole financial interests, there is a certain elitism in this.

Read the full blog post here.

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