Design and craft - a changing relationship at the heart of design education

Jyri Kermik

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


This paper draws on recent developments in pedagogic innovation for design education at the University of Brighton, UK. With a focus on the merger of the two previously distinct discipline areas of Design and Craft, it explores how curriculum strategies evolved as part of a broader analysis of transformations taking place around the design educational landscape and specifically, within industry. Extending beyond the context of local discipline-specific identities and the opportunities identified for pedagogic innovation, models were identified which could be articulated across and ultimately shared between design and craft teaching, learning and research. This paper will consider this work, but also the other side of the spectrum, which is to synchronise the ambitions of design education with emerging developments in other disciplines (both creative and scientific) and the creative industries. Underpinning the pedagogic developments is the awareness that contemporary design evolves from the intersection of different disciplines and technologies. Indeed, current definitions of the relationship between design, craft and industry denote synthesis as a key characteristic. The identities of designer, artist and artisan are becoming fluid; and the same goes for industrial, digital and craft technologies that transform practices, reflecting emerging value systems and patterns of consumption, as well as changes in the processes of designing and making objects. Design and craft have brought new ideas and collaborative partnerships to a common field. The disciplines themselves have changed thanks to this symbiosis, and their underlying principles and values are now increasingly adopted by the part of the design world that deals mainly with industrial production. This conjunction offers the opportunity to create hitherto unseen combinations of materials, techniques and technologies supporting product innovation, regeneration of urban or rural environments, digital tools and sustainable development. The transition from analogue technology and means of communication to the seemingly endless autonomy of the digital domain causes fundamental changes in both the influence design has as well as how its role is interpreted in society. There is an opportunity to redesign design process(es), but also to rethink the role of design education, and to devise educational models capable of keeping up and pro-actively engaging with manufacturing, where out-dated production chains are being replaced by new sequences and rules. This paper argues that one of the most interesting and important tasks of contemporary art education is to explain and define the range and limits of the blurred fields of design and craft in the context of social priorities. It argues for a better understanding of the meaning of objects in relation to a current international debate in design and craft concerned with the tradition and the future of making. The main aim of the Design and Craft curriculum at Brighton is to create a model that would make it possible to (re)discover partly lost and invisible ties, and offer a variety of professional opportunities. For that we have created transparency in pedagogical methods and a synthesis of discipline-specific processes and techniques.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDesign Education Asia Conference 2012
Place of PublicationHong Kong
PublisherThe Hong Kong Polytechnical University
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2012
EventDesign Education Asia Conference 2012 - Hong Kong Design Institute, 4-5 December 2012
Duration: 4 Dec 2012 → …


ConferenceDesign Education Asia Conference 2012
Period4/12/12 → …

Bibliographical note

© Jüri Kermik 2012


  • Design
  • Craft
  • Education
  • Digital
  • Technology


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