As editor-in-chief of Core77 magazine, Allan Chochinov, 50, has been a leading voice in the design world for years. But when the School of Visual Arts in New York asked him to create a design program, he found himself in the unexpected position of explaining why it might not necessarily be a good idea. "I said to them, 'it doesn't make sense to make a classic industrial design program now. We don't need more mass produced things!'"
Instead, Chochinov talked about new kinds of artifacts and about stewardship, craft, systems, and stuff created based on design thinking. And, to his surprise, the school asked him to write up how these things could be taught in a graduate program. "So I put together a roadmap -- a kind of manifesto. And they really trusted me. Since I was able to start completely from scratch, it was a scary but privileged proposition," Chochinov says.
Over the course of 17 years of teaching, Chochinov says he has always told his thesis students that they "should do the thesis that only they can do, not just what they can pull off," Chochinov says. "So to chair the program, I wanted to bring a personal point of view -- a pedagogy that resonated with real world concerns, but which was also informed by a lot of experience...."
Ultimately, Chochinov ended up with the MFA Products of Design program, the result of hundreds of hours of interviews with peers, mentors, leading design thinkers, and folks in the industry. The more he had conversations with people he trusted, the more it was obvious to him what the program should look like. When asked how he ended up here, he laughs "I never had a plan, and always envied those who did. But it seems a lot of opportunity chooses you in some sense, so I'm grateful for the chance to re-imagine a slice of what the future of design education can be."
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