Design as a career

Source: Design Institute of SA

There is a rapidly growing awareness of the need for designers in South Africa. Therefore career opportunities are increasing in number and variety. Complement your latent talent and qualification with initiative, enterprise, enthusiasm, commitment and perseverance, and the sky is the limit.

What kind of person do I need to be?

No one personality type is more suited than others to a career in design. However, it is an intellectually demanding activity and there are some abilities and character traits that will stand you in good stead. Designers must be able to develop and apply ideas creatively. They must have a highly developed visual sense and judgement and they must also be able to communicate their ideas verbally and on paper. Since most design projects depend on teamwork and cooperation, designers must work well with people from different backgrounds and with different opinions.

What is a Designer?

The importance of designers in the economic and industrial development of the country, their role in cultural industries and also affecting social change, is receiving growing acknowledgement and support in our country.

The difficulty in predicting the career path of designers remains, however, one of the important differences between a design career and a more conventional profession. Often it is this uncertainty that is the main reason why it is difficult to provide career guidance and the reason for concern about job security and opportunities.

Design careers cover a wide variety of specialisations, and opportunities are constantly changing with new specialisations emerging and the boundaries between the existing disciplines disappearing due to the development of new technologies. More often than not designers have to be the creators of their own career opportunities.

Design is an intellectually demanding activity. It is the meeting point between technology and the arts and often an important cultural manifestation. Although many people do operate as self-taught designers, it is imperative that a good basic education be the starting point. Training in design will equip the prospective designer with the relevant techniques, properties of materials, production methods and latest trends.

The complexity can range from designing road signs to an aircraft or a television set. To complicate matters, different connotations and semantic interpretations are linked to the different design disciplines. For the purposes of this guide, a distinction is made between Design and Engineering Design and Architecture. Engineering Design includes civil, mechanical, production, electrical and electronic design and is mainly concerned with a products performance and production. Design includes product design, often referred to as industrial design; spatial or interior design; clothing and textile design; and graphic design also referred to as information design. These disciplines tend to require a more artistic background and training than Engineering Design.

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