…about Design

Design; the glue that binds design & technology education together or the elusiveness that causes it to fall apart? Is it really too difficult for most pupils as some claim or is it that we don’t give them the time they need to develop their own effective approaches?

Design Revolution iconDesign Revolution 100 products that empower people by Emily Pilloton published in 2009 by Metropolis Book “Empowering people” says it all echoing Pilloton’s bon mot, “Design can change the world.”


Glimmer iconGlimmer by Warren Berger published in 2009 by Random House A wonderful set of definitions of design on page 29




Massive Change iconMassive Change by Bruce Mau and the Institute without Boundaries published in 2004 by Phaidon Press Full of wonderful ideas encapsulated in simple phrases. “For most of us, design is invisible. Until it fails”. And “Cycle to cycle: Instead of disposing of waste, think about how to use it as an input. The goal is no waste at all. Apply the intelligence of nature to human needs. Waste=food”.


What Designers Know  iconWhat designers know by Bryan Lawson published in 2004 by Elsevier Great insight into designing. We especially like the idea that designers use a much more solution focused approach than scientists … and … it is the very nature of design problems that makes such a strategy sensible.


Hot to Cold iconHot to Cold: An Odyssey of Architectural Adaptation by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) published by Taschen in 2015. I’m a huge fan of  Bjarke Ingels’ architecture – the fact that he’s Danish is, of course, immaterial…. This book (produced for an exhibition of the same name at the National Building Museum in Washington DC earlier this year) provides an overview of around 60 of BIG’s projects, some built, others in progress and some speculative, ordered by the temperature of the climate where the work is set. What I like about this is that it provides really clear descriptions of the design thinking that led the group to some really very radical building designs.  I think these could be used as design case studies with pupils as a well as the book being a great D&T design reference. For those who prefer their information in comic book forms, an earlier work by BIG, Yes is More: An Archicomic on Architectural Evolution, covers some of the same territory.

The Art of Critical Making iconThe Art of Critical Making: Rhode Island School of Design on Creative Practice by John Maeda, Rosanne Somerson and Mara Hermano, published in 2013 by John Wiley. This collection of essays by and interviews with members of the staff teaching at the highly regarded Rhode Island School of Design (RSID) ranges widely across material contexts and approaches to teaching design and making. But running through the book is the idea that making should be a critical activity and that design education should encourage deep thoughtfulness and a questioning attitude to such things as the materials being used, the purposes of this use, the needs of people impacted by the designing and making and social and environmental impacts. It shouldn’t be a surprise that these are seen as important in design education, but the value of this book lies in the descriptions of the learning experiences enjoyed by students at RSID, many of which, it seems to me could be applied to school-level education as well. Also of interest is the broad emphasis on the importance of the embodied learning that arise from physical interaction with materials; computers certainly don’t seem to be banned at RSID, but neither is their use privileged.

Design as Art iconDesign as Art by Bruno Munari, this edition published 2008 by Penguin (original published in 1966). Munari was an influential Italian designer of the 20th century and in this series of short pieces he explores not only the relationship of Design to Art but also the place of design in society under the broad areas of Stylists, Visual Design, Graphic Design, Industrial Design and Research Design. He is a thoughtful and humourous writer and a number of his chapters (along with the copious drawings that accompany them) could form the basis for activities that will get pupils in D&T thinking more deeply about design.


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