IAT 233 Instructor: Russell Taylor
Teaching Assistants: Paul Brokenshire + Leah Maestri + Maryam Haghighat Kashani
Fall 2010 term
SETTING THE STAGE
This, for many of you, will be the first course (or second) you have taken a course solely dedicated to design as
studio-based subject. Many of you, like those who have come before you, come into this class not knowing
what design even is or does. This course will begin to change that for you. By the time you leave this class in 14 weeks,
you will begin to know and hopefully love design. Many of you will, in this time, decide that it is your life’s
work. For some of you this may or will be a turning point -this has been reported to me numerous times by past
students. For me that’s a pretty cool process to be a part of.
Knowing what you “want to be” is very powerful.
Some of you will leave this course knowing clearly that you want to be “a designer”. Or that you see how design works
and how effective it is and how you can integrate it with other things you are already doing, or know how to do. Some
of you will need more time to decide. Some of you will know that this is NOT it!! That’s valuable to know. A course
like this ought to be a form a diagnostic tool: help you decide and narrow the filed, so that you can make choices about
your career and educational direction. I believe that design is worth considering, and that (based on my years seeing the
industry change), design is a growth field with lots of opportunity and challenging, important work. No matter how you
come at it, if you work hard, this course will be valuable and rewarding to you. As you move on in SIAT, selecting a
focus in 3rd year, this design course will form the backbone of an approach, no matter what you aspire to.
Even for those who find that design is not their future, these people will take from this course ways of thinking
and skills that you will and can use in virtually any field. The vast majority will leave this course and feel that it was
worthwhile, if not one of the better classes they have taken to date in their education careers. I am pleased by this
feedback. It is one of my life’s goals in fact: that you do, and that you have learned. I am a teacher, and this is my
course. I want you to LOVE this course and hopefully love this field, my field, as well. I am pretty sure that you will.
Students in industry still write me to say that they use the ideas they learned here every day in their jobs. And some of
you will too.
How can I be so confident of this outcome?
History of success.
This course in a few guises has been running consecutively for 12 years already (at TechBC and then at SFU). This will
be the 15th time I have run the course. If you don’t know, I have been teaching here for 11 years, at this campus,
teaching this course, in a program somewhat like what we have now. I was one of the original faculty who formed this
If YOU went straight from high school to full-time post-secondary studies the chances are pretty good that I first ran
this course here when you were in grade 1 or 2. That’s how long this course has been successfully operating and how
long a fledgling Interaction Design program has been running here. That’s how long students like you have been
learning this material, graduating and moving onto successful careers in industry.
During this time, NINE full cohort classes have graduated from this program at SFU, with a University degree and with
a specialty in Interaction Design/ Interactive Arts. These students are now successfully working in industry in a variety
of capacities. Others from these groups have begun and completed Masters degrees in this subject at this campus during
this time. So, no matter how much change has been going on around here, we have been successfully operating this
program as the core of study, long before you arrived. In fact it has been one of the most successful parts of this total
operation to date. I want you to know that, to know that you are walking into something good, successful and tried and
tested. You are, in this class, not part of an experiment. Remember that so that you can trust the process enough to
We will get even better, my goal is always to improve and to stay current and to constantly “move it forward” for
future groups. I also believe that you are entering this program at a good time. Many of the key, final foundations of the
program having now been laid into place in this school, The School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT), at
Simon Fraser University (SFU).
You are a part of something - with a proud legacy and a very bright future. And you should approach your work here
with the respect it deserves.
Before coming here I taught in the best Design programs in this province. I was at Emily Carr’s School of Design
(Industrial Design, Communication Design, Critical Studies and Architecture) for four years, I taught in the design
programs at Kwantlen University College (Graphic Design, Interior Architecture), and Langara (Multimedia + Design).
This is my fifteenth year of full-time post-secondary teaching. My undergraduate work was completed at UBC (Art +
Architectural History), and my Graduate work was in two UBC Masters degree programs, the first in Urban,
Architectural + Design History and Theory and the second in design practice in The School of Architecture at UBC.
My specialty research areas are Strategic Innovation and in Contemporary Italian Design Studies.
I am the Director of the ItaliaDesign Field School (which operates from SIAT) annually in which this part of my work
and research is most directly explored. You can see my work, and that of my team at http://www.sfu.ca/italiadesign.
This selective-entry program is worth 12 credits of SIAT electives that you all can apply to participate in. I will provide
information later in the term on this topic to those interested in more information.
I have also worked as a practicing designer in Architecture, Design-Build, Communication Design, Graphics, Brand
Management and Marketing. Most of you will go on to working in industry. I have done this also and understand what
it takes to get opportunities there, what it is like. I am not just an academic.
I have also taught virtually every kind of design there is: architectural design, furniture design, graphic design,
communication design, information design, industrial design, interior design, typographic design, urban design, and of
course; interaction design. I teach DESIGN, more than any branch or brand of it. I believe that if you can “design” you
can design anything.
I believe that this broad background is central to my teaching approach and I strive to provide the undergraduate
student with exposure to interdisciplinary design practices. Indeed, I feel that my strength is in exposing you to
different modes of “design”, causing you to think of it as “an interdisciplinary way of thinking” and providing you with
sound “thinking strategies” and “context” within which to locate your further studies in Interaction Design at the more
senior and focused levels. Why? Because: Better thinking makes better design. And Design is not a thing. It’s worth
MUCH more than that. Design today has changed and though you need focus, you need an iterative, diverse approach
even more. This is what I want you to begin to understand from this course..
So for now, most of you will be coming into this class, not really sure what design is, what interaction design is, what
we specialize in here, whether there are any jobs in this field. That’s an OK place to begin. My promise is that when
you leave you will have a MUCH better idea. In fact, I will begin answering some of those questions provisionally
below. We will over the coming weeks try to begin to answer all of these questions for you. So in the meantime, thank
you for having faith in us enough to take a chance. I can promise that will be rewarded.
What this outline will go through now is the structure for the learning and learning scaffolds in place to ensure your
success. BUT: before I go on - up front you need to know that my courses are very demanding. DON’T Take that
lightly. Choose carefully whether that is acceptable to you. Don’t complain about it later. You were warned! The
projects each week will take a LOT of time and demand a lot of you. If this is not OK, just don’t take the course at this
time. Make a mature decision and then be mature enough to accept the outcome of your choices. You DO NOT in any
way HAVE TO take this course at this time. Get the EDUCATION and stop worrying about completing credits fast. In
my opinion education should not be rushed. In my experience at this level there are just too many students still floating
through their education. You will not be able to do that with this course. It will challenge you in order to take your
work to a new level.
A few key thoughts: or how to succeed in this class
This promise will not be handed to you however. What’s your motivation?
You will have to earn it. My job is to ensure that you do. MY job, as I see it at this level is to get your work ethic,
the level up to a standard that can be consistently met by you, and improving consistently from year two to year four. If
we don’t get you into this cycle now, by mid-third year it is too late. You need to do this to truly take advantage of the
opportunity that education offers you. You have to wake up at some point and see the amazing opportunity here. But,
conversely, it is you who have to ignite that passion and you who have to find the ongoing motivation. High School for
many people is not about this: they are either not challenged or not inspired. I’ll do both here. High School also often
fails because it is focused only on the curriculum, not the student and individual. Many University courses fail here
also. If you can’t find your own motivations, then you will find these courses could outweigh the rest of the experience.
This is a mistake.
And, this course may not be for everyone. Not everyone is going to like working with me, is that not natural?? That is
OK. Just as not everyone is going to like me, or you. But just make sure that it’s not because you didn’t find your own
motivation for being in University in the first place. Spend the year if you don’t already have one, developing a
provisional end-goal, one that can change, but provides a target that you are working toward. Having one gives you a
reason and the work becomes easier and more meaningful. You have to find your own motivation.
You can OUTWORK your competition and impress people who hire with your seriousness of purpose if not your
portfolio of work. This portfolio is important: it shows what you know and what you are capable of. The best places to
work get hundreds if not thousands of applications a year - you have to stand out. That work begins now. If nothing
else, until you find your path, let that motivate you. And as we will discuss below, NOT grades, which mean little.
As will become clear in the course that you take with me here at SIAT: I come from a position that you need not refer
to yourself as a designer, etc. those are job titles. You are a “creative”, a creative worker and as such you are central to
massive shifts going on in the world, in which creativity and creative work will play a central role and for which you
should be well-compensated. To some degree: right place, right time. Emergent discipline and opportunities.
So, what we do now, and in the next 14 weeks WILL affect your future prospects well
into the future.
And directly in response to these needs, this class will be VERY demanding. That’s WHY it will be
demanding and that’s how we can justify such hard work. Because doing so will put you in the middle of beginning to
see this new world of opportunities for yourself. That’s worth working hard for 14 weeks for.
Project work is due EVERY week. Fall behind and you will be in trouble by week 4-5.
Juggling this course with others will be challenging. Consider taking less than a full load if you are not an ace
student. Education is not a race. Leave here with the opportunity to get hired where you
want: that’s should be your goal. You DO NOT have to take a full load every term, and you DO NOT have
to go through as fast as you can. The “degree” you receive will be a mere piece of paper, hardly worth what it’s printed
The clock starts ticking now. In the next three years we you and I, and you and this program, have to make something
of you or your job prospects are not good. You HAVE to stand out. You do that with excellence and RIGOUR.
And excellence is a habit. The habit starts TODAY. Develop the habits, the grades will follow. Develop the portfolio
and the mindset, and so will the opportunities.
So if during the term you find yourself asking, “why is this course so hard?”. This is the answer.
This is NOT high school. It’s design school.
It’s a way of thinking.
Design and design school is a way of working, and it’s a way of thinking. Go to any one and you find this. Go to the
best and you are sure to. Do you want to go to a mediocre school or the best?
And best of all, if we ALL raise our work to this level then we push and motivate each other consistently to do our best
work and the school becomes a hot-house environment where people from around the world want to come to study -
and they are: SIAT has completed exchange agreements with two of the best design schools in the world, Malmo
University, Sweden and Politecnico di Milano Italy. Their students are amongst us, here in Surrey every fall and our
students go there in Winter term. We set these programs up so that you would have the best opportunities and resources
to succeed). I coordinate both of these exchanges and would love for you to go the other way and study in Europe for a
term. Maybe that’s your goal. Think about it. Think big. Be a part of thinking big. Let’s ALL think big.
If you don’t want to: that’s cool, but go I’d really suggest you go elsewhere. My “way of thinking” is that we can
create the best design school in Canada, and I’m jazzed about being a part of that. The great Cranbrook Design school
in Detroit used to be referred to as the “hot-house”. I like that.
Welcome to the Hot House!!
So, that’s why also.
If you are used to coasting through classes: believe me, you won’t be able to
in this one. This is not high school. There may be other programs, other courses where you can coast: this is NOT
one of them. So, before you begin the course, decide: in or out.
I’m serious about this. This is not a box to check of in the program or a menu item you are selecting. My way of doing
things is weed out those who keep us all back by not being serious of purpose, then we can work together, having
agreed that we will all do it. By about week 2-3 this process is mostly complete (though some still stay despite the
warnings. And first off, these people probably don’t even read the outline, so I will go through it in class and then keep
reminding for a few weeks to try to make sure they hear the message). So it’s at that point that those of you who
DON’T need such warnings will stop hearing them. If that’s you: please understand, I am not haranguing you, I am
creating an environment for excellence for you to work in and excel.
So what if you are not serious enough at this time to do a course like this?
Hey, it’s OK! No hard feelings. But make a choice, a decision and don’t just float along. First off: there ARE programs
in which you won’t have to work quite so hard. When our students do their electives in other areas of SFU: they often
observe that a. the workload is ridiculously lighter, and b. that the ideas are much more banal.
If you ARE at SFU to just get a degree finished and go: fine. But go to another program, seriously, save yourself the
grief. No hard feelings. But if you stay, we expect your best. We expect maturity. Same with this course. If, for
whatever reason, you don’t feel like working this hard or you are lazy by nature, or just or not motivated to build your
portfolio and work level to compete out there: don’t take the class right now, take it when you want to work. Or choose
another program. You are in a HUGE university with many, many opportunities and programs. There are OTHER
universities and programs in this city, let alone elsewhere. This is NOT the only one.
This is my expectation: that you will CHOOSE one or the other. If you don’t want to work, I will not chase you, I will
Will it be worth it if you work hard and stick? Virtually guaranteed. Ask any of the students who have taken this class
before. And while you’re at it, ask them what to expect, what not to worry about, what not to do. But make a CLEAR
decision: in or out. And once in, expect it will be hard work and just do the work. Just get on with it.
FIRST PRINCIPLES of
(or: why is this course structured the way it is)
1. knowledge is work that inspires.
This course is not for the faint of heart. It is a lot of work and will stretch you. In return, I promise you, you will learn
a great deal and will enjoy the course. But if you are not prepared to work hard and be stretched, don’t take it. On the
other hand, sometimes students float around in a University program or a school looking what fits them, or to get
inspired. That’s real. We all have to find our place. It took me a few years in university to find my path. It’s natural and
takes some time.
But that is another reason to work hard here: because WORK THAT INSPIRES US IS EASY TO DO. In some weird
way, even though it’s hard, we enjoy it. Because we see the value in it, see our results, enjoy the challenge. TOO
MANY COURSES DON’T CHALLENGE, BUT FEWER STILL INSPIRE the student. I think that they should,
always. I want you to enjoy my course the most. I hope that this course WILL inspire you.
This I know: Most people WILL work hard when inspired. That’s another reason why I do it this
way. I WANT this to be the course you like and the to be the teacher that gets you to learn and the course that you
remember. Maybe Tech One or your previous program didn’t inspire you. Being inspired as a student is important.
Knowledge and learning SHOULD inspire us. In my 12 years of post-secondary, I can
count on one hand the number of great teachers I had. Why is that? Same in high school?
Probably the same for you.
TEACHING SHOULD INSPIRE!!! I believe that if I’m NOT inspiring you, I’m not doing my job. AND if
my students are inspired, they as we said above, enjoy the work, and the work becomes a labor of love.
This course may very well inspire you. You will be proud of what you produce in it and what new
employable and creative skills and abilities it gives you. So, best advice…stay open. First couple of weeks may be hard
because it will ALL be new, but it will start to even out for most of you by mid-term if you keep at it. But, expect to
work hard, to be frustrated at times and know that hundreds have gone before you, and they figured it out. And you will
too. I wrote the course, so that you could and would. So as you struggle and want to scream, cry or kick something at
3am trying to finish one of these projects, which others went through this and survived., just remember: It will be
worth it. Nothing really good comes easy. Looking for easy is immature.
2. what is “design”? or what do I mean by “design”?
This is a DESIGN course. Design is a distinct way of thinking. It is THIS which you are truly learning in
the course. It is the TRUE outcome of the course, learning this way of working and thinking. It is a new way of
thinking, so it will be hard at first, just as anything new and worth doing is. It is likely that most of you have done very
little thinking and work in the way you will learn here, so I ask you to learn this way and not be tempted to default and
try to bring in ways of working that you know from other areas and approaches. It just won’t work. If you have done
design: of course, bring what you know and learn what I can add. In last year’s class, only about 2-3 people had such
knowledge. But otherwise, the old tricks won’t work here. For example: this is not an art course. Art is a good and
laudable thing, but it’s aims and goals are usually very different from design’s. Eventually design without art is a poor
thing. Put together: that’s my favorite kind. But first you have to learn to approach the work is a
designer. Art is usually relative and thus can’t be assessed objectively. Your way may be equally is correct as what
the course is trying to teach. That won’t help here. Art is most often for yourself or about yourself. Design is not.
Design ALWAYS has an audience and a client. The projects have been written so that they have to be done by you and
so that it will easy to see if you are working at it. You can’t fake it in this course, nor can you copy. You have to do the
work and you will not do well if you don’t.
Design is a way of thinking that must be learned. It is much less subjective and personal than much
art. In Interactive Arts, those of us who founded this program worked from the belief that the range of processes and
working methodologies makes for a more holistic graduate and creative individual. So be very clear that the art
approach is valued in this course and the program, but it is time to learn something new.
Another subject you know that is “like” design is computing, which has it’s own logic and imperatives. But, though
some will want to claim it, in my view computing is not design either. And simply for this reason: design begins always
from a process that does not assume the end result and then uses a process to evolve the work which is intentionally
iterative. Most computing solutions are not iterative and linear in process. Their outcomes thus are vastly different.
Now in the industry of interaction design the best practitioners can do BOTH. For the best opportunities you WILL
need to program and you will need to be broadly capable with software, and in my classes you will do those things too.
But computing, in my view is NOT design. Every course needs to have an internal logic to succeed and often required
its own lexicon as words are used in different places in different ways. Here I am defining what I mean by design. This
isn’t the definitive answer: it my approach and the approach of designers working professionally whose work I find
analogous to my own.
Most of you will really have had no previous exposure to what design is. That’s then our first job: what is
How about this for a start:
i. Designers are people who have honed their ability to make many small mistakes in a
ii. Designers mine raw bits of tomorrow. They shape them for the present day. Designers
act as gatekeepers between status quo objects and objects from the time to come.
Consider these definitions as way of understanding the terrain we will be in for the term IN THIS COURSE.
It is my intention at this moment to signal to you that you will need to engage a paradigm shift in your
thinking in this course, as design is much less relativistic in its approach than art. Most people who teach design also
do it in the art paradigm. Design is not relative in it’s outcome. Your opinion or feelings about the work will not
determine its success. Communication Design (what we will start with in the first few weeks of this course), for
example, either communicates or it does not. If you were hired to communicate and you did what you like, that is not
good enough. So: can the objective criteria by which design’s success can be evaluated? Even measured? Yes. You
CANNOT measure art. That’s a shift. Most if not all of you will find that a new idea. But perhaps more importantly,
more urgently, DESIGN IS NOT ALL TECHNOLOGY. Or merely TECHNOLOGY, either. Technology-driven design
is empty and actually destructive to the world and its social systems.
We are here going to study design for a SOCIAL space. What WORKS in good social space and how to design that
INTO technology projects, because by and large they aren’t there now. Maybe that’s the biggest value in this course as
there is so much focus on technology in the rest of this school. Computing without people and the realities of how they
live is in my opinion, at the very least incomplete. “Interaction design” that does not include this imperative is not
worth doing in my opinion.
A major distinction in this course is to challenge, augment and succeed functionalist
“design” thinking which dominates the computing industry and the design industry today
and to graduate learners capable of high-level management thinking skills that can bring
design thinking, methods and processes to business to make the world a better place. We
are interested in designing with and for people, not designing stuff.
A more humane and sustainable world as it is affected by technology and computing specifically is our goal.
3. YOU in this equation.
I’ve been teaching post-secondary for a long time and my former students are extremely successful. I’d like to
share with you what YOU need to do, not just what I or the course or the program or the school or the
university will do FOR YOU.
My best and only advice at this point to all of you:
Your University years are ones to be enjoyed for all of their experiences, including the social ones, the friends, the
parties even. Enjoy that. It’s in many ways the best years of our lives. But, don’t let the knowledge slip
away. You need to start getting focused now. Best and most valuable advice I can give you. I have
taught enough students who left only with a meaningless piece of paper to know the difference. Don’t let this be. If it
will become you, why are you wasting your time and money? Indeed over the four years you are here, you could have
been working, saving for a house, maybe make $120,000 instead of spending maybe an equal amount on a degree that
has no meaning -leaving doing essentially what you were doing when you came in. Why are you here and what is
motivating it? And if the answer isn’t a passionate interest in your study and working hard toward your life goals: YOU
ARE IN THE WRONG PLACE!!!! Go make money and move on. Honestly. You can do cheap degrees online in your
spare time. If you are in the back of your classes playing games and chatting, why? Why are you doing that here? Who
are you fooling? Really. The teacher? Your parents? How sad. You’re fooling yourself. And you’re wasting an
opportunity. In my experience only so many go by and then they stop and then your options decrease as you age. Do it
now!! If this isn’t it: GREAT!!! Go find what it is. NOW!! Fast. Time’s ticking. Will you leave here in two years with
worthless paper? Really, it’s up to you, and really, you can get about changing that now.
FIRST: Make the shift from high school as fast as you can.
Because it kind of looks like a big high school, many students get fooled into thinking this place still is. You’re making
a mistake. In high school you chase grades and make excuses why you’re late for class. In my class I couldn’t care less
what your excuse is and don’t want to hear it. You are simply expected to be at class on time. Because this is BIG
PEOPLE SCHOOL. Excuses are for LOSERS. If your focus is on the grade you will miss when things are really
important, you’ll look at a percentage in a assignment and think that that is what it’s worth when any good University
teacher is looking at your progress over the term, will KNOW when you are improving and when you are dogging it,
and compliment you or call you on it, depending on what you need. Why? Because, I’m not the point, you are. The
mature University student is committed to the PROCESS of their own learning and sets goals for THEMSELVES.
More so, they move from a position of “I” to one of “we”, and in this program it is the ticket to success to be able to
work selflessly with and for others in productive teams, developing trust and mutual accountability. Why? Because
THOSE attributes are what will get you into industry and keep you there and allow you to progress in organizations.
They won’t look at your GRADES or your DEGREE! They’ll meet you and decide if you are a go-getter or a slacker,
someone they want to work with and be with every day or someone they can do without. The ONLY reason grades
should matter is if you think you might go on to Graduate school or another program, and even then: if your TEAMS
succeed and the BEST students want to work with you: THE GRADES WILL TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES.
The high school grades were necessary to GET YOU IN HERE. Now, the true measure
of how you’re doing is your portfolio, and the relationships you are developing, the
network you are building of people who can recommend you out there. And again: if you make
this massive shift in thinking that is necessary to truly succeed in this course but in University generally, the rest, the
grades will take care of themselves. JUST LOVE YOUR WORK and work hard, because you WANT TO !!!!!
SECOND: don’t just do the projects. Work to understand what is being taught, where it’s going and JUST TRUST
What you were meant to learn in this course and know in future courses, will go in bits and then it will just flow past
you because everything accumulates and builds on other things. By the end of this course if you have been reading and
working at all that was asked of you - instead of handing in some crap assignment you don’t care about, or doing the
project, and not the reading, or splitting up work in a team but caring little whether it is good and cohesive project - if
you LEARN THE SUBJECT, by the end your maturity will pay off and you will see others who did not, who are
unable to truly respond to what is being asked. Then by third year these poor souls will be taking courses with NHL’ers
while they have the skills of a Pee-Wee hockey player, to use an analogy. It will show up over time. Trust me on this.
Those committed to the project, will utterly begin to blow your doors off in the final 4 weeks of this course if you take
short cuts and treat this like a high school course. Why? Because the one who works at this will be developing their
PROCESS, the other will have only skills: no match.
And suddenly if you aren’t careful, you’ll leave with the worthless piece of paper, debt, and all you will be able to do is
what was easy for you, or what you enjoyed doing before you got here. Sure you’ll know more when you leave no
matter what, but why have bothered?? 4 years? When you could have been making money?
The opportunity lost. Believe me, opportunity is in the air here. But YOU have to pull it down
and make something of it. I’m telling you, opportunity is in the air here. But YOU have to come get it.
And THAT will take work, sweat and commitment.
4. why go to University?
This is a REALLY important question. If your answer is because your parents said so or you don’t know what you
should do, then my recommendation can start now: figure out, as fast as possible, what turns you
on, what you are passionate about, what it is and what it isn’t. But, figure it out.
Take a range of things and figure out what you don’t want to do and narrow each term what you do.
wait for the education to come to you.
Then begin to dig deeper ON YOUR OWN. Don’t
Become a sponge for knowledge in your new passion. You’ll know when you are on
the right path. You just will. And until you figure that out, doing it this way will push you faster toward that all
doesn’t matter what you do after you leave here, but while you are here:
But above all, it
don’t get the degree and miss the education.
Accumulate a pile of ideas and then start synthesizing
And finally, AGAIN (!!!) as soon as possible figure out, not to do it for the
grades. Each year NO-ONE fails this course. Why? Because it’s easy? No: it will be the hardest course of the year.
Because I chase out the people who are just wasting time. This handout is the beginning and some will even begin to
drop when they read how intense this is going to be. They should!! By week three about ten to twenty people drop
usually. Just not up to it for a variety of reasons. You simply can’t hide after that: I know every student by about week
4-5 and if you show up with crap work you will get called on it. As you start to work in teams, your teammates WILL
call you on it. This course is about excellence. Even those who have to be/ need to be dragged kicking and screaming to
excellence do it. Teachers who fail large percentages of their students in my opinion have failed their students, not
given them a failing grade. It was their responsibility to get their students to learn what was being taught, and they
didn’t do it. Maybe didn’t care to. On the other end of it, probably 40% of my students get A- or higher. So there is no
bell curve in place. The bell-curve has about ten percentage over the A- line, ten percent under the B- line and the rest
in the middle. That’s Horse-hockey. Excellence will be rewarded with top grades: end of story. Trust the process. Work
hard, do the work, be accountable to your teammates.
If you love what you do, the grades will follow. They will in this class anyway. Be mediocre, get a mediocre grade. Do
the minimum, you’ll get the lowest grade I can give you.
But stop trying to do what you think the teacher wants and all the stupid tricks young
students do to get by as soon as possible. Just cut that out. Get real. That’s high school. This ANNOYS
ME. There are always a few who for some reason don’t get this message and try to pull it right to the end of the course.
I’ll warn you: it’s about the only way to get on my bad side. You can’t suck up to me, you
can’t show up late habitually with an excuse, you can’t give me excuses for stuff, you can’t shift blame onto others.
Build character instead.
Value integrity and honesty, practice them yourself and expect it of
others. If we ALL do these things we will build an environment where excellence can’t help but happen
And if we don’t: well, hey we all already know what mediocrity looks like.
Mediocrity will win here too if we let it. But if we as a class, as a culture decide that we won’t let it, those among us
with mediocrity will just eventually be outnumbered. High school is a drag because the culture lets mediocrity
win. I hated that in high school, maybe you did too. So, don’t bring it here. We CAN expect better. Isn’t that
what you THOUGHT University was going to be about???
I love learning. I love teaching. I love when other people are learning. It’s electric. Let’s enjoy learning together.
That’s all I’m after: nothing else. If you make it something else, you are reading me wrong, or just not
ready for this level of maturity at this time in your life.
I want you to learn, to be passionate. To be engaged. To care. To love your work and
love working with others. But be clear that real learning and growing can be painful.
If it doesn’t hurt you a little, you aren’t stretching. I’m not talking sitcom passion: resolved in 30
minutes. I’m talking about life passion that takes a lifetime to realize. That’s the only kind worth pursuing in my view.
The real. And it’s hard-gained, hard-won. It has to be fought for, pushed against, as life pushes against death.
Great film line you may know: “Get busy living or get busy dying”. That’s true. If you aren’t living you are already
dying. Living is so exultant in its moments of beauty. But these are hard won by achieving them. That’s why in this
class, we will all agree to only honor and accept such from each other. One of my mentors said in first year of
architecture school when asked how she designed one of Canada’s great and important buildings, that it was really
hard. She added, “If you aren’t sweating blood: you probably aren’t designing”. That’s why we will push so hard.
Greatness demands it my friends.
The university education is and should be a voyage of growth. Your growth. Your path.
Each year, the student moves from more individual fascinations, to moving toward their future selves as participants
and contributors to a society.
Understand that this is what you are doing here and make the time count.
Become who you were meant to be.
That’s why go to University.
Outline Part two: Class Rules and Structure of the
1. Once set, each week: PLEASE GO AND STAY IN YOUR SECTION:
I need class sections to be as an equal as possible. Once set, YOU MUST go to your set crit time to have your
work reviewed. If your work is not finished; I don’t care. If you slept in: I don’t care. These are YOUR
responsibilities. If we don’t stick to this, I end up with five people in a section and 40 in another some days
You’re not the only one sleeping in and late you know! No you may not just show up to section 2 if you are
in section 1. We will then try and make provision for anyone who wants to move to do so in the first
week and then that’s it. After that: stay in your section.
2. Missing class or work submissions: not going to happen
IMPORTANT POLICY: If you miss the crit session YOU GET NO FEEDBACK on the work that
week: not in class at end, not at all. Not from instructor and not from TA’s. Nor will you will receive
any. DON’T ASK ME. Not at the class, not after, not the next day, not Thursday, not next week. None.
You miss class you miss my feedback. PLEASE re-read that bit again.
Will I mark it if you arrive late to class?
Yes, I will mark it, but again, if you miss the crit, I will NOT give you feedback on that work. YOU are
responsible to get to EVERY crit. Don’t shift the responsibility back to me. If you arrive to class AFTER the
crit has begun you will receive no feedback on that work. Be on time
What if I’m sick or “sick”? This is a problem at second year, I still have people acting like babies. I sincerely
apologize to the serious student here. If you are someone who is late all the time and have been able to then
get by, by having an excuse, I’m just NOT interested.
I also don’t care if such people are “sick”. I’m not “the teacher”, again, it’s another high school game. Grow
up. Or rather: after ten years of teaching I have no patience for students who BS me. It is childish and you
need to handle it. Again: THIS IS NOT HIGH SCHOOL MAN!! So, for now, for everyone: how to handle
illness and the like:
Don’t email me, cough cough, and don’t bring me a note. Just bring your completed work the week after and
attach a post-it note to the missed work so I can tell what is going on. Or, give it to another student to pin up.
But this is ONCE only.
3. BUT: what if I am late with work more than once?
If this happens more than once, first off you will be screwing yourself by missing crits. Second, I will take
note of it. IF it happens more than twice, I will ask you to withdraw from the course. PERIOD.
You can’t miss that much of this stuff and reasonably expect to know what is going on. What happens then is
students come to me to fill in the blanks for them. Again, I am being panelized for your inability to get to
class. So: just GET TO CLASS!!!!
For the majority of students this stuff is not necessary to say. But there are always a few who think that they
can get away with it. If that’s you - and you know who you are - get to class on time with your work finished.
End of story.
You may think that everyone has excuses all the time. You are wrong, the good students NEVER miss my
class. So, you have to ask yourself: what’s your issue??
As a teacher, the worst part is often dealing with all the phony whining. I detest this part of my job. I am
NOT a babysitter.
If you DO legitimately get the flu, and we all: fine, just get better, catch up, move on. Save the drama. This
also irks me. Over the years I have had REALLY sick students. Which by some faking it cheapens that
experience. If that happens to you, I will be in support. But I hate being asked to figure out if you are faking
4. HOW THE FIRST CLASSES WILL RUN:
a. your work must be ON THE WALL AT THE START OF CLASS.
Each week you will be bringing in work for review by critique. We review all the work on the wall or use a
few as examples for all. I will mark work at the end of that class for that assignment or part. We have very
little time to do all of this. We need you to get your work up or we waste fifteen minutes when I could be
providing feedback. If you come in late and the crit has started, I will mark your work, but you will not get
feedback on it. If you are late often this will become a problem for you. DO NOT MISS ANY
CLASSES. You cannot learn by just doing the project and the reading. The CRIT is where most
people have the dots connected and the penny drops. This is REALLY important.
And also, yes, sometimes you will figure it out AFTER you’ve done the project and seen what others did.
That’s the POINT!!!
You must get in the room and your work up on the wall as quickly as humanly possible if you want
feedback. Sometimes there will be another class in our space. They must vacate ten minutes before the next
class (i.e. we’re in at 10:30, they must be out by 10:20). You must start putting work up then. If there is a
delay into our class time, you have no more than five minutes to get your work up. If at all possible have your
work taped BEFORE you get to class so you can just stick it up.
If it’s not there AND ON THE WALL on time, I won’t mark it and you will not receive feedback. Be
on time and get the work up without delay. We have only 110 minutes for each class. Trust me: that is
b. Marking: at end of crit in last five minutes
then after the crit, let me mark the work quickly. Wait till I am done, and then get the work off the wall
immediately as soon as you see me grade yours. DO NOT bother me while I work around the room
marking the work on the wall. If you have a question wait until I am finished ALL of the work grading.
5. Treat the walls and classrooms with respect:
NO WORK or material IS TO BE LEFT IN ANY ROOMS OR ON ANY WALLS: EVER.
If we need to (let’s say another instructor’s next class needs to start) you can return later that day to get it
down. But as soon as is humanly possible. If you can’t, you must get a colleague to do it for you. But, all
work MUST come down that day and no work or paper etc. is to be left in the classroom. Not on walls, not
on tables and not on the floor, or anywhere else. This goes for ANY working area, lab etc. If you make ANY
mess, YOU clean it. Some of our projects use foam and make a lot of garbage: it is YOUR responsibility to
deal with this. Once done, clean up. PERIOD. ***This is ESPECIALLY important when the class starts
doing the physical modeling. Please be clear: I am not just asking you on this. We have record of who
worked in the modeling lab because you have to scan to get in: if messes are left or damage is done, we will
pursue those responsible.
6. On work that is pinned up on the walls: USE MASKING TAPE ONLY.
I like the green painter’s kind, ½” width or 3/8” but not too wide. No tacks or two-sided tape of any kind
allowed. It peels the paint and leaves behind a mess. Your tape must not rip the paint or wall surface.
7. 2 SESSIONS A WEEK:
You must come to the Wednesday session with your section and the other sections together, to go
through the next assignment and any lab work or software demos. THIS IS MANDATORY and not
optional. Missing this period will severely hamper your ability to do the assignment. If there is no
assignment details to be handed out, we use it as a lab. When we learn software, we will do it also in those
late afternoon sessions. So, you have two classes per week with me: the crit and then the new assignment
session. A lab is provided on Monday in the break between the morning and afternoon session at which a TA
will be there for drop-in help.
8. FEEDBACK: ****READ THIS PLEASE!!!!!!
a.If the project you just showed was a one week project, it’s done and a new
assignment begins. If it is two week, you receive half your grade for each week
and you use the feedback from week one to impact week two . b.It is impossible
for me to get you all the feedback you will need. The traditional design studio has
10-15 students in it. I have often had two, three or four sections of 25-30, even
forty, just of this course. This is not optimal but it what the University is
scheduling and they think that is generous. We have to do the best we can with
this and I need to understand this up front. You are one of over 100 students
taking this course. BUT, there is a full mechanism to ensure that you know what
to do on the projects and you need to understand how that works and not have
other expectations based on how other course may have run. It’s simple:
THIS IS REALLY KEY:
The major feedback happens in two places: the crit sessions and the
assignment sessions. If you are attending both of these on time and listening to
all the feedback for everyone most of your questions should be answered. This
is not optimal but it is, based on five years’ experience, enough.
YOUR INDIVIDUAL WORK MAY NOT GET EXTENSIVE FEEDBACK IN A
GIVEN WEEK. YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS NORMAL
AND THAT CRITIQUE WORKS BY SEEING WHAT EVERYONE HAS
DONE WITH THE CHALLENGE, NOT JUST YOU.
In these crits I will sometimes even pick 3-5 works anonymously as being the better work that we can all
learn from. I will most often buzz the room giving every anonymous work a few comments. Your individual
work will not receive in depth feedback each week and it doesn’t need to.
I will make as much time as I can for individual desk crits. But, by all means if you are not getting something
come book a “desk-crit” with the section TA.
But in most cases, if you DO THE READING each week and APPLY that into the work and ATTEND
the CRIT and ATTEND the second session, you will know what to do and whether you are on track. The
assignments are online but this not enough to do the project well without the second session. If you wish to
see me, don't jump me in class or in the hall: book a time through email firstname.lastname@example.org. I do not schedule
BUT: Just be patient in the first few weeks, it will come. Don’t be needy. Be patient. We have 3 TA’s, but I
will instruct you as to the appropriate use of them for feedback. So, in other words, APPRECIATE their time
and don't assume it or expect it. But most importantly, don’t go to them helpless and expect them to fix it:
you will not learn how to do it.
Based on experience: Just trust that you will understand over time and don’t panic.
9. DO NOT EXPECT INSTANT FEEDBACK OUT OF CLASSTIME:
Please don’t jump on my back as I walk through anywhere on campus. I have had people, literally run after
me, follow me into the washroom, shout across large spaces, interrupt while eating, you name it. Just use
common sense and courtesy. You may think this is a small issue. But when you do what I do and you have
150-250 students per term, it can be never-ending. EVERYONE wants my time, not just you. Don’t hesitate
to be friendly, say hi, but just because I am there doesn’t mean that I have time right at that precise moment
for you. This is immature.
If you aren’t sure if I am busy, always ask first, “IS NOW A GOOD TIME”?, before you launch into
anything. I do not have to respond instantaneously to your needs and I generally will not. As we get to know
each better, this will become less of an issue. You will receive pointed feedback, EACH WEEK, FROM
ME IN CLASS on your work in crits. I’ll discuss how to handle that below.
10. GRADING CRITERIA ARE VERY CLEAR:
Lastly, and this is very important, the criteria for success on the projects will be very clearly aligned to a
handout you will receive which lists the qualities of the “language of the constructivist”. So, this is where
there should be no lack of clarity about “how am I doing”, or “am I getting it/ doing it right”.
Those qualities (hierarchy, asymmetrical balance etc.) will either be in your work or not be in your work,
and in a short time EVERYONE in the class will be able to see that and at that time we will all be “speaking”
So, if you’ve had courses before where the criteria on creative projects was subjective and relativist you will
be pleased to find in design education a set of criteria and that there are accepted rules. It doesn’t matter
whether YOU “like” it or whatever, or that I do. EVERYONE in the class will be evaluated on this basis and
we will work to improve the language characteristics throughout the term. Very measurable. And by the way,
I make a practice of finding out who everyone is as quickly as I can, identifying who’s working hard and
trying. I remember names very fast and by end of term I will know all of you. I guarantee. So you can’t
be anonymous either with me. Most of you will do 2-3 or more courses with me. You will over that time
receive lots of feedback. This is good because we can establish a respectful relationship of mentorship. So,
just CHILL OUT about this issue.
But know also as a result if this measurable system, that by end of this course or at latest, by the fall of third
year I start beating the excuses out of people a bit. Nobody gets by me to fourth year to populate the “Senior
Project” courses unless they have matured enough to do it. But that starts NOW. Not in third year. If you
don’t work on this course I will identify you pretty fast and either encourage you to drop to get in gear or just
Be on notice: if you slacked by this far, maybe managed to disappear on teams as an example, that stuff is
over. Most of the work you do for me is INDIVIDUAL for this reason. Time to start standing on your
own feet and decide whether you want to be in this program, or not and whether you want to learn or
not. The work is also really hard to plagiarize or cheat on: if it’s not yours, we’ll ALL know. If you are not
learning the language, it will show up pretty fast. You just can’t fake this course. It was designed that way.
Slackers will be weeded out. Do me a favor. If you think this is you and you don’t want to work: save me the
effort, just take another class.
Key course idea: ********
12. IT’S NEVER PERSONAL: this course will give hard feedback.
Why? Because it makes you better. I will try as best I can to keep my comments objective and general. But if
I critique your work and the word is not good, or not what you expected or not what you want: look I’ve seen
THOUSAND of the same project, I’m just telling what I see.
You’d be far worse off if I DIDN’T tell you and you took that work into the marketplace. Why tell it straight
up? Well, if you know, you can do something about it right away. This week, today. You should have it
handled by next week, not the end of term. Better to know now. As a result the ENTIRE class’s performance
improves very, very fast. You will be astounded.
There is a problem with University learning that people sometimes take feedback PERSONALLY.
Critique can feel the most personal of all evaluation because it is so public.
Why does it feel personal? Why is that?
Because this is generally a safety mechanism which allows people to carry on thinking that they are OK,
complete and even “perfect”. If I give you feedback and you get “hurt”, remember this and recognize it if that
is what you are doing. Don’t shift blame. Again, you can play that game with your parents, but to project that
on to me because I am older than you and in charge is not going to allow us to learn. By default I am going to
be the oldest person in the room!!! But we are together in this we, just have different roles. If you do this, no
matter who old you are, I’m sorry you are just being immature. And believe me, I SEE IT ALL THE TIME.
SO: here’s the rule for the class. IF feedback stings, you can go ahead and feel hurt for about ten to
thirty seconds and then you have to repeat, in your mind, “it’s not personal, it’s just business”. If you
are still steaming about critique a week later: you have taken it personally. Don’t.
Why is “it’s not personal” so important? Because that is what is really going on. I’m not “hurting” you. You
may be “feeling” hurt. OK that’s real. But do you want to learn or sulk? Growing up hurts. Change does,
Growth does. But all of those things are good for you. You need to have the presence of mind to recognize
this and have the maturity to know when it is happening to you…and MOVE ON.
We will, again, work on this over the next two years. We will all get to a point where all of those easier
mechanisms, the stuff that has been keeping you “safe”, are out of the way so that we can just get focused on
doing GREAT WORK.
My job is to make you better.
To prepare you for senior level work. I’ve been doing it for a long time. It has worked every time before. I’m
very good at it. You’re just going to have to trust me a bit on this one. I won’t underestimate the value of
So, one more time with feeling,
“IT’S NEVER PERSONAL, IT’S JUST BUSINESS”.
This will be repeated throughout the term.
If anything: if you get a bad crit and you don’t like it, think I am wrong then prove it in your next submission,
show me that way.
The baseball great Satchel Paige was once asked how he dealt with all of the boo-birds in opposing ballparks,
“If they boo ya, you gotta make em pay”.
Just take care of business and leave all of your “feelings” out of it. Otherwise the whole course gets bogged
down taking care of YOUR needs. Look, this will work. Just trust the system and be open to learning and it
will be fine.
Seattle Design Field Study:
This class travels by bus to Seattle for three days every term to engage in an extremely intensive invaluable learning
experience. We have been doing this for ten consecutive years. It is a highlight of the course. It is not required but highly
recommended. If you don’t go, a replacement project will be provided for you to do in Vancouver in a team.
Inevitably a few people for various reasons don’t go, which are always respected. I would suggest that this is often
looked back on as one of the seminal moments in this program. Plan on going unless something really important to you
keeps you home. If you stay home you will do a replacement assignment. But this is another one you should trust me on:
just plan to go. It’s an amazing study opportunity.
Here are some details to start getting prepared for.
The cost is $175 cdn per person. This includes 2 nights and three days.
The cost covers hotel, bus transport, if possible some food. All you need more is some food money.
That’s a good deal. How do we do it? The rooms are shared with 4 to a room, you and three others. In
some cases cots can be rolled in, but this might mean you and someone else on either side of a double
bed. The rooms are gender split, [so, no you can’t room with your boyfriend/ girlfriend]. There will of
course be bedding that you can split, but if you are squeamish about the shared situation, bring your own
The money for the trip will be collected in early-October, cash or cheque only.
The trip is costed to the number of people and averaged so cancellations will not be accepted unless
extreme circumstances apply. So clear the time now with work etc. and sock the money away now or as
soon as possible. I can start accepting checks immediately if you just want it done and out of the way.
The dates this year are NOVEMBER 05, 06, 07 (fri-sun).
Arrangements will be made with any instructor who has a significant overlap with numbers for the
missed week day). Book it off work now. We leave from Surrey Place about 8am day of departure and
return 3rd day at about 10pm. I contact your other teachers to let them know to expect you away.
Food is your own responsibility. Be smart: bring a bowl and spoon etc. and buy milk and cereal for
breakfast etc. to keep your cost down. The American buck is still slightly out of whack.
Passports: A passport is now required at U.S. Customs. If you don’t have a passport DO IT
NOW. If you are a landed immigrant etc talk to Immigration and figure out what you need. This
is YOUR responsibility.
Pack light: it’s only 2.5 days people, you don’t need a steamer trunk. If it won’t fit in a backpack,
leave it behind. Pack a small umbrella if possible, just in case.
Walking shoes: we walk a TON, bring comfortable shoes and umbrella etc.
Cameras: you will need your digital still and SLR cameras. 20 digital still cameras have been
booked for the class, one PER TEAM only, if you need one, in our library. You can take them out In the
days before we go and return them as soon as we get back. All library policy applies: you are
responsible. Laptops for project work. Recorders for studio interviews.
Insure laptops and cameras etc. Get travel insurance if you wish. OR check if these items are
covered by your parents or your house insurance. Your responsibility. Just a head’s up..
What is it? Over the years we have always lined up the best and hottest designers and thinkers and
then visited their design studios or have them speak and answer your questions. As the class sizes have
gotten too large to do this we have moved toward a limited number of such exposures and the emphasis
is now on the project itself. In 2008 we visited Knoll International, one of the world’s great furniture
design companies. In 2007 we visited a graphic design firm, an architecture firm, a brand designer and
an exhibition designer as well as a motion graphics company. Plus we nailed down a theorist, from
worldchanging.com and a head designer form FROGdesign for a cool head to head debate of product
culture. Then set a project for you to develop on a team with senior students from our program. We also
tour you through several of Seattle’s amazing architectural and urban spaces such as the Rem Koolhaas
designed Seattle Central Library, Steven Holl’s St. Ignatius Chapel, the Frank Gehry-designed EMP,
and the recent SAM Olympic Sculpture Park by Weiss/Manfredi. People come back utterly shaken each
year. It is an amazing experience. You will understand design at a new level on return.
CORE UNDERSTANDING + Advice: (to see in the below schedule – it’s not just dates):
1. weeks 1-10 build new skills. The level + scope of problem increases each week
2. weeks 11-14 apply the skills as new knowledge. The scope of problem is extremely complex.
3. the weekly pace is INDEED difficult, with work due EVERY week. If all we were doing was
learning skills, this could get spread out, if we used all 14 weeks to do this. But it is important to
apply the skills DIRECTLY in final weeks to really know them and take your abilities to a new level.
Which if you work hard at is promised. Please just trust me on this.
4. working in teams successfully is KEY to this course. Personal accountability is EXTREMELY
high. You simply MUST learn to work well in teams in this class or it will be intolerable and you will
not enjoy the class or learn from it. A pity and a waste. This course is as much about learning new
work habits as it is about design or space. The course is really about being passionate + focused
about your OWN learning and career.
5. You will work hard for 14 weeks. You will be glad when it is over from a work stand-point. But
many students go on into spring term and crave the challenge the course presented. Keep things in
perspective. Learn balance, work when it’s time to work. Take time TO REST when it is available.
6. This is UNIVERSITY. You don’t get a degree or a passing grade just for showing up. Even if you
were able to do that in other courses, it will NOT work here. Use the course to develop your sense of
career goals and interests. And WHILE in the study term minimize all other DISTRACTIONS: cel
phones, chat rooms, you tube, text messages, TV, internet, gaming. This last is a particular problem:
if you have issues with online gaming, pick one, go to university or play “World of Warcraft” all
night as you’ve been doing. You WILL NOT be able to do both. Pick one. Lead, Follow or Get out of
the Way. Either way: turn off ALL outside communication while the class is in session: no texting, no
chatting, no gaming. PERIOD. BE HERE NOW.
7. The projects in this course are specifically designed so that they CAN’T be plagiarized or repeat
things you already know.
8. when you leave University, your grades won’t matter and the won’t get you a job let alone a
career. So don’t prioritize those. What you should prioritize and what WILL get you into places is
two things: your portfolio and your network. Develop those in the next 2 years. Build those. A
portfolio has to be really good if you have no network (and I mean a professional one of people
who will recommend you into positions)
W Crit Date Show at the crit this week: Individual or Content in “Lecture” Session %
K + Study Focus Team?
1 graphic - - Intro to course/ first project -
SPACE out/ Hierarchy/Clusters/
September Asymmetrical Balance
2 Constructivist Book Covers individual Underlying Structure/ 5
September 13/14 Contrast/ Tension/
Overlapping Planes/ Hotspots
3 September 20/21 Magazine Spreads individual Legible-Readable/ connective 5
4 September 27/28 On-Screen Present: Design Team of 2-4 Communication is 90% 5
Precedents of any idea or project
5 architectural Physical Models: Team of 5 5
SPACE Team models a bldg known (*mgmt of
October 04/05 architect in cardboard team is crucial)
6 No classes: thanksgiving Team of 5 Cinema 4D: wed class -
October 11/12 holiday Solids, modeling, set up
7 October 18/19 FINISH models Team of 5 Cinema 4D 10
Lighting, Rendering, Splines,
8 digital Digital Models: Team of 5 15
SPACE Team models a bldg by
October 25/26 known architect in Cinema
9 urban Intro to Urban Design + New Team of Set Seattle teams, introduce 5
SPACE: Planning/ Contextual Design 5+5 project
November 01/02 Prep for Study.
public Seattle STUDY RUNS V1 presented in Seattle 5
SPACE November 05/06/07 Research/ Scope of problem/
Weekend: (Friday-Sunday) brainstorms/ work with
IN SEATTLE mentors
10 ***No regular classes *seattle make- ***No regular classes -
November 08/09 up
11 Seattle Team Project v2: final FI NAL PROJECT OUT 10
***note: the Tuesday session
will be a site visit downtown
in class time
12 contextual Applied knowledge: Final New team of 5- FINAL Architectural + Urban 5
SPACE Contextual Design Sited 6 Intervention 5pm:
November 22/23 Client-based Project using
ALL skills learnt in the
13 November 29/30 Process ITALIAdesign Field School 10
Info Session + slideshow**
14 December 06 Note: 35% of total grade for 20
LEARNING OUTCOMES FOR IAT 233:
1 Students will learn and demonstrate in several weekly projects the intermediate skills of Communication Design
spatial composition for the express purpose presenting onscreen materials throughout the course and remainder of
courses at SIAT. Graduates if SIAT must be able to communicate ideas in short, team-based presentation form.
2 Students will learn and then manage“critique” as a design methodology and how to respond to feedback without
taking things personally. This is a major professional issue. The basic rule of the course is, “it’s not personal because
it’s just business. Don’t take it personal, take make it personal, because it’s never personal”. This must be learned and
practiced. Without this in place design students cannot rapidly improve their work. Design students must be able to see
what is “good” and to recognize. Design students must understand concepts such as “flow” to ensure that they can work
without needless distraction and anxieties for professional deadlines.
3 Students will demonstrate the ability to present professionally in class before an audience in weekly sessions,
establishing confidence with generating content flow and communication excellence. Communication is 90% of design,
more important in many instances than what is being communicated. Design students must be able to “manage the
4 Students will learn and apply lateral design process and iterative design process through weekly practice and project
deadlines, moving from mere “whats” to “whys”. Eventually this will land as meaningful, well-researched, innovative
“what’s”, with strong “whys” always behind them. Students learn several methods for such iterativeness including
Pattern Language and other measurable design performance methodologies.
5 Students will prepare a series of precedents studies of several fields of design noting the process more than the end
product, seeing how ideas make great design and how great designers develop their own “box of values” that does not
change from project to project. That, their work and career is the project.
6 Students will engage several projects in architectural space with an intention of understanding how spatial constructs
are complex systems of meaning and experience. Architecture at its best is a “nested” discipline, highly contextual and
highly human-centered and scaled.
7 Students demonstrate mastery of a simple 3-D modeler, Cinema 4D and all learn fundamentals of modeling and
lighting space abstraction at human scale, populated by human-scale figures. Students also learn physical modeling for
architecture and develop hand processes for design, which despite advances in technology is how most designers
develop ideas and fundamentally, how designers prototype as process.
8 Students advance with assurance to projects that continue to “scale up” their spatial constructs through projects that
study and learn the fundamental language of urban and public systems and spaces. Scaling up is crucial to a student
understanding how all conscious and relevant design is “nested” in every other scale, ultimately – from hand-held to
the geo-scale. Issues such as “sustainability” resonate powerfully for design that is “nested”. Projects are designed to
reinforce this scaling as a constant practice and awareness, a fundamental ability of contextual designing
9 Students engage in an intensive design 3-day “charette” OUT of their normative context to begin to pull all of these
awarenesses together and to begin to see how context must form the reason for all design. All skills learned are
employed in learning how to communicate rich, discursive, content through design as vehicle. The skills learned now
10 Students finally engage a final three week major project sited in the urban environment of a neighborhood
undergoing post-industrial shift toward creative and knowledge economy in which the context is primarily a human
scaled one, and apply all that they have learned in the course in a new, and personal synthetic manner. Students have
learned to work with high intensity design teams in a studio-based environment. They will ultimately prepare and
defend their final proposals and justify their design decisions employed to solve the complex ill-defined problem before
them. Projects in the course will begin as “well-defined” and in the final two longer projects edge into “ill-defined”
problems, the terrain of interaction design and professional design projects. Students in a contemporary design course
and program should not leave solving only in the “well-defined” problem scope and scale.