Glasgow School of Art Degree Show, 2016

As the late Bill Moggridge once said, “everything is designed”. Our world is a construct, dreamt up and made by humans. Therefore it can be reimagined to adapt to the changing desires and needs of a radically evolving society, culture, environment, and economy. This is easier said than done, since we are inclined to not question the infrastructure around us that makes up the reality of our everyday existence. In what felt like a turbulent year, the Product Design graduates of 2016 were challenged to identify the latent or emergent shifts taking place; to look ahead into an uncertain and unimagined future; and to ask the right questions as the starting point for a design brief. This is what it means to confront reality. 

The branding of our degree show focused on reflecting the diverse range of topics that were confronted, whilst showcasing our ability to make sense out of complexity: from framing the problem, to synthesising research findings, to clearly communicating the outcomes. Using these principles, the graduates aimed to imagine aspirational alternatives to the flaws of our current reality. 

"Design and society, designers and social life, are inextricably linked. This relationship goes far beyond the simple fact of makers making, or proposing solutions to problems, and even exceeds a desire to fashion nice things for people to use or consume. The interaction of design and society expressed through the study of Product Design at The Glasgow School of Art is best understood as a way of thinking about the world, of who lives in it, of how we live, how we relate to others, and – crucially – how we might live going forward. In this sense, design is not just a medium for expressing things materially, but a mode of exploration and dialogue that utilises the visible and the tangible as a form of communication. This is not “design thinking,” this is design as thought, as the exercise of the intellect.

In abandoning the comfortable world of traditional design – in choosing not to offer the world more toasters, TVs and flatpack furniture – the graduating cohort of 2016 tell us something about themselves and about the future of design as they give it voice. They teach us that design is social, that it can be used to think in a critical fashion about how we live now and how we might prefer to live, that thinking through making is an invaluable means of testing new ideas, and that design as process, practice and profession is evolving in response to the demands made by the society that surrounds it.

Gordon Hush, Head of Product Design

In collaboration with 

Will Brown
Robyn Johnston
Josefine Leonhardt
Paul Omoniyi
Rosie Trudgen