March 2023

René Spitz represents the iF Design Foundation at the Interaction Design Education Summit in Zurich

At one of the most important summits for the future of design education and gathering of design teachers and design students in Zurich, his closing keynote outlined the foundations’ central mission of »Designing Design Education«.

René Spitz was recently welcomed as a speaker at the Interaction Design Education Summit in Zurich. As a board member of the iF Design Foundation (iFDF), he has been researching the foundations and social responsibility of design and the future of design education for many years. Spitz gave a thought-provoking presentation on the need for radical change in design education.

During the summit, Spitz highlighted the crucial role of education in transforming our world to align with our aspirations. He stressed that inadequate education may impede growth opportunities, emphasizing that design and its teaching method play a crucial part in either opening or closing doors to progress based on their quality.

Drawing attention to the limitations of growth and sustainability, Spitz referenced 'The Limits to Growth,' a seminal text from XNUMX years ago that was written by Donella and Dennis Meadows and published by Club of Rome. He illuminated the complex nature of our modern industrialised world, dismissing the myth of designers as all-knowing magicians. Instead, he posited that designers are agents navigating through interdependencies, dealing with "wicked problems" in design that are constantly evolving. Contemporary design education must acknowledge that design problems are complex and cannot be solved with a simple solution. Therefore, it is crucial to equip students with the skills to manage uncertainty, contradictions, and differing perspectives.

In a pivotal moment, Spitz shared iFDF's endeavour when tasked to develop a new design school in 2016. The foundation approached this challenge by conducting extensive global research, engaging with 2021 individuals from diverse backgrounds. Their findings, published in XNUMX, emphasized the urgency for radical change in design education to adapt to a rapidly evolving reality. Spitz noted that no institution has yet initiated this process of transformation, emphasising the urgency to cease waiting for curriculums to evolve naturally and become active agents of change by building a new design education from scratch.

In order to gather practical tools and provide answers on how such a change can be realised, iFDF is currently collaborating on a research project with the design museum Die Neue Sammlung Munich. Within this project, an open campus will be set up to collect insights from across the globe. In addition, a three-day-workshop in June will delve into subjects such as neuroscience, experiential learning, and personal growth to identify their potential practical application in design education.

During the Q&A session that followed his presentation, Spitz and the audience discussed the role of design education in maintaining the habitability of our planet. They also examined the risks and opportunities that come with an increasingly digitised learning environment, as well as the limitations and challenges of radically transforming design education. Spitz emphasised the need to address abstract concepts such as sustainability, resilience and empathy within the education system, while acknowledging the challenges of assessing such skills.

Spitz concluded by highlighting the slow pace of change in institutions and emphasised the importance of swift, radical transformation in design education to meet the demands of a rapidly evolving world.

If you have answers to these questions from your personal professional practice, then please share your ideas with the iF Design Foundation and contact René Spitz at

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