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. GIDE exists to enrich the creative and intercultural experiences of students’ and provide dynamic opportunities for institutions to share best practice, provide collaborative platforms, expand on student / staff exchanges and empower students to operate effectively in future, global markets. GIDE achieves this through collaborative workshops, symposia, exhibitions, client presentations and publishing. A core feature of the GIDE experience is collaborative exchange with local industry, research groups and with creative & cultural organisations.
GIDE currently consists of eight partner institutions from leading schools in Dundee, (Scotland); Wuxi, (China); Ljubljana, (Slovenia); Leeds, (England); Mechelen, (Belgium); Magdeburg, (Germany); Milano, (Italy) and Lugano, (Switzerland). Each institutions nominates an International Coordinator for that country to contribute to strategic planning of events and exchanges.Recent guest schools have included UNTexas, (USA); Toronto, (Canada) whilst previous GIDE members have included Breda, (Netherlands).
GIDE brings student’s, educators and researchers together with industry and creative & cultural groups to collectively explore the ethical and social dimensions of design linked to a specific EU region (often that of a host school) and explores and through a workshops that is hosted, (on a rotational basis) by one of the GIDE partner schools.
Typically operating on a Feb to Feb cycle, up 200+ participants take part in the workshop week with interdisciplinary student teams co-producing 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. During the workshop week 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 GIDE schools. This takes place in semester one of the new academic session and allows for considerable flexibility in terms of interpretation and in operational issues such as mode of delivery, curriculum, timeframes, approach and staffing of each GIDE partner. Outcomes from this formal project then provide new content for the next cycle of exhibition. GIDE schools select the best six submissions providing 48 student submissions and follow a strict 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 value of creativity in contributing to economic and cultural capital of a region. Successful student outcomes are also ‘published’ in yearly GIDE publications (in August), alongside keynotes and researchers offering critical insights alongside descriptive/didactic texts. Increasingly, these are e-publications which allow students access to the works in which they are also 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 to ERASMUS experiences then available to student’s and developed far more dynamic, inclusive and democratic intercultural experience to a campus.
Today, as student cohorts diversify and financial realities kick-in, this idea, championed by GIDE, of offering more inclusive intercultural opportunity to students is more relevant than ever. At its core has always been the sharing of best practice, skills, and collaborative insight focused onto an ethical and social issue in a city or region which 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 open 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 Design and 3D Design.
Increasingly GIDE students are also collaborating with established organisations, 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 and 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-ordinators meeting.
During the international workshop week held in Feb participants share creative experiences, cultures, design capabilities, skills, methods and approaches in attempting to resolve and / or frame a social / ethical issue linked to a host city through design thinking.
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.