How are the architects, interior designers and product designers of tomorrow prepared for their future careers? Why is taking part in competitions so important for this group? And how do industrial companies benefit from the ideas created by up-and-coming talent? Hettich and Rehau spoke to three lecturers at international universities to find out. Their responses reveal that an undistorted view of the world can open up a wealth of new perspectives.
What does design mean to you?
Professor Elena Tolstykh: In our faculty, design forms the basis for a number of degree courses. Even students who don't specifically want to become designers often apply design techniques and design-based thinking while studying.
Professor Zhao XiaoMao: Design represents a designer's ideal. Designers' innovations help consumers to live a healthy lifestyle and promote the sustainable use of our environment in society.
Professor Victor Bragin: First and foremost, design is a process. Design is also the physical outcome of a project – it can manifest itself as an industrial model or an actual object. And for most working designers, design is a way of life. Because it is a multifaceted, interdisciplinary subject, design lecturers must base their programmes on this complexity.
Do you think that competitions provide a good opportunity for students to experience the entire creative process, from the initial idea to the finished product?
Elena Tolstykh: We welcome any form of design competition for our students. Normally, our graduates tend to leave university with various certificates and prizes, which reflect a very high level of professionalism. This is revealed both in the first few sketches and drafts as well as existing projects.
Zhao XiaoMao: The future belongs to the younger generation. This why the International Design Award, for instance, focuses on students and gives them a chance to use their designs to show what they think life will be like in the future. This competition is a very successful platform for students all over the world who want to release their creativity.
Victor Bragin: Yes, I think that any type of competition is a good chance to find one's proper path. It is important for students to receive genuine feedback from industry and design studios. Taking part in competitions therefore plays a major role in the learning process for all Masters' students in my product design studio.
Can companies benefit from ideas created by up-and-coming talent?
Elena Tolstykh: We believe that companies are always in need of new design ideas. They need ideas from people with an undistorted view of the world and our environment – people who don't think conventionally, even though their projects may not always seem finished or completely logical. Young designers don't have years of experience to tie them down. They attempt to create things with complete disregard for any laws of nature. A perpetual motion machine can only be invented by someone who is unaware that it's impossible.
Zhao XiaoMao: Students have a flexible thought process and are inquisitive about the future. Their ideas and desires are an important driving force in design evolution. Carefully studying the creative solutions submitted by applicants enables companies to gain a better understanding of future trends.
Victor Bragin: Without a doubt! My graduate Olga Kalugina finished seventh in the 2009 International Design Award and her idea garnered her plenty of recognition from the organisers, Hettich and Rehau. After all, the main focus for competition organisers who sort through submissions from thousands of applicants is to uncover talented young designers.