Cardi B meets Chuck Taylors : Immersing high school students into the design process through a shoe design workshop
Authors: Benjamin Bush, Katherine Chastain
Abstract: In the fall of 2020 a university recruiter and an industrial design faculty member met to engage and inform high school students through an hour and a half long workshop. Specifically, we wanted to target underrepresented people groups from within our state and give them a glimpse of what working in a creative profession might look like. As we started to develop the workshop we learned that we needed to strike a balance between three main criteria. We needed to reference practicing professional designers and share their experiences. We needed to champion a collaborative and iterative design processes. And we needed to make the content accessible and entertaining. The method by which we join and convey these criteria is through a shoe design workshop. Why shoes one may ask? Because all students have experience with footwear and all students have an option about their choice of fashion.From the very conception of the workshop we have held conversations with professional shoe designers on how to run this workshop. While industrial design faculty are well versed in the design process they frequently lack the real world experience of designing a shoe from idea to manufacturing and marketing. To compensate for a lack of knowledge we reach out to prominent shoe designers at Q4 Sports, Adidas, Cole Hann, and Fear of God. These designers stress conducting rigorous research and beginning any visual development using the lateral view. In addition, they gifted the workshop with the drawings of their most popular shoes so each student could use the same underlying framework that the professionals use. The second challenge is to champion the collaborative and iterative process. Sadly, the abundant mechanism of high school testing discourages conversations with peers and multiple correct answers. To boost collaboration we encourage students to support each workshop with the most recent information via social media. We allow them to use their phones during class so long that they add culturally relevant information to the existing framework. To encourage iteration we take the before mentioned conversations and collectively turn them into multiple visual concepts. And not only that, we reinforce collaboration by empowering students to tell the professor what concepts work and which ones do not.All the prep work comes down to choosing a topic of investigation that is entertaining, thought provoking, and relevant all while being able to be quickly translated into 2 dimensional shoe based artwork. Get it right and we will successfully introduce the next generation of students to the design profession. Get it wrong and become another ineffective outreach program that tries too hard. Now in our fifth iteration of the workshop, we wish to share our methodology as how we engage high school students with modular content that empowers them to learn the design process through the intersection of shoe wear and celebrity.
Keywords: Design, Workshop, Shoes, High School
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