GIDE, the Group for International Design Education is an international network of art & design institutions who have, since 2003, collaborated annually in an EU city and delivered shared project themes which integrate flexibly into art school and university curricula. GIDE exists to enrich the creative and intercultural experiences of students’ and staff by providing regular interdisciplinary symposia, workshops, exhibitions and publications designed to help students engage with ethical design challenges and in operating effectively in future, global markets. As a model of engagement, GIDE offers a far more effective, democratic and academically integrated alternative to Erasmus by reaching greater numbers of student’s (and staff) through exciting events which encourage interdisciplinary, knowledge exchange and the sharing of design methods and creative processes. A core feature of any GIDE experience involves ethical and site-specific projects which address societal challenges in collaboration with sponsors, local industry, researchers and creative & cultural organisations linked to the host city in which the workshop event occurs. GIDE currently consists of eight partner institutions (in alphabetical order) from leading schools in;
- Dundee, (Scotland)
- Wuxi, (China)
- Ljubljana, (Slovenia)
- Leeds, (England)
- Mechelen, (Belgium)
- Magdeburg, (Germany)
- Milano, (Italy)
- Lugano, (Switzerland)
Each institutions nominates an International Coordinator for that country to contribute to strategic planning of events and exchanges. Recent GIDE guest schools and professors have also included collaboration with:
- UNTexas, College of Visual Arts (USA)
- Ryerson, School of Interior Design, Toronto, (Canada)
- AKV|St.Joost, School of Fine Art and Design, Breda, (Netherlands)
Typically GIDE international workshop weeks occur in Feb and operates on a Feb to Feb cycle. The scale of participation has been impressive with up to 200+ participants – many of whom self-fund their experience. During the workshop week interdisciplinary student teams co-produce design responses to a set regional issue in an intensive ‘deep-dive’ experience. The initial element of this week begins with a student led symposium with invited keynotes.
This provides insights and qualitative benchmarking on earlier GIDE student activity whilst invited keynotes provide the critical impetus to action that typically drives the themes for a given workshop week. In addition, GIDE also holds an exhibition showing 48 winning submissions from a previous ‘completed’ shared project. Client presentations are required at the end of the week, followed by a closing event in semester two.
Emerging ideas from the semester two workshop week sets the tone for a subsequent shared project delivered across all GIDE schools. This takes place in semester one of the new academic session and allows for considerable flexibility in terms of interpretation and in the chosen mode of delivery, timeframe, approach and staffing that best reflects the curriculum and autonomy of each GIDE partner school.
Outcomes from this formal shared project then provides new content for the next cycle of exhibitions in the following Feb workshop; and the cycle repeats. GIDE schools select the best six submissions providing 48 student proposals that follows a strict large-format template echoing similar competition format constraints faced regularly by industry.
GIDE’s strategy here is to provide an important public event in a host city which raises awareness of the collective energy, imagination and intercultural perspectives the group brings to an EU city. This also demonstrates the value of design thinking in contributing a to the economic and cultural capital of a region. Successful student outcomes are also ‘published’ in yearly GIDE publications (in August), alongside keynotes and researcher insights alongside descriptive and didactic texts. Increasingly, these are e-publications which allow students access to the works of their peers and acknowldges students as co-producers and authors.
GIDE’s origins emerged from an earlier ERASMUS collaboration, begun in 1993 by Nansi Van Geetsom [Mechelen, Belgium] and Graham Savage [Leeds, England]. Graham was a graduate of the RCA, London and came to Leeds in the early seventies to take on the role of Course Leader for Product Design, and later, Interior Design at Leeds College of Art. Both sought to expand on quite limited access students had to ERASMUS experiences at that time, and in doing so, developed a far more dynamic, inclusive and democratic intercultural experience which travelled between European campuses on a rotational basis.
Today, as student cohorts diversify and financial realities kick-in, this idea, championed by GIDE, of offering inclusive intercultural opportunities to students, is more relevant than it has ever been. At its core has always been the sharing of creative insight, best practice, skills, and developing collaborative insight focused onto an ethical and social issue in a city or region. This remains central to the GIDE experience. During those early years original partnerships were established between French, Spanish and Italian design schools
GIDE was formally established in 2003 to deliver dynamic intercultural experiences to a wider range of participants; in essence bringing an ERASMUS experience directly to an institution. In 2013 GIDE celebrated its 10th anniversary at the Ljubljana ‘Celebration’ event in the cities renovated castle.
Though emerging from Interior Design / Interior Architectural initially, GIDE is increasingly interdisciplinary in character and outlook. The main disciplines currently involved are interior design, interior architecture, industrial & interaction design, visual communication and Masters in Interiors (Service Design). In the recent past disciplines have also included Art, Design & Interdisciplinary Practice, Furniture & 3D Design.
Increasingly GIDE students are also collaborating with the vocal support of established organisations (V&A Dundee), PhD students, funded researchers, live clients and Masters students’ [Wuxi, China]. At a time when the old disciplinary boundaries are increasingly blurring, and new hybrid practices are emerging, such interdisciplinary experiences are essential if we are to prepare graduates for global markets.
GIDE aims to provide students’ with critical and transformative inter cultural learning experiences with peers and professionals from the European Union and beyond. Advantages for institutions include:
- opportunities for ERASMUS exchanges [staff & students];
- informal academic benchmarking; sharing of best practice (for academies, for students and for staff);
- research collaboration
- peer support
- embracing international collaboration as a dynamic and consistent component of ones curriculum
The GIDE experience provides a foundation in which students’ can build future professional networks and, generally, become more informed of their potential through exposure and engagement with others. This is further tested in smaller informal workshops in Oct / Nov during interim gatherings of GIDE International Co-ordinator meetings.
The workshop week, in particular, allows interdisciplinary groups opportunities to experience some of the dynamics of team-projects, discover new ways of generating ideas, negotiate roles and responsibilities, and discover collective ways of communicating design solutions to clients and practitioners using low-fidelity materials to convey hi-fidelity thinking.
What this provides are new ways of thinking beyond ones everyday creative processes, discipline and formalised practice. Student teams are supported by tutors offering guidance and encouraging teams to embrace risk and risk failure in the developing of new scenarios for contemporary living, working and enterprise.