A Designer Education

We’ve entered 2010 and there seems to be a renewed sense of optimism in people, especially with the creative people I know. Personally I know I’m trying to channel that feeling into something that not only enriches what I do, but helps other people as well.

A recent trend I’ve noticed over the past couple of years is a rise in contemporary artists creating covers and illustrations for classic books. The first person I can think of who did this was Shepard Fairey who worked for Penguin and more recently Sam Weber’s amazing interpretation of Lord of the Flies. Both of these were extremely beautiful and gripping, exactly what you need to get a young person to read them. But it got me thinking… What if we took this idea and applied it to textbooks?

When I was in high school I dreaded opening my textbooks. They were filled with ideas, which at the time, I didn’t think were interesting or important. Who cares about the Revolutionary War? I’ll never need to know about alkaline levels in metals. But what if these topics were presented in an entirely different matter all together? What if textbooks were designed and laid out like an issue of Monocle, with interesting graphics, beautiful photographs and written in a way that was interesting to young people?

Unfortunately I don’t even think textbooks are going to make it very far in the future. My boyfriend’s little brother already uses a netbook for his classes, which is where the future of textbooks lie. So that’s a place where designers should start to step in and take action. If future children will be learning on tablet computers then we should begin to create the appropriate interfaces to enhance their learning.

These are the kinds of things I believe that design can and should accomplish. I think the biggest roadblock though is getting it through the minds of government officials and big businesses that by creating well designed objects that the world will be a better place if they embrace these ideas. Change is what we make it.


January 8, 2010