The role of aesthetics in design education
Leverage of creativity through concrete and abstract form exploration
Design education has undergone transformations over time, although less emphasis has been placed on developing core areas such as form and aesthetics. Learning processes in design education are creative and comprehensive, but to an extent, learning has become a mission with a large focus on relevance and societal benefits. The designer’s role has become somewhat more instrumental, and designers’ function more often as facilitators than creators. Nevertheless, form and aesthetics are important competences that enable students to work creatively with both processes and results. As creators, design students need to develop their personal comprehension of forms and aesthetic expressions. This article demonstrates how aesthetics are activated through assignments and exercises that leverage awareness and experiences of concrete forms and abstractions. The assignments and exercises were given to bachelor’s degree and master’s degree students in Product Design at Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway, and to students from all levels (bachelor’s, master’s and PhD) at UNESP, Bauru in Brazil. Aesthetic awareness relates to perception and abstract form principles demonstrated through assignments and exercises, including various dramaturgies, results, and reflections. Examples demonstrate how haptic experiences change the way students perceive forms and spaces, particularly when the visual senses are muted or removed. Based on the students’ reflections and the results of the exercises, knowledge achieved through their explorations is equally valuable beyond the actual properties of forms and the engagement of personal affect from the creative processes.
Keywords: aesthetic awareness, abstraction, comprehension of form, creativity, design education
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