Research at the London College of Communication 03.06.14

Last week I spent the morning with a group of forty design students in their second year at the London College of Communication. I gave a modified version of the Cambridge Creative Futures talk from March, interspersed with questions and discussion. The students are preparing for their year in industry and are in the process of applying for work placements, attempting to get funding for their projects, and working out how to fund themselves while they intern.

My talk was a slide-show of observations and experiences recorded on this blog. We discussed what I choose to write about and why, plus the benefits and practical applications of self-initiated research. How it helps your working practice and how it can be adapted for client projects. I also gave a couple of case studies explaining the various systems of research used in professional commissions – creative and cultural trend anticipation, the role of market research agencies, demographics, focus groups, and how to present your findings.

I’m not sure who gets most out of these sessions but I certainly gain a few insights by talking with students. It helps me keep up to date with themes and issues important to students, and consequently the next generation of industry professionals. Art schools are great places to spend a little time – sitting in the cafe watching college life. Wandering around the rolling program of student exhibitions – currently a diverse and inspiring second year photography show. Everything about art schools is considered to a level rarely found outside design education – the layout, structure and materials used in the building itself (inventive rather than expensive), open gallery spaces, communication and way finding systems, lighting, furniture, technology. Even the food – good coffee, good home-made soup and bread – the interest in quality and affordability reveals something of the faculty’s values and priorities. And then there are the students themselves – what they wear, their hair, shoes, jewellery, bags, phones, personal technology and how they use it, the books and magazines they read, and of course their work.