“Over the past 30 years, I have been teaching and researching a broad range of Design courses, as well as Design Strategies. While I was teaching at TU Delft in Netherlands, I occupied all of my time, providing students with more opportunities to grow and learn. Also, I have been promoting and implementing innovative design projects in many countries around the world, which all have been highly acclaimed in the Netherlands, Asia, South America, and South Europe. I was very happy when I received the offer to join the UNIST faculty. Especially because the UNIST’s slogan “First in Change” came home to my heart, as it is very similar to my motto which is “To bring Change”.
Dr. Henri H.C.M. Christiaans, a world renowned scholar in design, has been recently appointed as the new dean of UNIST School of Design and Human Engineering. Dr. Christiaans has 30 years of career in design education, data processing, cognitive science and ergonomics, including information processing. Prior to joining UNIST, Dr. Christiaans worked for TU Delft School of Industrial Design Engineering and for similar schools at Portuguese universities.
The following is an interview with Dean Henri H.C.M. Christiaans from the School of Design and Human Engineering:
Comprehensive Design, Inspired by the Möbius Strip
Prior to joining UNIST, I had worked at Minho University in Portugal, building a Design School. At that time, Minho University did not have a school for industrial design. I myself and other professors together made a design school based on engineering. Most of the design schools are based on aesthetics or art, but this was a different kind of design school. Combining design based on engineering has brought a ripple effect on the industry.
However, the Retail Design project that I was working on at Delft University of Technology was a bigger concept. It was not about designing just one product, but was about designing the whole thing including the interior design and the architecture of the space where the product will be sold. For example, let’s say there is a men’s clothing brand, which also makes women’s clothes. Then, we need to create a space that can attract more women, not just the clothes. We have to know their tastes and preferences. Making a design school that can derive creativity by unified thinking is my vision.
Currently, the School of Design and Human Engineering at UNIST puts more emphasis on academic research. Of course, it is important to write papers and get accepted by a well-known academic journal and to get research results supporting that foundation. However, the fundamental purpose of research lies in use. Our research results should contribute to people’s lives. The type of a Design School that I would like to build should not only contribute academically, but also could help the industry. Our design project will be useful to companies or contribute to a comfortable life over the world.
In the Netherlands, many experts who majored in design enter design studios. They can also go to the companies and fill in the design part. Our talented students in UNIST School of Design and Human Engineering will also become a fine bridge that can connect academy and industry.
The Convergence of Engineering and Design
In order to do design, you need the ability to see the big picture. This is the reason why Engineering, Design and Business Administration have to be combined altogether. Creative design is possible when you have knowledge in each fields and try to see in many different aspects.
Asian education is usually focused on memorizing starting from elementary school, which makes people become used to acquire knowledge by memorizing facts rather than discovery or creation. Creativity can easily disappear under this kind of system. I want to make a curriculum emphasizing on design projects in order to pull out that creativity from our students.
Design and Design education should be different with other field of studies. I am thinking about introducing learning methods such as working on projects in a design studio. It is important to keep an open mind and learn from other members of the group.
Building DHE, Korea’s Best Design School
I would like to unify the School of Design and Human Engineering. Currently, our curriculum is divided by each fields and I want to connect them. With this connection, we will have the best curriculum that can derive creativity.
I first visited UNIST in 2011 through a workshop, held at UNIST. At that time, I was fascinated by the research facilities and education system of UNIST. It was truly remarkable for a school that was only built 3 years ago.
I was very happy when I received the offer to become the dean of Design and Human Engineering of UNIST. Bringing a developmental change seemed to be my mission. I really want to accomplish my mission and build a world top 10 design school.