During my early design education I was focused on the design prowess of the individual designer, theory over application and expression over functionality. In the past decade I've become a much more pragmatic and responsible designer, but I've done my best to retain the lateral thinking and experimentation cultivated in my early years of design education. I've become an advocate of collaboration and seek opportunities to team up with other creatives whenever possible. In recent years I've learned to appreciate the virtues of collaboration, whether with clients, designers, educators or my own students. This new found appreciation for collaboration has become integral to teaching. I have pushed to increase my team-teaching opportunities and to increase the amount of team-based student projects as well.
Research is the foundational component of my design process. The needs of the client and nature of the project dictates whether the research is more technically intensive, investigative or intuitively driven. Clear communication is the primary mandate in most cases, but I am always excited by the occasional eccentric design problem. I am always interested in a design challenge that stretches the parameters of the discipline.
In the classroom, the origin of every challenge is to read, collect, observe and reflect. Reading and writing form the basic foundation of content generation and concept development. I challenge my students to reflect on the cultural relevance of their work, to strive to connect in a meaningful way and to be mindful of how context changes meaning.
In the past, some students have described me as overly demanding, terse and a bit too serious. Initially I took these assessments as complimentary. I have since changed my view. I have come to realize that a more effective educational strategy is to invest time in understanding them. Each student responds differently and some need to be nurtured in a different way. I have started to appreciate what it is to be a mentor.
In the classroom I've found that students appreciate my organization and thoroughly structured and clearly scheduled outlines. I maintain a certain amount of flexibility in the event that I've been unrealistic in the timelines or expectations. I believe in changing critique and discussion models to allow students to do more peer-feedback and encourage them to bring the content for discussion to the classroom where ever possible. Allowing them to formulate their own opinions and point of view is key in their development as independent designers and critical thinkers.