I truly believe creativity is innate in every human being, and it needs to be cultivated. My approach to teaching is grounded in how creativity influences social development, innovation, and progress. I base my teaching on the most essential principles of design thinking, where process, prototyping, user-centered design, and empathy play an important role. They complement any conceptual and communicational necessity, giving students the opportunity to develop solutions with a central purpose and a defined direction. Design students should be exposed to multiple disciplines and areas of study, leveraging collaborative problem-solving.
With assignments and projects, my intent is to challenge students and take them out of their comfort zones, where strategic planning, as well as attention to detail, are vital. This is because I believe that the development and application of different design research methods (with a focus on ethnography, communication theories and audience studies), are the perfect complement to compelling, effective and elegant visual solutions.
Students should experiment and take risks in order to expand their creative abilities. By teaching students to look outside their contexts and integrating creative methods into their research activities, they learn how to respond to culture-specific communication needs. This supports their understanding about the value of design in society, and how it can actively change people’s lives and improve systems and methods. For this reason, I urge them to design for the world, not in a vacuum—only for and with their design peers or for themselves.
To accomplish this, I encourage students to be open to criticism and to respect all points of view and opinions, while learning how to support and present their own ideas and concepts. I also foster the importance of ideation and concept development on paper, where the possibilities of sketching, drafting, and production of fast ideas in a chaos/order mode are wider and more flexible. To do this, I expect my students to keep journals, process books, and archives of their personal progress always on hand, to expand their personal work references and to better understand their own design dynamic processes.
The incorporation of modern and historic documentation, readings, and bibliographic materials to support students’ design efforts are imperative in my teaching practice.
This variety of resources inform the students about current discourse, while becoming knowledgeable of design history, principles, practices, and terminology. I actively incorporate many kinds of media, including social media, video/audio, podcasts, blogging, and interactive media. I have found blogging really empowering, allowing the students to become part of academic communities, where problem-solving, collaboration, critique, and exchange of resources are constant and extremely helpful.
Once the students end their semester, I expect them to have a better and more profound understanding of how design, culture, and society relate and inter-connect. Having the necessary technical/artistic skills and a complete grasp of research and independent concept development, will make them competent design professionals, authors of content and creative thinkers.