FROM LEARNING TO EARNING™ AT NTU
Perhaps the most stimulating and enjoyable aspect of the CSD Course Endorsement Programme (CEP) is being able to converse with the students on the accredited courses. This interaction is what the professional body for design is all about. Inspiring design students to enter their career in design with the highest possible regard for professional practice, encouraging them to continually develop their competences, pointing out some of the pitfalls and how to overcome some of the hurdles and above all relating to them how satisfying a career in design is.
On 15 February, Nigel Morris MCSD, Chris Radcliff MA FCSD and Frank Peters – the Society’s Chief Executive – found themselves in front of over 100 design students at Nottingham Trent University for just such an interaction.
The afternoon kicked off with a brief introduction by Frank as to the history of CSD, its role within the design sector and the support offered to designers at all stages of their career, ‘From Learning to Earning’™ the title of the event and a phrase that is synonymous with the work of the Society in support of design education.
Frank informed the students of all of the benefits on offer to them as Student Members of the Society, something that is offered free of charge to all students on a CSD Accredited course, and especially about their access to a wealth of experience on offer from professional designers comprising the CSD membership internationally and from across all design disciplines. He challenged them to take full advantage of this and especially today when they would have every opportunity to draw on the experience of todays’ speakers.
Nigel was first up and gave an introduction as to the work of Arup involving: building design, civil engineering and much broader consultancy and design – including acoustic engineering. He particularly noted that Sir Ove Nyquist Arup, CBE, MICE, MIStructE, FCIOB had a vision when founding the company, which had been the ‘philosophy’ throughout, in working and collaborating with the widest range of other professionals in order to provide building solutions. As Nigel pointed out, the way to success is to be open to all other disciplines, something clearly at the heart of the Society in encompassing members from all disciplines.
He followed by giving an overview of Visual Communications at Arup including design for publications, exhibitions, events, interactive and video drawing and how all of these activities fitted into the overall mission of Arup.
Not content with just showing students examples of the work carried out by his team, which included websites, brochures and publicity material, Nigel wanted to get across to the students what it was like to work in a team, with other designers, within industry and what it meant to the designers concerned. To illustrate this he had asked members of the team what they would like to say to design students based on their experiences. They were insightful and you could see the students rapidly scribbling them down.
‘Stay open to learning’ Nikki Prosser, designer, Glasgow.
‘The only thing that will prevent you from getting a job is if you give up designing or give up improving your portfolio and applying for jobs’ Eddie Ion, designer, Bristol.
‘I had to put in a lot of hours outside of my full-time non-design job to continue to develop my skills and keep my portfolio updated and current’ Rebecca Millican, assistant designer, Newcastle.
‘Sometimes it is less about pretty design and more about managing and understanding client’s expectations’ Lisa Solovieva, designer, London.
‘What seems scary at first soon becomes natural’ Luke Powell, assistant designer, Bristol.
Following on from Nigel’s words of wisdom (and the team at Arup), Chris related his own design journey ‘From Learning to Earning’.
Chris was from a farming family and from a school where his choice of career would have been one of three ‘F’s. Farming, Factory or Forces. Luckily, thanks to a chance encounter with a college professor, he embarked upon a fourth F, a Foundation course in Nantwich followed coincidentally by studying interior design at what was then Nottingham Trent Polytechnic where he stood giving his talk.
Details of Chris’s journey can be found in a previous CSD Blog – Members Profile: Christopher Radcliffe MA FCSD
Chris related how as a designer you need to deal with both ups and downs, including the highs of successful international projects and the lows of redundancy.
Of great surprise to Chris was learning that one of the things that inspired him most, ‘The Art of Looking Sideways’ (Phaidon) by the late and great Alan Fletcher FCSD was actually the annual CEP Prize awarded to a selected student from each of the CSD Accredited courses (pictured below).
He illustrated his talk with examples of work carried out for Speedo, Centre Parcs and Manchester United, whilst at the same time recounting the variety and sort of clients you might meet and encouraging the students to soak up as much experience as possible in dealing with others.
Chris offered a final thought to the students before sitting down which was that as designers they would be providing a bridge between what had gone before and what the future would be and as such are key influencers, requiring the exercise of professional responsibility. This was perfectly illustrated by his work for Derby College in which he transformed a heritage 19th Century railway roundhouse into an arts and event centre future-proofing the building.
It was then over to the students to tap into getting on for 100 years of design practice experience in front of them.
Once the ice was broken with the first question the questions just flowed and resulted in discussion which included:
‘How do designers become aware of and experience new materials?’
‘What are the opportunities for designer/makers?’
‘Do you think there are too many design courses?’
‘What is the difference in working freelance or in a practice or being employed?’
‘How do you protect yourself?’
‘How did you manage to get your first job?’
‘How do you see the international aspects of design, cross cultural working and what does the Society do?’
‘The meaning and value of Intellectual Property’
And of course, the Brexit question, on which all three speakers commented.
The speakers commented that the questions were particularly probing but noted that they are never asked about designers pay, remuneration, earnings, etc! The afternoon just flew and would have easily continued a lot longer, but it was left to a tutor to find an appropriate pause in which to bring the proceedings to a close and to have the final word:
The guest speakers were great. Very personable and open with encouraging stories to tell about their design careers. They also spoke of the importance of persistence if you don’t get the first job you apply for and how to make yourself stand out from the crowd by having a personal hook in your portfolio to get people talking in interview situations.
The answers and the ensuing discussion cannot be fully reported in this blog but if you want to host such an event and are studying on a CSD Accredited course then talk to a member of staff or contact CSD firstname.lastname@example.org . You will get your chance to hear from experienced design professionals, ask the burning questions and get the answers.
And don’t forget to ask about the ‘earning’ as well as the ‘learning’!