Day 40

Day 40

We need to change our intent in design, moving the point of departure from "what do you want to make?" to "what do you want to do?"

— Allan Chochinov

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We had the pleasure of chatting with Allan Chochinov, partner at Core77 and the Chair of the School of Visual Arts’ (SVA) MFA Products of Design program. The program launches in the Fall of 2012 with a superstar lineup of faculty. We asked him how the new program addresses the shifting definition of product design.

“It’s a graduate program, so part of its mission is to try and redefine and examine what we’re doing.” When SVA first approached Allan about starting an Industrial design program, he asked them, “Well, what do you mean an industrial design program?” He pushed back a bit because industrial design is a problematic term. It is no longer defined by the making of tangible “stuff.” Revolutions in digital fabrication and crowdfunding have changed some of the processes and practices of industrial design. In the Products of Design program Allan has created a curriculum that “challenges the presumptions of design and encourages a rethinking of what it means to manifest value in the world.” He talked emphatically about these changes:

“The history of product design for the past several decades has been that you create the thing and then you create the demand for the thing. I think that has to stop, otherwise we’re just burying ourselves in trash. If you can have deliberate intentionality about making only that which you need, it’s at least a better start. That’s why the digital fabrication revolution is promising—we’re only making the things that we want to make, instead of tooling up and pumping out hundreds of thousands of things—hoping that they’ll sell.”

In addition to redefining the “making” part of the product design program, Allan wants designers to focus on the consequences of their products. He says, “We also need to change our intent in design, moving the point of departure from “what do you want to make?” to “what do you want to do?”

We’re excited to see the artifacts and entrepreneurial enterprises that come out of the inaugural Products of Design class. We recommend watching the video profiles on the faculty where they share their thoughts on the program and their excitement for the profession.