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Conference: the designer who came in from the cold

Conference: the designer who came in from the cold

L’École de design was invited to participate in the Cumulus biennial conference held October 4-6 at the Ural Academy of Art and Architecture, some 800 Km the other side of Moscow, Russia. David Balkwill, Course Leader of the Product Design Vocational Training, goes back over this 3-day exchange.

Ural State Academy of Art and Architecture

This big and industrial city has two design schools. The Ivan Shadr School of Art, and the Ural State Academy of Art and Architecture where they have been teaching design since 1968. Delegates came from Novosibirsk in Siberia, and from Moscow, Helsinki, and Nantes.

Speakers gave a fascinating view of the historical context of both design and design education in modern Russia, with many references and illustrations of the changes since the end of the Soviet regime. Discussions covered the differences between education and professional practice in Russia and in Western Europe, and how Russia can learn from and use best practice in order to compete with China and other developing countries such as India and Brazil.

I was there to speak about our innovative teaching structures through the apprentice schemes, and also to meet the Russian lecturers and designers. The Academy showed us work of a very high standard, with students winning competitions with Samsung, and placements at Bosch. I would have no hesitation to add the Academy to the list of schools for our students going abroad to study, and I can give much more detail if anyone is interested.

David Balkwill
Course leader in Product Design Vocational Training and Licence Professionnelle.