One of the important things you need to work out as a design educator is what you will give out as first assignment in a seminar or project. It is like a warm-up for a project, something that helps you to move into the problem domain quickly.

Of course there is usually plenty of material to research, collect and talk about almost everytime — but while these things help with orientation in the subject matter, it does have the tendency to cast a damp over experimentation and form-giving.

So in early assigments I seek to propose a task that is technically easy to do on the one hand (in terms of tools you need). I think there are two types of early assignments:

  1. a practical task that does not require much investigation and yet again is complex in regard to the possible solutions
  2. a research task that only involves observation and critical thinking

The goal is to help students to make an observation they didn’t expect or did not yet think about and to encourage them to use creative “out-of-bounds” thinking. At the same time it is desired that the extent of the “larger” design problem unfolds as well as all options available to solve it.

If you every have studied design – do you remember any the early assignments you got to get you in that loop?

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