Friday, 11 September 2009

Take a bow

I still remember the night, it was a Friday just like today.

I was standing in the crowds in the Lower Gallery when Lily went up to me and said: 'would you like to work for MDes as a teaching fellow?' I said 'yes' - which is one of the best decisions I have ever made. That was my own year of graduating Master of Design, and the night was the Master exhibition openning. I was simply enjoying the celebration and looking forward to the back-pack trip around Europe the next week. At that time, I perhaps didn't yet realize that what happened after I got back to Dundee was better than the most amazing journey I have ever dreamed of.

It was exactly three years ago.

Tonight I am witnessing a new group of 13 students enjoying their celebration and planning for their next step. So am I. This is my final week of being the ‘teaching fellow’ of MDes at the University of Dundee. Again I am at the point of facing a new journey in front of me. I am so happy that I still have courage to step into all the unknowns of my life, to make changes and to look forward to adventures.

Master of Design has been and will always be part of me. I had truly enjoyed every minutes spent with my brilliant colleagues and my inspiring students. I hope that they had enjoyed my company as well.

It is the time, the time to take my bow and start a new journey, maybe a completely different one but I know I will enjoy it just as I have enjoyed this one.

the end of design? the re-brith of design!

Yesterday we had a truly inspiring lecture from my brilliant colleagues Tom Inns and Mike Press in University of Dundee, as part of the Master of Design student project exhibition opening.

Tom took us back to his river of Design History. He also predicted that the sunny but highly pressured area of emerging design archipelago (service design included of course) which looks at real issues in our complex life is suggesting a re-birth of Design as a discipline. The world is witnessing an revolution brought about by new ways of communication, of living with the natural and artificial environment around us and of operating corporate, thus new generation of designers are exploring their ways into the challenging but exciting future – the best examples of which is right here on the Master’s exhibition.

Mike suggested that we were here not looking at the end of a master programme, or the end of design, but were celebrating the new beginning of a different journey ahead of our Master graduates, as well as us as designers and design researchers. Design is about the vision, the imagination of what the world was like, should be like and could be like. Mike introduced some of his design heroes (well, in fact most of them were not really recognized as ‘designers’… ) who believed that design is valuable to improve life by different means of, for example public services, engagement and empathy. ‘Nothing was too good for the public’ as Mike stated in his speech, there was a time when designers and artists were actively engaged in communities in public services to deliver effective, efficient and empathic solutions and motivations. It is time we look back upon these heroes, and set out a new phase of design which described as ‘Social Design’ by Mike. How do we create alternatives to social issues? There were principles suggested in last night’s presentation as:

  • Empathy and user-centred,
  • Co-creation and co-design,
  • Service focused,
  • Cultural inclusion,
  • Socially engaged,
  • Empathasis on well-being, and
  • Connected.

These principles as well set out the guidance of the 13 projects undertook by the Master of Design students for the past year. If you are interested in having a look at these projects in more details, please visit

As well for more information about the Master of Design course at the University of Dundee, please visit

The one-hour lecture was videoed and it is expected to be made available online soon. I am providing a lecture note just to easy your waiting ;-]