Integrated Design

I have been looking at the Bachelors in Integrated Design offered by the Koln International School of Design. This means I have considered it from many angles and there are many things I like about it.

1. I know many designers who trained as one kind of designer and then went on to practice as another kind of designer. So in a sense traditional specializations are transmutable or convertible or – check this out – all the same.

2. The specialization in design is not at the level of design method, it is not at the level of aesthetics and it is not at the level of marke and branding. It is only in the knowledge and ability to work with technology. So textile designers learn a completely different technology to that learnt by other designers.

3. There is another level of specialization – that at the levl of skill, in that motor skill – so ceramic design in throwing pots, textile design in weaving and knitting. But the other disciplines are a bit removed from their material manipulation.

Now where Integrated design begins to make sense to me is in the absence of a charge or agency in the designer – in this I refer to the herding by schools of designers to channel them into sectorially defined professions. You are a product designer – and you will work in the manufacturing sector making appliances. There was probably and time and place for this – but that time is past. Some will disagree here  for that is the ‘real world’. But let us leave that aside – for there will continue to be enough design programs on this planet who will continue this kind of chanelling.

I am looking at a program where the ‘agency’ of the designer is to take on ‘intractable’ problems. A designer who does not feel compelled to go off and work in an office in a city or for a big multinational. One who is told in design school – that their role is to change the world and solve its problems.


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