Preserving the Craft of Thinking

roundtable – 90 min | Feb 4 – 10:30

How can we protect and propagate conceptual methods in curricula and temper the trend towards tactical mindsets? We’ll share research conducted with students, faculty and hiring managers to seed a discussion with IxDA’s community of passionate practitioners and educators.

A portfolio-obsessed design culture at universities leads to a diminishing of the conceptual activities that we believe will produce the next great crop of designers. Unfeasible deadlines and agile methodologies in work environments reinforce this culture where thinking feels unbillable.

We will kick off our discussion sharing our own experience with the problem in the field and as educators, and by sharing research we conducted with university-level art/design educators, undergrad/grad students, and creative hiring managers on the topic of foundations versus portfolios and in-demand skills. Branching off of that, our discussion topics will include the pressure of trends versus foundations and conceptual exercises, the balance of time to master both technical and conceptual skills, how to support both conceptual students who might have tension with tactical/apprentice mode and portfolio-focused students who don’t know how to think, the value of templates vs open-ended prompts, and whether in-person teaching is uniquely capable of facilitating greater conceptual thinking.

Does this jive with your experience? What conceptual exercises were valued by both you and your students? Come discuss!

Jodi Leo

Jodi Leo
SVA IxD, RISD

Erica Heinz

Erica Heinz
SVA IxD, Parsons

About the speakers

Jodi Leo

Jodi Leo

SVA IxD, RISD
Jodi Leo is a Providence-based designer and educator. She has designed and helped ship dozens of digital products across form factors – desktop to wearable – for big companies and startups alike. In addition to a thriving practice, Jodi teaches and advises at SVA IxD and RISD. She was part of a team that received a People’s Choice Award from IxDA in 2013. Jodi’s mantra is: lead by example.

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Erica Heinz

Erica Heinz

SVA IxD, Parsons
Erica Heinz is a Brooklyn-based designer, developer, and creative consultant. With over a decade of experience in web design and development, she’s worked with both large corporations and lean start-ups. She manages projects from strategy and IA all the way through to development and support. She lives by one mantra: “Let’s make the world a better place.”

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