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Before lecturing a new course in the field of Design I ask my new students to bring into class a ‘design object’ that they like. So, on our very first lecture they bring some advertisements, packaging, logos, printed screenshots of websites etc. My reason for doing this is that I need to understand how my students value Design objects.

Later on in our class they generally explain me that the ‘object’ of their choice is aesthetically pleasing and communicates an important brand in an effective way. However, when I ask them to better understand their motivations for choosing that specific ‘object’ from the millions that are available, it turns out that their ‘object’ made them feel in a certain way at a certain point, changed a paradigm, promoted a social revolution, etc. Promptly different types of value, other than the aesthetic and economic value, emerge to the surface and we collectively start mapping them on a diagram.

At this point I ask them to think about the different ‘audiences’ that benefited from those ‘objects’ and to place the identified audiences close to the type of value created by their ‘object’.

While our collective diagram is expanding they realise that Design permeates society and can benefit brands but also individuals, societies, institutions, governments, countries, etc.

This simple exercise serves as a springboard for our work during the course. The challenge becomes to design ‘objects’ that create different types of value for as many stakeholders as possible. Including the designer himself.

Is it a School or a Prison? I came across this pamphlet on a street in Vienna and was initially surprised by the comparison. It is  another argument for making school life more engaging.