In all the places I have met students of art and design over the past twenty years, in Helsinki, London, Oxford, Paris, Delft, Warsaw, Berlin, Naples, Bangalore, Sydney, Brisbane and here in the USA, the desire is tangible; for design education to move out of the shadow of the gross consumer business model and to really address the diversity of transferable skills needed by the informed designer of the 21st century. The evidence surrounds us of a dysfunctional material culture, yet in our immediate future we really do have the potential and real techniques to move beyond this; to inhabit the materials we are dependent upon, and not merely deploy them. In the context of our vision for materials, Buckminster Fuller observed that an ‘important idea’ for society took 25 years to register with people, and that a ‘really important idea’ took 50 years. He said that in 1974, so we are well into the 50-year span he was thinking of.
Learning from nature (from our own nature as well as from the ‘other’ natures) is essential if we are to grasp the co-dependency at the heart of a living ecology. Although it is true that nature needs only half a chance to draw breath and recover the living imperative at it’s core, it is half a chance we still have to give it. This applies both internally and externally. Multiple single voices add up to steps we may take in a different direction; away from the exploitative and the empty, and towards a socially constructed material culture; a culture in which the question “Who pays, and who gains?” is more transparently answerable.
‘Hi-Res’ is a grassroots event. Real design of a humanistic nature is a grassroots process, and a good position to be in for the design schools of the future is to continue to seek ways to nurture this emergent paradigm.