The fourth industrial revolution has arrived. Several traditional occupations are about to be consigned to the history books. The welfare department in the Swedish town of Trelleborg has replaced administrators with AI. The retail apocalypse is here. Shop assistants have been replaced by robots that deftly package whatever it is that we click on. There are driverless cars on the road. 3D printers can deliver everything from fashion garments to artificial cardiac valves. Dystopic? On the contrary. Everything rests on design.
Creating sustainable designs requires knowledge that was formerly regarded as soft (and of lesser value). At present we are seeing how the significance of different forms of knowledge and skills change places with each other. Social competence, curiosity and empathy are becoming more important than hard knowledge such as mathematics where the need for numerate skills is diminishing in the face of new technology.
At Beckman’s College of Design we train students for today and for tomorrow. In their assignments students examine, develop and question their world. Many of them work on solutions to social issues. In their graduation show we encounter attractive rubbish sorting, a project that has examined whether extract of agar made from algae can replace disposable plastic as well as a programme to help our children become environmentally aware. Another project focuses on involuntary isolation. The items also include many personal narratives. A family’s flight from Kurdistan to Sweden via Iraq underlies a fashion collection’s focus on the shape of stomach and chest - areas of our bodies that are centres of our feelings ranging from grief and despair to joy. And there is naturally recycling. Rejected materials are reworked to create something new. And perhaps some project will even deliver a solution to the problem of digital pollution.
Design is, put simply, our future; as is, of course, formal training in design. Welcome to Beckmans’ 2019 graduation show.
Karina Ericsson Wärn