ID Connections

What they don’t teach you in design school

Published by Patrick Voisin, July 04, 2017.

A student cannot learn absolutely everything in the 3-5 years of post-secondary education, no matter what program they are enrolled in.

Universities and colleges alike prepare students well in the areas of design theory and design practice however – as with many professions – the world of work often demands additional business and marketing skills that many would argue can only, realistically, be picked up within that same work environment.

In pondering on a number of parallel business topics she wished could have been covered as part of her design studies, Doris Hager, the founder and Principal in charge of Vancouver-based, Hager Design International Inc., says that design schools often don’t cover enough practical applications.

“I know in a four-year course it’s hard to cover everything but it would be good to stress the practical parts of our profession, that we have to design to a budget, stick to it and what the implications could be if we don’t,” she says.

Hager Design’s Senior Interior Designer, Karl Travis, offers that project management, budgeting, standards and litigation – and how to avoid it, are among the other important topics he wished he had more exposure to in school. “Contract writing,” he says, “is the most important of them all.”

As part of IDC’s mandate to provide continuing professional development opportunities for its members, the portfolio of past and future continuing education includes topics such as ‘Earn What You’re Worth’, ‘Why Professional Liability Insurance is Essential’ and ‘Small Fish, Big Pond: Marketing & Business Development for Small Design Firms’ designed to address these types of training needs, and nurture skills that will help IDC members become as knowledgeable and successful as possible.

Did you experience gaps in your design education? Let us know at

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