Next stop: CIID


I’m really excited to say that my next stop will be a year studying at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, starting in September. The course – described as a pilot course for a future master’s programme – looks great, I’m very much looking forward to meeting the people involved and some of the current students, in late August/early September, and diving into lots of unknowns in the following months. It’s also stirred up a whole bunch of thoughts and ideas….

Since applying a couple of months back, and through my interview and consequent offer of a place last month (and the final confirmation that the course will be running, yesterday), a catalyst, some perspective, and some reading have brought various thoughts together.

First of all, it’s brought me back to the unanswerable and always shifting question of what I am, what my field is, where I my niche is. I studied Industrial design; since graduating I’ve worked as a service designer and design strategist; now I’ll be adding interaction designer to that list. I’m not sure it necessarily matters what I call myself, but it’s still a question of knowing or thinking about where my strengths lie and what directions I want to go in, can go in, am heading, and any new job or studies brings that up (or at least should, if it’s pushing me into new areas and out of comfort zones). I’ve certainly got a better handle on that now than a year ago – my time at Radarstation clarified lots of things for me in that regard, I think – but a neat summary remains elusive. All of the above and none of the above, I suspect.

Secondly, I’ve been doing lots of thinking about education, both design education and more generally. In addition to my application, interview, acceptance and now confirmation of CIID, there was the Made in Brunel show last month – a year after my own graduation from that course, it’s interesting to look at this years student work and talk with those just finishing with the perspective and distance that come with not being involved, and looking back at my own educational experiences at Brunel, both good and bad. I  also went to the RCA degree show last weekend, looking especially at the Design Products and Design Interactions sections, and pondering other directions that might have been or might be: although the course at CIID is a cousin of the Design Interactions course (via Ivrea IID, it stems from the CRD at the RCA, which evolved into the current DI programme), it is a very different course, in structure, content, and approach. It’s always interesting to reflect on what different vectors I might be on had I gone somewhere else for my undergraduate studies, and again now: the courses at CIID (Copenhagen), RCA (London),  IIT (Chicago) and others are each vastly different, yet all somehow speak to some part of me and the possibilities of each potential direction excite me in different ways.

With broader, more sweeping thoughts on education, I’ve also doing some more indepth reading relating to the United World Colleges, Atlantic College in particular, international education in general, and the educational philosophies of Kurt Hahn, and enjoying thinking how they fit together with my own journey thus far (both pre and post my time at AC) and my next steps in Copenhagen. The book Schools Across Frontiers in particular, together with various articles and essays, filled in a lot of gaps for me about the founding of the UWC movement, and connected a lot of the dots around the founding philosophies and how they’ve evolved over the years into what I experienced 2002-4 in Wales. CIID’s aim of “co-creating a new kind of education” has echos of some of the early thinking from when Atlantic College (“the most exciting experiment in education since the Second World War[The Times, 1962]) was first conceived. When I briefly visited CIID with Radarstation last year there was a palpable buzz and excitement to be involved in somewhere new, pushing boundaries, together with an international and interesting bunch of people, in a way I haven’t felt since ’04. Here’s hoping it’s a similarly enriching and inspiring experience.

Hopefully some of these thoughts and connections swirling around will settle down into some coherent threads, if that is even possible given that both streams of thought are very much moving targets. I’ll certainly do my best to write about my experiences and reflections in Denmark as they happen over the coming year, and try and draw connections between the various bits.

For now, though, it’s just good to be out of limbo, and to be all excited about what the future might hold!

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