Design Master's Speech | The Power of Design Education and Social Services
Publisher:Hebei Industrial Design Innovation Center
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Each technological change drives new combinations and changes of knowledge and new systems to solve emerging problems, and design knowledge systems are constantly being supplemented to and improved.

——Pan Changxue


Pan Changxue, dean of School of Art and Design, Wuhan University of Technology, a member of National MFA Degree Education Steering Committee, a member of Design Undergraduate Teaching Steering Committee by Ministry of Education, the manager of National First-Class Major in Product Design, the manager of National Industrial Design Talent Cultivation Pilot Zone by Ministry of Education, vice president of Hubei Aesthetic Society, and senior visiting scholar of Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge.

At the Xiongan Design Forum of the Hebei International Industrial Design Week 2021, Pan Changxue, dean of School of Art and Design, Wuhan University of Technology, delivered a speech on the theme of The Power of Design Education and Social Services to discuss the social responsibilities and services that the design discipline, as an interdisciplinary discipline, should undertake.


Design activities in contemporary China

After the steam revolution, the electric revolution and the information revolution, mankind will usher in a fourth industrial revolution based on information-physical systems and marked by a high degree of digitalization and networking of production and self-organization of machines. In the process, the design has changed along with it. In the era of artificial intelligence, everyone in the world can make some contributions under the Internet of Things platform, which makes the design work more interesting.


While at the same time, Chinas design education is facing a number of problems.

There are over 36,000 graduates from arts-related programmes in the US and over 10,000 in the UK each year, with a focus on training arts talent. These numbers may seem like a lot, but if you turn your attention back to the country, the enrollment of art majors in China currently accounts for 10% of college entrance exam enrollment, or about 500,000 people. Our arts students far outnumber those in developed countries with more advanced cultural industries, which is a test for university education.

In this context, Pan Changxue believes that universities need to take into account the socio-economic development of the region in which they are located, the local culture and strengths of the school's resources, and relevant industry trends so as to find a division of labour solution for talent development.


With the development of industrial civilization, western design has different characteristics in different periods: aesthetic, marketable, technical, social and cultural. That is to say, the western design concept is in a state of progressive development.

However, the development of design in China is difficult because the Chinese economy is developing in leaps and bounds compared to the West, and the development of design concepts that complement industrial development is changing very quickly, which has led to the textbook content of the design discipline lagging far behind the times.

Pan Changxue believes that at a time when design is beginning to focus on culture, we need to think about what cultural traits are being injected into our products. Our industrial production, technology and social ethics, among other things, are all committed to making China a better China. Therefore, what is a beautiful China?  These are the questions that need to be considered in university design education.


Design disciplines and design abilities

Design is an interdisciplinary discipline that introduces knowledge from all disciplines, such as information science, anthropology, sociology, management, etc. At the same time, design is a problem-oriented and applied discipline.

Pan Changxue said that every time technology changes, new knowledge and new systems are combined and changed to solve emerging problems, and the design knowledge system is constantly being updated and improved. From today's point of view, artificial intelligence and information technology are topics that cannot be avoided, then for design science there is a need to organize scientific design knowledge to systematically address the issue of harmony and efficiency in different arenas.


In terms of the development of design skills, Pan Changxue summarizes several aspects:

Students of design should pay attention to the most basic of aesthetics, which is metaphysical beauty. For design skills, the transformation of the mind, brain and hand is very important, which requires constant hands-on drawing and creation. Secondly, the knowledge of design is uninterrupted, with a focus on the depth of knowledge and breadth of information that extends from design problems. In addition, constantly verifying practical problems, attaching importance to emotions and emotional expression means, conducting global cooperation and communication, and learning from nature are also the parts that need to be done to cultivate design ability.


Nowadays, design extends beyond the product itself to issues of social competence, efficiency, safety and other aspects, so design is everywhere. Pan Changxue points out that designers have to learn to understand the engineering language, and the design language has to gradually dovetail with the engineering language so that they can work with engineers and scientists on a new design object.


Fashion of design activities

Many scholars believe that fashion is a product of consumer society, which should be criticized. While Pan Changxue thinks that we should not criticized fashion without seeing the positive role of fashion.

Fashion is a powerful field driven by politics, culture and technology under a consumer society as the notion of hierarchy evolved from absolute hierarchy to supreme consumer distance, during the transition from an agrarian to an industrial society. Whereas in the past agricultural societies, people relied on hierarchy to solve the problem of differentiation, in industrial societies, and especially in consumer societies, people see consumer hierarchy as the hierarchy. The consumer hierarchy is soaked into the hearts of every ordinary person, and everyone has the most basic knowledge of fashion in their hearts, so it is not possible to make a simple judgement about fashion just in terms of social ethics, luxury and fairness.


Fashion has the highest commercial added value in the economy and society, which is now the most active vehicle for the participation of artists in society. According to Pan Changxue, fashion has the ability to drive the rapid spread of culture, and if we abandon such a position, it will be detrimental to the spread of Chinese culture. Therefore, design needs to pay attention to fashion, and there needs to be a sense of creating fashion and leading fashion in design activities.