When Coventry comes to Prescott

This week kicked off with me wandering around the Bugatti Trust at the foot of Prescott Hillclimb near Cheltenham surrounded by 35 post grad students from three different Coventry University design courses on a serious mission to discover the world of Ettore Bugatti. Following an initiative by past chairman Barrie Price and continued by current chairman Hugh Conway, the Bugatti Trust supports an annual Design challenge for Coventry University Design students. Whether on product, automotive or interior design courses, they will have a design brief set by the course leaders and the completion and quality of their project counts towards their end of year assessment. Ettore Bugatti stood for excellence and creativity in design and engineering and every year, the design challenge includes these values in the brief. Hugh had started off their visit by a brief powerpoint overview of the Ettore Bugatti history as well as introducing the work of Rembrandt Bugatti and Carlo Bugatti. The next hour allowed for the students, in company of their University lecturers Michael Goatman and Selma Porobic, to view the Bugatti Trust exhibition rooms and to quiz Hugh, Barrie, David, Sue, Mark and myself about everything they could think off, Bugatti and design brief related. The Bugatti family, whether working with pencil & paper, plaster & bronzes, vellum, wood, mother of pearl or metal, left no medium untouched. The new student intake is a delight every year and watching their design projects develop over a period of 6 months is an interesting process from an educational perspective but also from a ‘creativity’ in action perspective.

Twitter alerted me to an article by Anne Quito published this morning reviewing 87-year-old graphic design legend Milton Glaser‘s talk at the Guggenheim a few days ago. Under the heading ‘Design has nothing to do with art’, we discover that for Milton Glaser, ‘Design is the process of going from an existing condition to a preferred one’. Do you agree? Is this what I feel when I look at the design legacy of Bugatti ? A functional development rather than a creative artistic process? It will be interesting to hear what the students make of this.

In conversation with Michael Goatman who is Principal Lecturer Design at Coventry Uni, we touched upon the future of D&T within the changing national curriculum. It made me consider whether we could develop D&T activities at the trust during school holidays to encourage a more hands on approach for our junior visitors. It is always interesting to hear what led people to study one subject rather than another. Are we missing a trick by sidelining D&T? Should we keep pursuing STEM (Science Technology Engineering Maths) without the A for arts? (STEM vs STEAM blog to follow) It would be thought-provoking to do a survey of students and postgraduate students to see what actually most inspired them in their early education. If this data is out there, I would love to hear about it as it would give a clearer picture of where and when curriculum changes could open students’ minds to wider career choices. So I know what I am doing this coming week, RESEARCH !!! Keywords for Search will be: D&T, UK curriculum, future of engineering in schools, art vs design, early education, STEM, STEAM…(coffee at this point) … you see where I am going with this!

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