A Career in Design

Session 1 DEFSA Writing Workshop

This workshop session was geared towards young design academics who are compiling academic research papers, and is helpful to all educators finalising their papers for the DEFSA 2023 Conference in September 2023. It covered: • Structure of an academic paper • Building an argument • Academic paper writing do's and don'ts • Referencing • Checklist before submitting

Presenters: Dr Sue Giloi - Inscape Education Group (South Africa) Dr Yolandi Burger - Loughborough University (United Kingdom) Dr Ria van Zyl - Vega School (South Africa)

Taking a broad definition of design and drawing on the shared histories and legacies of settler colonialism in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, The Politics of Design offers a wide-ranging comparative study that focuses specifically on the role of design in creating and perpetuating the privileges and prejudices of racial hierarchies.

Inscape, the first private higher education institution to be validated by the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP).

When students listen in lectures, often they are taking part in the discussion, thinking what they want to say, and often simply distracted by their environment for a few minutes. But I also don't want them so busy note-taking they don't engage with discussions.

Having pre-lecture handouts gives anxious learners an opportunity to prepare on the topic. Post-lecture handouts and assessments "fix" the information in memory. The secret to handouts, is to make it more than the bullet list from the slides or keywords they would have already noted down.

The future learning ecosystem–a holistic, lifelong, personalized learning paradigm–represents a contrast to the Industrial Age model of time-focused, one-size-fits-all learning. It promises to substantively change the way we learn, moving away from old models of disconnected experiences to a connected continuum of lifelong learning, personalized, driven by data, and delivered across diverse locations, media, and periods of time.

DEFSA Member institutions - do you have an outstanding design student struggling to finance their post-graduate studies?

Mandela Rhodes scholarships are open to young Africans who have demonstrated that they embody the founding principles of reconciliation, education, entrepreneurship, and leadership. The funds will help students in covering up their tuition fees and living expenses.

The applicant must meet the following eligibility criteria to apply for the scholarship:

In her keynote speech at the Global Design Thinking Conference 2020, Jeanne Liedtka, Professor of Business Administration at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, talked about using Design Thinking as a way to foster inclusion and dialogue across difference.

It’s not always easy to spot flaws in research papers. Sometimes an error is glaringly obvious - like a vague abstract with no aim and little data - and other times it’s like finding a needle in a stack of pins. . Luckily, the solution isn’t all that prickly. The trick is knowing what to look for during peer review, where to find it and, importantly, how severe the error is.

To help with this, we’ve pulled together a list of six common flaws you can watch out for as a reviewer.


Wagdy Sawahel  
December 2019

“African universities have not caught up on tackling fake news, either as research or teaching,” said Idayat Hassan, director of the Centre for Democracy and Development, a Nigeria-based policy advocacy and research organisation.

“Sometimes, students spend hours online but are not able to discern a phony URL that is pushing a contentious issue,” she told University World News.


With democracies around the world threatened by an unstoppable onslaught of false information, Finland – recently rated Europe’s most resistant nation to fake news – takes the fight seriously enough to teach it in school.
So how do you teach school kids spot slippery information?
“Fairytales work well. Take the wily fox who always cheats the other animals with his sly words,” says Kivinen, a local education professional. “That’s not a bad metaphor for a certain kind of politician, is it?”


"We need to empower our students with both technological and social skills," said Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Johannesburg at the recent USAf-hosted National Higher Education Conference.


The author(s) has spent dozens, perhaps hundreds of hours doing research and writing this paper. They have put their faith in the reviewing system – that’s you – and there is probably a lot riding on whether it gets published.

DEFSA was invited to send an observer to the The Design Declaration Pre-Summit in Saint-Etienne, in preparation for next Design Declaration Summits scheduled for 2020/21 and 2023/24.

The two days were dedicated to three key projects proposed in the Montréal Design Declaration:

The Fourteenth International Conference on Design Principles & Practices will feature plenary sessions by some of the world’s leading thinkers and innovators in the field. For design practitioners, a central paradox of our times is the increasing specialization, on the one hand, but on the other, the need for more broad-ranging and holistic integration of design tasks, working between and across design disciplines. Design is becoming an ever-more social, indeed sociable, process.

"Educating Citizen Designers in South Africa is the first book of its kind to appear in post-apartheid South Africa and it is therefore both overdue and extremely welcome. The book aims at sharing critical citizenship design teaching and learning pedagogies by including contributions from a range of design educators, and one student, who work in different design disciplines, such as architecture, graphic and product design.

DEFSA held a successful abstract writing workshop on the 14 th of September aimed at encouraging members to write abstracts for the DEFSA 2019 conference. The workshop was hosted by Inscape Cape Town while simulcasts were run at Tshwane University of Technology and Nelson Mandela University. Over 40 design educators, facilitators and postgraduate students participated in the workshop.

A Nigerian waste management company is turning Nigeria’s discarded waste into stunning furniture and home décor.  Pearl Recycling is creatively solving one of Nigeria’s most pressing issues – waste management.

A few years ago, Olamide Ayeni-Babajide was on a trip to the United Arab Emirates. The social entrepreneur and founder of the Nigeria-based Pearl Recycling walked into a furniture store and was immediately drawn to a home décor piece in the form of a flower.

Dr Andrew Kaniki, Executive Director: Knowledge Advancement and Support of the NRF

Professional Practice-based research was the topic of a recent workshop organized by the Design Education Forum of Southern Africa (DEFSA) on 8 June 2018.

Design graduate Florian Wegenast has created furniture that incorporates plant holders, as a way of maximising green space in tight urban environments.

In October of each year, Dutch Design Week (DDW) takes place in Eindhoven. The biggest design event in Northern Europe presents work and ideas of more than 2500 designers to more than 295,000 visitors from home and abroad. In more than hundred locations across the city, DDW organises and facilitates exhibitions, lectures, prize ceremonies, networking events, debates and festivities. 

Art and Design Pedagogy in Higher Education provides a contemporary volume that offers a scholarly perspective on tertiary level art and design education. Providing a theoretical lens to examine studio education, the authors suggest a student-centred model of curriculum that supports the development of creativity.

Let’s accept it, doing a PhD can be intellectually challenging, physically tiring and emotionally draining. Your attitude and motivations will have a huge influence on your success

, Professor and Higher Education Studies PhD Co-ordinator, Rhodes University suggest five things to think about if you’re considering a doctorate.

The SAMIP Innovation Challenge is for South African projects and organisations that are building news and information products that engage and inform local/underserved communities, by:

  • searching for new ways to connect people with information,
  • exploring new business models, distribution mechanisms and/or revenue generation opportunities, or
  • creating platforms within existing news outlets for citizen reporting through mobile technology

The deadline for our initial funding cycle is midnight on October 31, 2017.

The following is an open letter from Professors Victor Margolin and Ezio Manzini urging all designers to act and respond to the crisis affecting democracy.

The letter invites designers to consider and discuss opportunities in their own practices for enhancing processes of democratization. To be transformative, social innovation has to consider the direction of the desired transformation.

Pat Thomson, Professor of Education in the School of Education at The University of Nottingham

This three part series by Pat Thomson, Professor of Education in the School of Education at The University of Nottingham in the UK makes interesting reading for Peer Reviewers. Please note that the opinions and reviewing style of the author may not represent DEFSA's peer review process.

Academics are trying to rid South Africa’s universities of the procedures, values, norms, practices, thinking, beliefs and choices that mark anything non-European and not white as inferior. Professor of English Language Teaching and Literacy Development, Rhodes University discusses the issue.


The theme of the 2017 DEFSA Conference is "Decolonise!" If you have an appropriate "blog post" or article for this website, please contact web@defsa.org.za

Lesley Le Grange
Distinguished Professor of Curriculum Studies, Stellenbosch University

Source: www.theconversation.com

Design school prepares you for a career in the real world of design, and helps you create a design portfolio. But it can't teach you everything.

With that in mind, we've talked to some successful creative professionals and gleaned what they wished they knew when they were studying design.

Submitted by: Fred Deakin, Professor at University of the Arts London.

It's a confusing time to be a young creative. We are in the middle of the biggest cultural and technological revolution in centuries, and anyone who tells you they know what the digital world will look like in six months, let alone six years, is a liar.

Source: Adele Thomas, University of Johannesburg

Academic plagiarism is no longer just sloppy “cut and paste” jobs or students cribbing large chunks of an assignment from a friend’s earlier essay on the same topic. These days, students can simply visit any of a number of  paper or essay mills that litter the internet and buy a completed assignment to present as their own.

Source: Suné Stassen, Creative Director: Rock City Foundation

You don’t have to want to become a designer to study design. Maybe you’re thinking about becoming an engineer, an architect, a teacher, a musician, a writer, an economist…

Source: Suné Stassen, Creative Director: Rock City Foundation

Choosing a Design course at a Tertiary Institution will be influenced by factors aside from the course content they are interested in - such as availability, affordability and proximity.

Source: Suné Stassen, Creative Director: Rock City Foundation

Design is a wide field spanning different industries and disciplines. In South Africa, some sectors of Design are well developed, while others are emerging. Increasingly, South African Design is taking its place on the international stage, and there is exciting potential being developed all the time. Design has also been introduced as a high school subject, and while curricula have been thoughtfully devised, it will still take some time for the subject to mature.

Industrial designers work to improve the function, value and aesthetics of products like iPods, cars, guitars, and even telephones. The industrial designers aren’t usually tasked with coming up with the overall design or something complex like a car, but they may be in charge of impacting the technical aspects of the overall design by considering the usability and aesthetics of the design.

Christopher Cashdollar's pro tips will get you thinking beyond the pixel and on a path towards long-term professional relevance.

Design 'talent' can only advance your career so far. If you want to be more than just a flash in the pan, you need to diversify your skills and evolve beyond just slinging the hottest pixels. If longevity is an important aspect of your web design career, start preparing to expand your talents.

Source: Design Institute of Australia

If you’re thinking of a career as a professional designer, there are some important things you need to know before making your decision.

Good news

The good news is that design – in all its many fields – can deliver great challenges, give you an outlet for your creative drive, and provide you with the satisfaction of seeing tangible results from your working life. ‘Look! I designed that!’

There’s nothing like the buzz of creativity, especially when it’s your own.

Doug Bartow, and his colleagues at id29 share 29 things they think all new designers need to know.

Throughout the years, I’ve collected these questions and have tried answering many of them as an ongoing personal project. Here are 29 of my thoughts on how to approach and interact with our culture as a young designer, in no particular order.

Folding bike helmets, smoke alarms that send you text messages and a syringe that remains colourless when stored in its sterile pack, but changes colour when opened.are among the innovative solutions that make up the Design Museum's Designs of the Year shortlist, announced on Monday.

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.

DEFSA conferences

DEFSA promotes relevant research with the focus on design + education through its biennial conferences, to promote professionalism, accountability and ethics in the education of young designers. Our next conference is a hybrid event. See above for details.

Critical skills endorsement

Professional Members in good standing can receive a certificate of membership, but DEFSA cannot provide confirmation or endorsement of skills whatsoever. DEFSA only confirm membership of DEFSA which is a NPO for Design Education in South Africa (https://www.defsa.org.za/imagine).