Can Design be taught by Architects?
Can Architects teach Design? Yes. Should Architects teach design? Sometimes. Why? Asks Chris Webster Answer (attempt) by Cesar Jung-Harada. Dec 8th, 2020
01. Can Architects teach Design? Yes. Should Architects teach design? Preferably, No/sometimes Why? Asks Chris Webster Answer (attempt) by Cesar Jung-Harada. Dec 8th, 2020
02. Scale Architects and Designers tend to at very different scales. The work of the architect tend to be “context”. The work of the designer is involved in the “action”.
03. Time. The Architect and the Designers need to think at very different scales of time. The sources, processes, lifecycles are almost entirely different.
- A city should be planned for centuries.
- A building is expected to last at least 100 years
- An interior refurbishment should be thought for over a decade
- Furnitures are expected to last a couple of years
- A culinary experiences is generally over under an hour.
We can gaze at a city skyline with our eyes, walk into a building with our feet, perceive the acoustic of a room with our ears, touch a furniture with our hands, smell and taste an appliance and ingest the food it contains with our noses, mouth and entire digestive system
04. Power Because of the scale, time the work is expected to last, the cost, the Architect tends to be a lot closer to power (higher), and Designers closer to production (lower) and form a self-image and social scale perceptions that are different.
05 History “Architect” is a far more ancient profession. Tools have evolved a lot, but most buildings handled by architects remain custom-built. In the world, Architects are responsible for about 2% of the residential units (25% in the USA). “Designer” as a profession, emerged with the industrial revolution. The majority of the goods you use on an everyday basis have been designed and mass manufactured. “Design+” intention of identifying the Designer as a “flexible coordinator” correctly captures the evolution of the Designer as a profession, from Arts & Crafts, skills and creativity, to the Bauhaus system design. 2% of the built environment is designed by architects: https://www.architectmagazine.com/practice/the-98-percent-solution_o 25% in the USA: http://www.harvarddesignmagazine.org/issues/12/seventy-five-percent
06. Mindset Traditionally, Art and Science are seen as opposite of a linear spectrum, with Design and Engineering in intermediary disciplines. In a more recent conception (Krebs wheel of creativity, interpreted by Neri Oxman) it reveals the outdated nature of that linear spectrum. A great scientist must be extremely creative, a great artist must know a lot about science. And perhaps it revealed that both art and science are more on the side of curiosity and investigation, while design and engineering are more pragmatic, responding to more immediate needs. At HKU, under I feel Architecture is mostly technocratic (similar to that of Carlo Ratti, see “Well Into the 21st Century The Architectures of Post-Capitalism?” by Alejandro Zaera https://www.archdaily.com/801641/architectures-political-compass-a-taxonomy-of-emerging-architecture-in-one-diagram/5853c564e58ecebf57000221-architectures-political-compass-a-taxonomy-of-emerging-architecture-in-one-diagram-photo
07. Tradition Architects generally MAKE MODELS OF THE THINGS that other engineers, construction workers, decorators will make. In that sense, Architect, Designers tend to MAKE THE THINGS THEMSELVES. They can also make things to be replicated in the factory and distributed.
08. Evolution The realm of Architecture had a tendency to expand LINEARLY into the build environment on one hand towards larger scale (urban and landscape planning) whereas Design has expanded EXPONENTIALLY in every technological innovation (analog, digital, biological, experiencial, strategic, business, governance, systems). In that sense, Architecture is truly is a DISCIPLINE, where design is an APPROACH of doing many different task.
09. Teaching Because of the Tradition and the Evolution of the discipline,
- Architect generally work on scale model with soft materials on a table.
- Designers work on their object at scale one in the workshop - and consequently need to have access to a broader range of materials, machinery for crafts and industrial processes.
10. Conclusion Because of the major differences in
- Time (materials processes)
- Power (or relation to power)
I believe design should be taught by designers And Architecture by architects.
If we ambition to teach Design at HKU, we should hire more Designers to teach Design. Thank you.
Architecture-trained great designer
- Tinker Hatfield (Shoe): Key Nike designer: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tinker_Hatfield
- Pierre Cardin (Fashion): https://www.vogue.com/article/pierre-cardin-exhibition-brooklyn-museum-of-art
- Rei Kawakubo (Fashion, Comme des Garçons): https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/28/t-magazine/fashion/rei-kawakubo-comme-des-garcons-themes.html
- Architects doing Design: https://www.archdaily.com/531228/when-architects-try-their-hand-at-industrial-design
- Architect to Product Designer: https://dribbble.com/stories/2020/06/15/career-change-product-designer
- Architect to UX Designer: https://uxdesign.cc/7-transferable-skills-from-architecture-to-product-design-27ebe78fdc27
Design/Engineer/Craft trained Architects
- Thomas Heatherwick: trained in production design at the Royal College of Art: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Heatherwick
- Frank Lloyd Wright: dropped our of civil-engineering
- Louis Sullivan: Fine Art-trained
- Peter Zumthor: Cabinet Maker
- Le Corbusier: Started in watch-making
- Mies van der Rohe: Started as a brick-mason
The list could go on and on...
In facts, I personally see it as desirable that both architecture and design to open - especially to emerging fields:
Areas of growth
For my company MakerBay, I have to prepare a 5 years proposal to develop educational content. We are trying to propose something for the 63% of the students that don't make it to university in Hong Kong. I think a territory like Hong Kong should have a higher percentage enrolled in higher education - or offer them alternatives that lead to the best jobs.
Reading many reports, we found that these key emerging areas will define the jobs of the future in Hong Kong:
1. Greater Bay Development Plan 2. AI 3. Fintech 4. Biotech (including neuro and health technologies) 5. Nanotech 6. Robotics 7. Automation 8. IOT 9. Drones 10. Self-driving tech 11. Aging population technology 12. Greentech (technologies related to global warming) 13. Low carbon food production 14. Space technology