Tonight was the first class of the Fall semester. One of the indicators of a good class session is that during my drive home, I only half-hear the podcast I’m listening to. My mind is too occupied with the evening’s events. I critique my performance, consider the responses of my students, mull over all the possibilities the semester holds, and begin making plans for the next week.
We kicked things off by watching Objectified. Then I introduced the class to Kickstarter and Quirky, completely new to many of them. From the responses I observed, I’m betting there is a lot of digestion happening tonight. I’m going to be shining a light on design entrepreneurship, and I’m hoping that some of the students will go as far as to initiate Kickstarter campaigns.
Here’s the description of the course from my syllabus:
“Innovation” is currently one of the biggest buzz words in business, and where there is discussion of innovation, there is typically mention of design or “Design Thinking”. Articles have appeared in business oriented publications making declarations such as “The MFA is the New MBA” (Harvard Business Review), or describing “the emergence of the design economy” (Fast Company). BusinessWeek and Fast Company both have sections devoted to design. Major universities have begun integrating their design and business programs with participation from major design firms—Stanford’s d.school for example. And while this “movement” is several years old, the most recent trend is the rise of the designer entrepreneur. Organizations like Kickstarter are giving designers the opportunity to realize their ideas without having to sell out to a large corporation to get them funded. Designers are now cited as key components of successful startups, as well as a competitive edge for established companies.
But what kind of design are they referring to? What training must a designer possess to participate in the field’s current popularity? What qualities of design lend it to innovation?
This course will provide you the opportunity to explore the design process as it applies to innovation. We’ll learn from the successes of firms like IDEO, one of the most notable design firms operating today, and study the writing of Don Norman, one of the world’s foremost thinkers on the subject. We will apply what we learn, taking a product from conception and research to a final design and prototype, and potentially a campaign to fund further work.
At the end of the semester, you will have a broader understanding of the potential of design to affect change in the world, a deeper understanding of proven, problem-solving methods, and an appreciation of the current climate for design entrepreneurship.