Mork calling Orson, come in Orson

Is there a business opportunity waiting out
there?
What does it take to operate a business?
Is there a market out there?
What are the risks and challenges?
Where do I start?

Familiar questions to any design students who are about to emerge from design school and into the commercial market.
So how do we help our up and coming designers to enter the market(s) as well prepared as possible for the rough and tumble of it all?

On Monday 27th and Tuesday 28th April students from Product and Object Design at Unitec undertook a Business for Designers course. The course was a partnership between Unitec's Generator Programme, WHK Gosling Chapman and DINZ and was fully funded by NZTE.

Certainly, designers are particularly well placed to develop entrepreneurial skills. They are by definition creative thinkers who in their training often think about and work with the products of business – consumer goods, engineering   products, communications, graphics, etc. They come to the business table from a different angle to most business students in that they come from the creative side, but that’s all to the good, because creativity has never been more important in business than it is today. A designer with a good head for business is very likely to make a good business person, especially capable of generating powerful new product and service concepts and business ideas. 

But there is resistance to business training in design education. Many design students have no immediate desire to start their own business, and many other students consider business training to be either irrelevant or boring. Some design teaching staff share the same negative view of business teaching, feeling that academic work should concentrate on developing students’ creativity and improving their conceptual thinking.
Proponents of business education in design schools may argue that creative training in design education is obviously vital, but that it should be given a business context since business is most likely to be its end use. Some art and design schools offer business modules. The trick is to make them engaging and useful.

One of the important features of the course we have just run has been that the students received the opportunity to network with peers within and outside of their discipline and with industry training specialist. It is now becoming well established that when students engage with people outside the confines of their own area study, their learning is amplified, and that breaking down the barriers between the various design disciplines is generally beneficial.

Many thanks to Damien Bennett, Katrian and Sarah at WHK Gosling Chapman for the excellent 2 day event.

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