Dubai to get a college of design: input from MIT and Parsons

A Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI) is to be established in the city under the aegis of the Dubai Design & Fashion Council, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and The New School of Design (aka Parsons School of Design).

It seems likely that the campus will be in the Dubai Design District, probably as part of the expansion we reported a couple of days ago.

DIDI will offer the region’s first-ever Bachelor of Design degree “in collaboration with” the other two institutions. There are no other details yet, but a press conference has been scheduled for Monday and we’ll report more then.

In the meantime, the link with Parsons looks a no-brainer – only London’s RCA rates higher among the world’s design universities (interestingly the RCA is hosting three attractive-looking workshops on design at the Rove as part of Dubai Design Week, while Parsons doesn’t seem to have any presence at all at DDW).

Parsons has a clutch of faculties that could usefully offer support for DIDI’s proposed Bachelor of Design (there’s no Masters course mentioned as yet). Parsons has specialties in fashion, design generally, architecture, and art; we’d expect to see a contribution from the first two of those, perhaps with visiting faculty and course design. In New York, Parsons offers a range of BFA degrees – among them Integrated Design, Interior Design, Product Design and Fashion Design as well as Architectural Design and Communication Design.

In New York, Parsons offers a range of BFA degrees – among them Integrated Design, Interior Design, Product Design and Fashion Design as well as Architectural Design and Communication Design.

Meanhwile MIT has some interesting courses which could usefully be drawn upon, particularly in the School of Architecture and Planning – in particular, we’d like to see the ACT (Art, Culture and Technology) programme coming here; but that’s an academic hub of critical art practice and discourse, rather than a more vocational design-oriented course. The other SA+P programme of obvious relevance is the new DesignX entrepreneurship accelerator, which aims to help students and faculty to develop products and providers that focus on design and the built environment.

Any or all of those would be a great addition to the modest roster of degrees currently on offer here. AUS has the College of Architecture, Art and Design; AUE has a College of Fine Arts and Design; Zayed Uni has the College of Creative Arts, though design is not a major component of its courses.

Accreditation would be an issue, essentially to give credibility. It’s possible that DIDI will go for American NASAD (National Association of Schools of Art and Design) standards or something similar.

DIDI looks like an intelligent (though partial) answer to the question we asked back in June: where are the 30,000 design graduates coming from? The MENA region will need “at least” that many by 2019, according to the MENA Design Education Outlook study produced for the Dubai Design and Fashion Council (DDFC) and Dubai Design District (d3). It’s unlikely that DIDI can mass-produce that many in two short years, but even a few hundred graduating by say the mid 2020s would be a useful addition.

What do you think?

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