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Design Team Projects at school: right or wrong?

Before I start writing this post dedicated to Design Team Projects in schools I would like to declare that I am not against team work, I myself made a team project back in school at ACCD, I am in a team at work & I believe that the one man show type of designer role basically never existed and today really it does not exist.

Every hot shot designer has or had a team next to him/her to help and develop.

Well said this, I will tell you why I do not agree the way Design Team Projects are done in mostly design schools from Italy (where we can find many every year) to other countries.

First of all a Design Team Project should be, for design students, the opportunity to understand the experience to work together on the same project. It will help students to understand “how and what” to do when working with other colleagues. Working in a team will help everybody’s ego to come down in favor of  Team’s objective, and soon everybody will find the right space to participate in a given project timing. It is clear that the team project results (drawings, renderings, model photos, Alias virtual images…) will be used in students’ portfolio as an example of a valuable project developed during school time.

It is obvious that every single team member will put in his/her own portfolio “their” real sketches and renderings for that type of project plus some model photos and team images.

The question is: are students part of a project team doing it? If yes “how” are they doing it?

Here comes my problem, very often…too often…almost always…when I receive students’ portfolios I find interesting (or maybe not) projects + a team project with exactly “the same hot exterior/interior sketches” the same model photos and virtual nice images almost never the team picture in front of their model. In other words: who did what? Who really did these nice sketches if 8 portfolios from the same school have the same images? This is the reason why these portfolio (for me) are missing one project! Yes I do not count that project because I do not know if all that material really belongs to that portfolio student! And if the rest of that portfolio is not that nice…the Design Team Project is killing that portfolio!

I think also that Design Schools are making a mistake. The Design Team Project is associated with the final thesis project (which should be the most important portfolio project to show all you learned in school). I believe this is a big mistake. My first suggestion to Design Schools is to make this team experience during school  period (and not at the end) and leave the thesis project to each student without any type of team activity. Second suggestions  for design teachers or Department Chairs is to check and advice students about their final portfolios before they are presented outside your school, please prevent double copy portfolios on some key projects because it does not look professional at all, thanks!




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