As much as I like to root industrial design — or any design in general, to be for the benefit of the masses, I just don’t want to invest 100% of my time to design something for others’ benefit to the chagrin of myself. Honestly, if I’m not excited about my own designs, what’s the point in designing it in the first place? Most of my creativity stems not from assignment or some drivers from higher-ups, but from self-governed tasks and spontaneous ideas. Walk through the streets and inspired by a vine branch twisting around concrete, in hopes of devouring the little light the jungle of technology has to offer? Bam. A coffee cup. Eating ramen in a cold, desolate wasteland that is Canadian winter? Whoosh. A collapsible stool. But sitting in front of a computer with a long list of drivers given by a head-designer? Blurp. 12 hours down the drain looking at designs on Pinterest.
But most importantly, allowing a designer to dictate their own projects can help cultivate their potential. That’s right. I think lots of designers are missing a crucial element in becoming a better designer, me included: not enough volume. Volume in both breadth and depth, to be exact. In most design schools, how many projects are produced per-semester? 3 maximum and lesser as years go by? Why are schools deliberately holding creativity back? The main culprit: heavy non-design related workload. Dunno how to solve it, but design students should be making as much design as possible.
My guess? Some projects assigned by the department, and some self-dictated work. Or unifying the program so all program-related courses flow neatly together, so students won’t feel too much stress at irregular intervals. If the students are happy with their designs and have lots to showcase to their employer, the more likely they’ll get a job. So certain projects that are no-good for portfolios should be shredded and replaced with a better project assignment.
Because before they know it, school’s gonna be over, and their portfolio will be barren, comparable to the tundra in Nunavut.