Field Reports Hong Kong Blur

Today we stopped by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Design to see for ourselves how design education is being thought of in this part of the world. Dean Lorraine Justice along with Professor Martin Smith (both at HDL 2008) talked about the need to educate designers as teachers. Many trained designers find themselves teaching studio at one point or another, but what training do we have to write curriculum or even shape well-crafted exercises? Naturally one is armed with the implicit techniques and ideas that they pick up through their own schooling, but teaching is its own art and teaching design is particularly special. To address this issue HKPU will be offering a new Masters of Design (Design Education) in the fall, along with new degrees in Design Strategies, Design Practices, and Interaction Design.

There are too many things to mention, but while taking a tour of HPKU with Babbette Strousse (HDL 2008) we quickly got to see a unique research project. Size China's proposition is simple: all product designers use human factors information at some point. Why rely on the same old Measure of Man and Woman when different ethic backgrounds, ages, and body types each have their own physical characteristics?

Researchers here have scanned upwards of 2000 people from six major regions of China to produce a sort of virtual reference model for Chinese head types. Captured with a 3D scanner, these data points may be aggregated and averaged to produce a more accurate reference point for the design of bodily products. Companies spend millions of dollars on segmenting their customers into target markets, why not apply this same intelligence to the design of physical objects and provide local or regional solutions to global problems?