We want our students to develop an unprejudiced, analytical approach to problem-solving that allows them to practice design in several areas.
IE University and the IE School of Architecture and Design launched the Bachelor of Design: an undergraduate degree developed to prepare students for the true challenges of this industry. We spoke to Edgar Gonzalez, the Director of Undergraduate Studies in Design, to discuss the value of this degree and what students will get out of IEU’s newest bachelor’s degree.
Edgar has worked with a vast array of prestigious international companies and design studios, including Zaha Hadid, Arco Design, as well as The Economist and The Guardian. He has been working with the MediaLab-Prado for nine years in Madrid, and has experience teaching university-level courses. Edgar has also spent the past 13 years reflecting on and discussing top architecture and design trends in his blog, edgargonzalez.com.
Edgar Gonzalez, Director of Undergraduate Studies in Design
What is the Bachelor in Design at IE University about?
The Bachelor in Design aims to generate a design mindset. In the beginning, the program will explore all areas within design so the student can experience the different approaches to this discipline and develop their problem-solving capacity. After having seen all of these possibilities, students will be able to specialize in an area of particular interest.
We want our students to develop an unprejudiced, analytical approach to problem-solving that allows them to practice design in several areas, including service design, user experience design (UX), visual design (online and offline graphic design), digital product design, product design, and interior design.
What makes it different?
Besides the new approach to design, this program has some elements that make this degree unique. Design as a craft or as a profession is currently seeing profound transformation. These areas are becoming more important and useful within our society. We teach our students about designing functional and valuable things for people and communities.
To achieve this, the structure of the program is based on three core areas: design (functional, emotional, and experiential), business (the financial and economic factors present in the design process), and social sciences (we are designing for people, so we need to know how to study their needs, their feelings, and their frustrations). In this way, we prepare our students to design things that really matter.
Another key aspect or element of this degree is the project-oriented methodology: the Design Studio courses that are the backbone of the program. Throughout these projects, from the first half to the last, students will integrate all practices and all the knowledge acquired in other classes.
You mentioned that the field of design is undergoing a crucial transformation. Can you explore this in greater detail?
Yes, of course. I like to use the example of the famous User Experience (UX). Despite its current popularity, it didn’t exist three years ago. UX is the design of the experiences you have with a digital interface as a web page or application. The interface was originally designed by programmers, but it needed something more focused on the consumer’s experience. In only three years, this specialty has shot to the top of employer’s wish-lists.
In Fastco Design magazine, they mention that graphic design is evolving into visual design. This means that the offline aspect of graphic design is being combined with an online component to enhance the ‘look and feel’ experience. This is why I speak a little more of visual design, which includes not only the physical component, but also this explosion in the digital formats.
Another interesting part of the UX is the digital product design. Before, we had the idea that a product was a physical object, like a table, or a bottle of shampoo. But since the digital revolution has taken over, more and more products have become intangible or digital. For example, Airbnb is a product that is digital in nature. Digital product design captures this, and considers how users interact with the design.
Who should pursue the Bachelor in Design at IE University?
People with creative intentions, people who are restless, curious, and passionate. Individuals who are not satisfied with their reality, and who are excited by the prospect of change.
This degree is for people that have a special ability to identify problems and propose alternatives or solutions when faced with difficulties.
What kind of career path can students expect after graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Design from IEU?
I see our graduates working within various profiles. The first, of course, would be at a design studio. This is the most natural step. Students will be prepared to start working in a company, establish their own design studios, or work in consultation. I see them working in design-driven companies like AirBnb, Apple, Google, or Dyson. This degree also prepares students to work for any company looking to keep up in today’s market with a strong and innovative design team.
It can also be extended to more conventional companies that will require profiles like this to survive with design and innovation.