The Future By Design

The School of Design in New York has a fascinating proposition for you. Its “MFA Designer As Author” program beckons applicants to imagine, “Two years devoted to the independent creation of ideas.” If you blog, write, compose or otherwise create content–you do this every day. But the idea that you could suspend the rest of life with all its distractions to dive headlong into the soup of your creative process is for many RenGen the ultimate fantasy.

The program addresses the growing need for content providers throughout the visual media. Drawing on ones’ fluency with the graphic design language of type and image, this program is the first designed exclusively to encourage authorship and entrepreneurship in a broad range of media.

If you want a window into the RenGen mindset, watch the video. The recurring themes are: make a difference with my art, work hard, produce original work, master my craft. What you will also hear is a fear of allowing one’s creativity to be subjected to work environments where it’s not appreciated.

Years ago, Tom Peters bellowed, “Hire freaks!!!” While the people in the video hardly look freakish, you get the impression they are non-conformists. It used to be that business got its creative spark from techies. But that has run its course, unless of course you are Discovery, Apple or Pixar. Art, design, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship are fusing–see Discovery, Apple and Pixar. The hot spot will be the point of convergence. Designers like the ones in the Designer as Author program are emerging with a mission to make products that matter in people’s lives. They are poised to create the next generation of goods and services.

As part of my research for the next book I’m writing, I visit work environments that have successfully incorporated these creatives. Their fellow workers describe the energy of these RenGen as catalytic. My point? Any company serious about innovation needs to look less to MBAs who are trained to conform–(don’t get me started on my visit to the University of Chicago’s Innovation Roundtable that was like the night of the living dead!) And instead, seek out graduates of programs like this one. Dan Pink’s mantra, “The MFA is the new MBA” may have seemed outlandish at first, but it’s proving to be prophetic.

Hat tip to Steven Heller.