2nd Hearing: Pasadena, USA

17 – 19 October 2019, in cooperation with the ArtCenter College of Design


The second hearing hosted by the iF Design Foundation was held in cooperation with the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, located east of Los Angeles. Great importance was attached to the broadest possible diversity among the 30 participants from the USA and Europe. The guests included female and male members of various design colleges, as well as senior and junior designers and design managers from e.g. Amazon, Google and IBM.

What was discussed?


Compared to the first hearing in Gmund am Tegernsee (Germany), the discussions in Pasadena revolved around significantly different topics: initially, the focus was on questions relating to the structure and organization of design teaching. This is to be seen as a mirror of the US education system, because university education is very much seen as a private matter and not primarily as a societal task. The most reputable degrees are therefore usually linked to high tuition fees. This makes access to design studies structurally difficult for many groups of people.

The participants in the hearing developed alternative organizational forms for design universities to ensure that the talents that universities seek and need can find their way in. This also included considerations of using the digitization of education as a potential for having a more diverse body of students.

A second focus, which was not discussed in this breadth and depth in Germany, was the effect of big data and artificial intelligence (AI). It was obvious to all experts that these influences have already substantially changed design practice and will continue to do so. A broad discussion arose about the ethical evaluation of the consequences of this development. Different positions were exchanged on the question of what consequences this would have for design education. While the critics of the use of AI expressed scepticism regarding the transfer of AI to design universities, the advocates argued that design education should adapt to the status quo in the digitized economy.


Sheppard Nasahn,
Head of Global Customer Experience Design, Amazon

Andrea Ruggiero,
Parsons School of Design | New York

Mariana Prieto, Innovation Leader, Wildlife Conservation, Former IDEO.org | Los Angeles

Chris Do,
Founder of TheFutur, design school

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