March 22, 2019

Beacon School Talk

Last January 31, The Beacon School invited me to give a talk about the design process to their third graders. They were doing a module about the design process and invited various practitioners to discuss how this way of thinking plays out in their respective fields. If I’m not mistaken, an architect and an engineer already came before me.

I started with a brief introduction about how graphic design is a broad field and gave different examples of graphic design applications. I showed slides about UI/UX design, environmental design, then transitioned to packaging design which was the focus of my talk for the day.

I’ll just pause here and say that I think it’s incredible that the design process is being taught to grade 3 students. The Beacon community is clearly doing something special because I am not used to the level of engagement I got from these kids. So many of them asked intelligent questions and were always a couple of steps ahead of my points. Which was fantastic.

I was worried that what I was talking about was too heady for them but my audience was more than capable.

I walked them through the design process using a case study, showing them what it’s like to understand the problems we’re tasked to solve, to gather information, tap into their creativity, and to use various tools to execute a plan. After all, one of the definitions of “design” is “to plan with a specific purpose in mind.”

Since my practice in NS Design is grounded on collaboration, I gave the kids a design process activity that would utilize learning to receive feedback.

I instructed the room to select a buddy and to design a product that their buddy would like. I had the class bring jars and art supplies in advance, and using these materials, the aim was to learn how to step out of their head and into another’s. My hope was that the class develops an understanding of using their modes of expression and skill to be able to tap into values, traits, and inclinations.

At the very least, we had a bunch of third graders who went wild designing packaging labels for hot sauce, pickles, cookies, rainbows, and even a molotov cocktail.

Special thanks to teachers Rizza Angeles and Nikka Hugo Yap.