The theme of the conference was design education 2050. The intent of my paper and presentation was not to say how design education in 2050 should be, but inform design educators on what designers were doing today in the context of the public and social sectors. I hoped this might help inform pathways for educating tomorrow's designers.
I spoke about the design projects in Dott 07 as exemplars of where some designers were doing work today and profiled the different roles of the designer I interpreted from my research on Dott 07 (see image below for the seven dominant roles I drew from the Dott projects).
I also talked about the broader context of which this was all happening and how there were several enabling factors right here in the UK which help create an industry of design consultancies working with the public and social sector. These factors included the policy context, access to funding and enterprise tools, the open-mindedness of clients etc.
Finally I talked about what I have come to find in my research around this movement of 'designing for social good' (which has several names such as design for social impact, social design etc). I mapped the numerous initiatives (programmes of design projects) which were happening around the globe to demonstrate design's and the designer's contribution to society (see below). Included on the map was Dott 07 but also Project H, of which the organisation's founder, Emily Pilloton would be a keynote at the following Icsid World Design Congress.
Map of research-led and practice-led initiatives in designing for social good from my conference paper, 'Perspectives on the changing role of the designer: Now and to the future'
The feedback I received on my paper presentation was really positive, and the conference delegates had excellent things to say about Dott 07 and its project and how inspired they were to hear of them. Many delegates approached me to say that they had definitely thought about designers contributing in this way, but had not known that initiatives like Dott 07 existed with projects that had already happened.
In summation for the rest of the conference, I have to be honest and say that I found it difficult to take all that much away from the presentations I saw. The theme was very broad and I didn't feel as if the presentations I saw addressed the theme in a direct way. I felt some presentations didn't address the 'so what' for design education 2050. This was a bit disappointing, but maybe the theme was too broad for a one-day conference with presentations a maximum of 20 minute each in length- a very small amount of time to sink one's teeth into the subject matter and have a good discussion about it.
But having said all that, I did meet some really great people at this conference who were enthused, inspired and passionate about design education for tomorrow's designers. It was also great to visit the Temasek Polytechnic who hosted the conference and provided exceptional hospitality including a lovely lunch under the sun on the college grounds.
During lunch we got to tour the Polytechnic and I noticed the Greater than 60 Design Centre (though we didn't get to tour inside). The Centre addresses the demographic of the aging population and how design can provide "ideas and solutions that will make the ageing lifestyle a creative and an exciting one."
The following Icsid World Design Congress was a bigger conference focusing on design in 2050. It got several design studios from around the world to propose their ideas for what design in 2050 could look like. I'll report on this shortly so stay tuned!