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James Dyson Sets Up the Dyson School of Design Innovation.


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July 10, 2006

James Dyson Sets Up the Dyson School of Design Innovation.

Bruce Nussbaum

Here's a flash. James Dyson, the inventor of many things, including a best-selling vacuum cleaner, is establishing a new school for design innovation in Bath, England. This is very big news. Note the age of the students--and the fact that the school itself will be innovatively designed to foster creativity and innovation.

Here is the PR release:

"The Dyson School of Design Innovation: UK’s first National Centre of Excellence for design, engineering and enterprise.

James Dyson today launches a new kind of school to encourage Britain’s next generation of engineers, designers, inventors and entrepreneurs.

The Dyson School of Design Innovation opens in Bath in September 2008. It is a unique private/public initiative. The James Dyson Foundation – a longstanding educational charity – and a number of leading engineering and hi-tech partners are working with the Department for Education & Skills (DfES), the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and the South West of England Regional Development Agency (South West RDA).

Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Williams F1 are getting involved, too. They are donating prototypes to inspire and take pride of place in the school's vast atrium, as well as involving their own engineers in the School through an industry mentoring programme.

The School will offer young people practical programmes in engineering, design and enterprise. Students will have hands-on experience of the latest technology - more often seen in industrial research and development centres.

2,500 students from Bath and the surrounding area will attend the school every week. 16-to-18-year-olds will attend full time and 14-to-16-year-olds one day a week.

As a National Centre of Excellence, the school also aims to:

§ Encourage young engineering talent from around the UK to hone skills and fast-track to foundation degree courses, during residential holiday courses

§ Provide teachers with specialist modules to use in their own schools

§ Open opportunities for adult learners who are considering a change in career, or for those who simply want to upgrade their skills."

Dyson is joining with various sectors of British government to open this innovative school teaching design innovation.

There is a huge amount of public policy work going on in Europe in the space of innovation, design and creativity. I fear that in the U.S., we are stuck in a rut of the federal government defining innovation just in terms of technology and pouring more money into engineering, science and math (yes, it's a good thing but only necessary, not nearly sufficient). Washington sponsors the annual National Design Awards contest through the Cooper Hewitt and that is a good thing too (lunch with Laura Bush was today, Monday. This year Nike won, as did MOMA's Paola Antonelli and 2x4, Maria Cornejo, Bill Stumpf and others. But the National Design Awards program could use more focus (do they go for lifetime achievement or to current great projects or to what?). I think the awards are a wonderful thing but what, as a nation, do we want to reward in design?

Washington doesn't get it on several fronts:

Invention does not automatically equate to innovation and technology and science do not automatically equate to creativity. Europe--meaning Britain, Scandanavia, the Netherlands and Italy in particular, do get design. They get it in terms of education, in terms of effecting social policy, in terms of generating economic growth, jobs and wealth. We really need to work on this in the U.S. It's not just about more money for design. It's about thinking about design thinking.

08:16 PM

Creativity

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I’m suspicious of Dyson's approach, which looks like an old idea in a new box. Design schools with professional partnerships are neither new, nor inherently innovative. Arranging students in a circle to interact with experts is just another box.

In an earlier post on this blog, The Quality Movement Vs. The Innovation Movement, the issue was how long it took for quality to become a top priority. Quality didn’t become a priority in the U.S. until Japanese manufacturers began producing better products than their U.S. counterparts. The Japanese had to fail first to embrace quality first. The rest of the world then took quality seriously.

Innovation for the sake of innovation, like growth for the sake of growth, is based on the same principle as cancer. It's self serving and self consuming. Innovation that serves the sustainable use of resoruces, however, is innovation with a future. If it’s going to take time to evolve to a new model, designers should be focused on an environmental quality model. Bruce Mau Design in Toronto is committed to the process of sustainability through design. That is a model worth integrating.

Is Dyson’s school a center for innovation? Or is it a monument to Dyson?

Posted by: Chas Martin at July 11, 2006 12:14 AM

RE: …Europe–meaning Britain, Scandanavia, the Netherlands and Italy in particular, do get design. They get it in terms of education, in terms of effecting social policy, in terms of generating economic growth, jobs and wealth. We really need to work on this in the U.S. It's not just about more money for design. It's about thinking about design thinking.

COMMENT:

I also would put Germany on your list of countries where re-thinking design thinking is commonplace. I will be entering the Fall 2006 fulltime MBA class at the Zollverein School of Management and Design (zollverein-school.de/) in Essen. With its international orientation, interdisciplinary study opportunities and its physical setting, there is no other school like it in Europe, and, of course, in the United States (IIT and Stanford: close, but no cigar). The school opened in 2004 and has matched its mouth to its money. First off, it is located in a formally depressed coal mining area “designed” and initially funded by various government entities to bring about jobs and economic growth in the region. Secondly, “the school is unique in that it is neither a business school nor a design school, but rather an institution where those different disciplines define a space of mutual respect,” says Zollverein founder and president Prof. Ralph Bruder.

This school is “designed” to create models where thinking about people, society and the environment come first, and in many cases, a simultaneous effort. This re-thinking from both sides of the brain is “designed” to hopefully generate wealth – in spirit and in a tangible sense. The master’s degree is in management and DESIGN, and not innovation. Innovation is a product of design thinking. Zollverein (pronounced tsOl´furIn´) is even housed in a fabulous building especially “designed” to engage the senses and synergies of left and right brainiacs. Quite an innovation!

As an American designer, I badly need this international perspective on business and design thinking simply because the world appears to be growing smaller. The MBA also will better equip me to consult with U.S. corporate heads on the value of integrating design strategy into existing business models or creating new models, and to discover ways to keep all parties interested. It would behoove other business and design professionals in the U.S. to re-think, re-design or re-invent their careers and perhaps take such a step.

Read NextD Leadership Institute GK VanPatter’s interview with Prof. Ralph Bruder on Zollverein:

nextd.org/02/09/01/index.html.

Zollverein’s School of Management and Design building and architects: detail.de/Archiv/En/HoleArtikel/5592/Artikel.

Innovation is the New Black. DesignObserver’s Michael Bierut and a timeless thread: designobserver.com/archives/008049.html.

Posted by: DWatkins at July 13, 2006 02:30 PM

While I agree that Washington doesn't get it (see my 20005 piece U.K. Leads; U.S. Lags - http://www.athenaalliance.org/apapers/UKleads.html), I am hopeful that the trio of Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Business at the Univeristy of Toronto; David Kelly, the Design Engineering Professor at Stanford and founder of the D-School; and Patrick Whitney, the Director of the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology can change our perspective.

Posted by: Ken Jarboe at July 14, 2006 05:01 PM

I MUST HAVE OVER 100 INVENTIONS,FROM TOOLS TOO WET SUITS;EVEN AN ENGINE / GENERATOR THAT NEEDS NO FUEL HAS ONE MOVING PART,ZERO FRICTION AND WORKS ON IMPLODION.I NEED HELP FROM SOMEWHERE,INDUSTRY,GOVERNMENT EVEN.CAN YOU HELP? SINCERLY RICHARD LEMM

Posted by: richard lemm at July 16, 2006 10:03 AM

Design for the mainstream is great for the U.S. - think Target and Apple.

However, I think the issue comes down to people willing to be more risk averse and the "will I be well respected if I go take these risks...will anyone take me back or respect me if I reach high and fail while others don't get up off the couch?" Thomas Edison had to try and try again for the light bulb. Insert Teddy Roosevelt's "Man in the Arena" excerpt here.

Designers are not celebrated in the U.S. - sports starts, got-rich-quick folks and billionare socialites are. Dean Kamen, Burt Rutan, James Dyson and those in the "green" movement need to be put in the spotlight more. The media thinks the there's no audience for it; that mainstream is too dumb or unattentive to understand - I think this is quite rude on the part of the media. I'm a tremendous fan of BusinessWeek's committment to displaying design and innovation as a huge factor as it relates to the performance of a business and the fun the employess have. I fear America won't promote design until it gets a it's butt kicked very publically - think Sputnik.

Posted by: phoenix at July 19, 2006 03:42 AM

The current kick in the butt - the auto industry. However, now corporate and government PR “spins” everything efforts of the "other folks" who did indeed just kicked our butt to either not matter or state that they are headed in the wrong direction. If you say it enough times, does it really stick? hmmm...

I like Dyson's school idea. In the U.S., more money to study harder and not smarter doesn't help. We should use our competitive advantage of having fun and play with tools of the trade - these are proven way to gain leaps in design. The proven ways for other countries is minimum resources.

Kids with design education in secondary school is great, just be aware they may hit a brick wall when then get to the rigorous, no fun, traditional higher education system.

Why aren't U.S. business screaming for more innovative college science/engineering programs?

Too many U.S. businesses is too obssessed with the macro-one-size-fits-all-so-it's-simple-to-make-mentality and cost cutting - it cuts value and quality and morale in workers creations too. There are too many who settle for "good enough."

Google suceeds because they delight their customers and employees with their wildest dreams.

The idea is NOT ready, aim, fire. In Zen, it's ready, fire, aim. The Zen approach teaches reality, not something imagined or something you just have to put near blind faith in.

Posted by: phoenix at July 19, 2006 03:22 PM


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