Learn Constantly

Designers will need to understand the implications of science and technology for people. To do this effectively, we must be able to immerse ourselves in new technical domains and learn them quickly. Just as our understanding of and empathy for people allows us to successfully design with a user’s viewpoint in mind, understanding our materials, whether they be pixels or proteins, sensors or servos, enables us to bring a design into the world.

To achieve this, designers need to be early adopters of technology, learning constantly.

The ability to quickly learn new materials and techniques has always been one of the most important of a designer’s core competencies. However, the speed at which this is expected and at which technological change occurs is the critical difference today. How we learn will soon become as important a consideration as what we learn. To prepare designers for the new roles that emerging technology will bring, schools will need to develop curricula that emphasize continuous learning as a core competency and provide tools and methods to enable it.

AIGA, the professional association for design, and Adobe Systems, Inc., the design software giant, released research, “Defining the Designer of 2015,” based on the input of 2,500 designers and a variety of experts and focused on the future of the field.[]

In order to fulfill the expectations placed upon designers in the future, they will need to employ a set of skills that include some beyond today’s typical scope. No single designer is likely to have all the skills required, yet this research revealed the range of competencies that a studio or design department, among its full complement of staff, will need in order to meet the demands of the future.

Although the AIGA/Adobe survey results focus largely on communication-related design, it acknowledges that among the competencies needed by the designer of 2015, the need for “understanding of and ability to utilize tools and technology” and the “ability to be flexible, nimble and dynamic in practice.” Ultimately, designers will need to be lifetime learners.

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