John McCardle reviews ‘Design: Models of Change’

Design: Models of Change

Design and Technology Education: An international Journal, 19(2),  June 2014, p.52

It’s not often I get the opportunity, let alone the inclination, to delve into a book and read it cover to cover. There are some books however that pull you in and refuse to let go. I am pleased that Ken Baynes’ latest publication, Design: Models of Change, proved to be a riveting read by providing an intriguing insight into contemporary thinking on some of the mechanisms of human behaviour that drive us to create.

By way of an introduction the author sets the scene well in providing a rationale for the book and a brief historical account of the concept of ‘models’; cognitive, material, as a process for expanding the imagination and as a method of communication. In the first chapter, Modelling and Intelligence, the latest evolutionary psychology theories from the likes of Steven Pinker illustrate the importance of the modelling construct in understanding human intelligence.

The link with modelling and design is considered in chapter 2 where there is an excellent account, through personal practitioner experience, of a diverse range of design projects. A history of work is well contextualised and reference made to the innovative and seminal papers of Bruce Archer and Phil Roberts as contemporaries of the RCA in the 70s and 80s.

The impact of Modelling through Design on Society forms the basis of the third chapter. The seemingly mundane tasks of everyday life are interpreted as strategic creativity, from childhood play through to grand architecture. Needless to say Baynes’ experience in education is dominant here and he describes how we have a natural disposition to be creative and a fundamental desire to learn to do it better. This chapter continues toward a historical explanation of the development and purpose of specific modelling systems and the nature of design as a socio-economic driver. This leads seamlessly into the commodification of design and its outcomes in chapter 4, Modelling, Design and the Media. Here society is reviewed as a growing global consumer market and the implications of aspirational ownership in a materialistic world are all very apparent. A history of conflict, social politics, and cultural rebirth through to urban development are all considered as part of the story.

The final chapter, Modelling, Design and the Future, examines the sort of future our society may have in store and how designerly imagination can positively shape or inadvertently destroy the environment. Of particular note is the author’s criticism of current practices in Design Education. Baynes considers education undervalued and what’s being taught in the classroom as a ‘gloomy’ situation.  However, rather than, ‘lamenting on the loss of ‘traditional values’…’, there is a genuine call to learn from the past and look to the future. For society to grow, Design in all its guises, should be respected and above all, highly treasured.

 So, if you have an interest in design history and penchant for human behaviour and philosophy, this is a book for you. As a working text it is very accessible, offering an academically sound account in a popular science style. Educators wanting to inform their students of some of the mechanisms involved in designing as well as students wanting to understand the impact of designing will find this equally engaging.

 Other books by this author:

  • The Art of the Engineer, 1981
  • Skills for Design and Technology, 1995
  • Design Education: A Vision for the Future, 2013

Dr John McCardle …Associate Dean (Teaching), Loughborough Design School,  June 2014

The early pages and the introduction are available as a free download by clicking on the button below:

Download Sample Pages

View the Book Page for Design:Models of Change


LDP’s recommended supplier is The Great British Bookshop:Great British Bookshop They can also be  ordered from good book stores (eg Waterstones) and online book sellers (eg BOOKS etc).

ISBN References

ISBN: [hardback, colour] 978-1-909671-00-3 … £55.00 RRP
ISBN: [paperback, B&W] 978-1-909671-01-0 … £15.99 RRP
ISBN: [ePub] 978-1-909671-02-7 … £18.99 RRP
ISBN: [Mobi] 978-1-909671-11-9 … £18.99 RRP
ISBN: [pdf] 978-1-909671-12-6 … £18.99 RRP

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