I talk enough about design for kids here on Babble Dabble Do that I thought is was high time I clarified why I think it’s so important for you and your kids to know about. So I decided to dedicate a page to it! Here is your primer on Design for Kids.
First off what is design?
To the average person design might be synonymous with art or you might think it’s a snobby profession where people dream up fancy and expensive products. Well I’d like to counter this popular belief about design and say this: Design is all around you. Look at the chair you are sitting on, the computer or phone you are reading this on, the glass that holds the water you are drinking, all of that has been designed. That’s right, every single man-made object is a design, for better or worse.
Design differs from art in that the outcome is not solely a beautiful object or artwork, but rather the product has some useful purpose. A building may be aesthetically pleasing but it houses activities inside and combines structural logic with environmental factors. All design does this in some capacity. Some designs rely more heavily on aesthetics but ultimately the look of a product might be the design feature that draws someone to it. Ever wonder why people pay more for Apple Products? Because they are beautiful. But we wouldn’t want to keep using them if they also weren’t so user friendly. In short aesthetics plays a major role in design but ultimately the end product must also be useful.
Here are a few things design IS and IS NOT:
Design IS problem-solving
Design IS making something useful AND beautiful
Design IS what happens when science, art, and technology intersect.
Design IS NOT art though it can be artistic.
Design IS NOT static; it is meant to be tested and used.
Design IS NOT accidental, though it can be informed by spontaneous inspiration.
There are an incredible number of design fields out there. I have studied three of them in depth: architecture, product, and furniture design. You might call me a space junkie. I love a well-designed room with killer products in it! Here is a shortlist of some fields of design:
Video Game Design
Now that we know a little bit about design I want to tell you why I think it’s so important for kids to know about design.
Design incorporates logical thinking with imaginative play.
A design project requires you to investigate a problem or situation, interpret the data gathered by investigating, imagine a variety of solutions, and finally invent the best solution to the problem at hand. Design projects allow kids to develop problem solving skills AND to dream and doodle, experiment and play in the quest to find a solution. Most of all design is a fun way to learn!
The best designers out there are uber curious folks who can’t stop looking for answers. They will look for inspiration in nature, science, math, art, drama, stories, and more. That’s the next reason I think design is so important for kids to learn:
Design is about making connections.
Designers don’t take something at face value, they look at an idea and try to make connections to see what an appropriate solution might be. For instance I once designed chair based on a toy concept which was itself based on the bones in your body. Car designers often look at nature to understand aerodynamics, graphic designers may look at patterns on leaves or spider webs for inspiration. See what I mean?
That’s why I feel strongly that design projects are great tools for kids to engage both their critical thinking and imaginative skills into one solid effort.
To get started with some design projects for kids try out a few projects we’ve done here on Babble Dabble Do:
Pictured from upper left:
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