Speaking at London's Design Museum last night, Apple's Jony Ive called the current design education landscape "tragic." The talk came about as Ive spoke about how Apple's efforts to hire young designers often fail because schools aren't teaching them how to make products — instead preferring to spend instructional time on studying the design of three-dimensional objects, rather than creating them.
Speaking on their hiring process, Ive had this to say:
So many of the designers that we interview don't know how to make stuff, because workshops in design schools are expensive and computers are cheaper. That's just tragic, that you can spend four years of your life studying the design of three dimensional objects and not make one.
Ive implies that the problem inherently lies in the personal motivation behind why designers do what they do:
It comes back to motivation and a sense of why are you doing this. Why is your first reaction not to run and go and understand glass and what you can do with glass? Why is your first reaction to start doing Alias renderings of glass cups?
On the efficacy of a computer-based approach to design education, Ive feels that while the design tools are necessary, students are ultimately becoming too relient on them:
It's great if the ultimate result was to be a graphic image, that's fine. But how on earth can you do that if what you're responsible to produce is a three dimensional object?
Ive certainly provides some valuable insight in the gap between a digital design and the final, physical product. Furthermore, his first-hand experience with trying to hire fresh-faced designers lends credence to his thoughts.