Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Fan mail

Why I bring students to the Design Indaba
Brian Garman
Design Lecturer
Department of Journalism and Media Studies
Rhodes University

I have been bringing senior students to the Design Indaba as often as possible since Design Indaba 3. The timing is ideally suited to our academic year, as students will have returned to classes a few weeks before the Indaba. This gives us enough time to get them going on projects and courses before the Indaba starts and so when they go to the conference they can approach the Indaba with all their project requirements in mind. Having access to some of the world’s top design talent (with their work requirements in the back of their minds) is a fantastically inspirational start to the year. It also functions as a highly effective class-building exercise.

Although at Rhodes, we tend to focus on graphic and publication design, the spread of different design disciplines at the Indaba (graphic, architectural, jewellery, fashion, web) gives students exposure to the wider family of design of which they are a part, and raises possibilities for allowing other disciplines outside of their own, to influence their work. They see and hear things that they may never have imagined and in many cases, this has completely revolutionised their approach to their own work.

One of the major difficulties with attending the Design Indaba is finding the funding to bring the students but with the introduction of the Young Designers’ Simulcast (which costs a fraction of the normal registration) a few years ago, this has been made considerably easier. The quality of the simulcast is such that the students get an only mildly diminished experience from that which the rest of us get in the main auditorium. The YDS still gives students access to a number of functions at which they can approach and question speakers and to the design expo – a major highlight for them all. Perhaps more importantly, is that my students get to mix with a bunch of other young creatives from all over the country and from a variety of design schools, making contacts that will benefit them into the future.

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