The Future of Design for young designers with Crawford Partnership for SBID interior design blog

The Future of Design: How to prepare as an up & coming designer

11:47 17 June in Design Advice, Design Students, Design Technology

We spoke with Alan Crawford, Chair of RIBA North London Architects Group and Managing Director of London based architecture and interior design studio, Crawford Partnership; a company that regularly provides internship placements, and is also one of our inspiring design practices who will be offering a 3-month internship to the public space category winner of Get me 2 the Top UK 2019. Alan shared his thoughts on what young design interns should be considering as they start their careers in a profession and industry that will look radically different in 10 years.

The Future of Design for young designers with Crawford Partnership for SBID interior design blog

Crawford Partnership – Stonechat Mews

The Future of Design Internships

As Chair of RIBA North London Architects Group, Alan’s personal concerns over the future of academic education and practical training to address this changing future within architecture and other design professions, also forms part of his NLAG group ongoing discussions to ensure that students and their mentors fully appreciate and are equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge base to deal with new technologies, automation and robotics that threaten to marginalise those without the necessary training.

Starting out his own career in architecture by spending 2 years working in several design and construction companies across the UK and gaining valuable practical experience in between his 5 years of academic studies, Alan considers internships as an effective way of introducing aspiring young designers to the increasingly complex world of design as a ‘business’.

There are many benefits in completing an internship, and as founder of Crawford Partnership, Alan has mentored countless architecture and interior design students who have worked at the firm on short 2 – 3 month internships or have spent a year working during their periods of practical training. Helping students gain invaluable experience at his office, transferable skills and confidence in the work environment; building a solid portfolio of credible work experience whilst studying. All of which can enhance a student’s CV and make it stand out in front of potential employers.

In today’s competitive global economy, an internship is an invaluable addition to any CV. There are however a host of factors which you should bear in mind when you consider undertaking an internship. Alan shares valuable insights on how he believes students can make the most of their internships to impress employers, summarising some of his thoughts on topical subjects that interns in the design world should aim to learn about in order to give them that competitive edge.


The Future of Design in the 21st Century

In the 21st century, the business of design across all areas is experiencing a profound evolution as new digital technology supersedes more traditional methods of working that have existed in design studios for decades. Students seeking internships today and progressing their career with interior design firms can no longer simply rely on CV’s that promote well-crafted hand drawing skills, some CAD drafting ability, and a basic knowledge of materials, fixtures and fittings.

Interns must now be familiar with the many new digital technologies that are being introduced in the workplace intended to enhance and replace some of the more traditional skills. Knowledge or experience of these new technologies will provide interns with an opportunity to stand out amongst employers who may not already have these skillsets ‘in-house’, and who are increasingly aware of the necessities of implementing them within their own businesses in order to be more competitive in the design world.

  • Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality is a key area of future design practice that introduces three dimensional visual effects enabling people to see what their future home could look like before building it in reality. This is very well illustrated in a new BBC2 series ‘Your Home Made Perfect’ where aspiring home renovators are thrust into a life sized 3D internal environment where they can see their designers ideas come to life in virtual reality. Virtual reality is developing fast and in five to ten years it will be an integrated part of the interior designers toolkit, for instance, it could be used to enable people to try out a variety of home furnishing solutions before buying them, and already IKEA is showcasing this technology for its customers. Interns would benefit from a better understanding and knowledge of this rapidly growing technology.
  • Building Information Modelling (BIM) software is already used in many design offices for complex projects. Interns may be skilled in 2D and 3D computer drafting techniques, which will undoubtedly be an asset to potential employers who already make use of a computer drafting system in the production of their designs, however, having a basic understanding of the fundamentals of BIM will be appealing to employers. BIM is an intelligent 3D model-based process that gives architecture and interior design, engineering, and construction (AEC) professionals the insight and tools to more efficiently plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and infrastructure. Design firms developing their projects can work simultaneously with other design professions, clients and contractors, sharing and coordinating input anywhere in the world with BIM files stored in the ‘Cloud’.  BIM models and the data they contain are now described as ‘digital twins’, providing an accurate 3 dimensional replica of a new building (or an existing building) which can be used as a realistic historic record in the event of future damage or loss – e.g. Notre Dame. Visit Syncronia and Autodesk to learn more about BIM software.
  • Artificial Intelligence and robotics. Beyond the mainstay of ever-evolving design and construction techniques, data science and artificial intelligence (AI) are poised to disrupt the ages-old design professions. With the increasing use of artificial intelligence and robotics to automate what has traditionally been human input in many areas of the workplace, it is forecast that even the creative industries will be impacted on by new technologies within 10 or 15 years. As an example, computer algorithms written by data programmers can now produce responses to maximising the clients brief for the most efficient office layout taking account of many parameters such as building shape, floor area, occupancy levels, furniture layout, aspect and sun path movement, circulation, etc, analysing these at lightning speed to produce the most efficient layout. WeWork spoke about their suite of procedural algorithms for space planning in commercial offices – their tool to calculate the most efficient ways to arrange desks in office environments – read more.

In only scratching the surface on where technological innovation is already advancing in the design professions, it’s clear that the impact of these new technologies in design also requires a new breed of designers to plan for the dramatically changing future of design, and this new breed of designers are the interns and students of today. These young designers will be multifaceted, able to juggle many skills at once, from programming of algorithmic code and data in production and analysis of design options, to injecting an intuitive understanding of spatial awareness to produce three dimensional designs further enhanced by augmented reality to sell their ideas.

This new breed of individual is already appearing today in the design world, and in concluding, Alan would recommend that in order to better appreciate and prepare for this changing future of design, that all young design interns and students should read Superusers: Design Technology Specialists and the Future of Practice by Randy Deutsch to more fully understand what it means to be a designer in the 21st century.

With just under 2 weeks to go, find out how to enter now for your chance to win a 3-month internship with Crawford Partnership this Summer!

The deadline to enter this year’s Get me 2 the Top interior design student competition is Friday 28 June.



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