Asian Influence on European Educational Design Practices
Simon Bolton, MDes (RCA), FRSA, Course Director Product Design | Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design, London, UK, Managing Director, Bolton Associates
The paper explores and discusses the opportunities and challenges faced by product design education and the potential influence Asian manufacturing clients will have on the effectiveness of our educational provision from a European perspective.
As Asia establishes itself as one of the key global manufacturing hubs fulfilling both local and international demand, the use and demand for high quality design from major Asian manufactures’ brands is increasing. Competition is furious within the region for design supremacy. Most key Asian brands actively seek to use European and North American design expertise perceived to be driven by contextual-based research and reflective design practice.
As Asian manufacturers fight for design supremacy, what impact will this have on regions where their manufacturing bases are constantly diminishing and subsequently, what will it mean for design education in those areas? This paper discusses the impact of reducing product design timescales and how this pressure will influence our long-term approaches to product design education in Europe. The paper also explores potential future design scenarios and the possible roles our graduates will undertake within these scenarios based on the potential impact of China as a global dominant manufacturing hub.
The paper will discuss the perceived strengths and weaknesses of both European and Asian design practices and share insights gained through first hand experience of working within an academic, industry and professional design context in Asia, in particular Korea, Singapore, and Japan. The paper will discuss the implications of issues through cases study examples that will highlight opportunities as well the challenges facing design education.
The paper will conclude by highlighting how our local approaches to design can be positively influenced by the exchange of ideas and cultural approaches to the same practice and how design educational practices will need to evolve in order to remain relevant to students, industry and professional practice within a global design context.