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CCAD’s Kelly DeVore on Preparing Young Columbus Designers to Design for the Future

By Renee LeGendre, Director of Communications at Columbus College of Art & Design

In addition to maintaining her own creative practices (like Idyll Reserve, a collection of modern, sustainable and luxurious family and cabin rentals in the heart of Hocking Hills), Kelly DeVore is Associate Dean of Design at Columbus College of Art & Design. She and her colleagues are shepherding the evolution of CCAD’s design disciplines to prepare students for a future of shaping culture and commerce.

Renee: Can you share a little bit about your design background, and how it has shaped your work at CCAD?
Kelly: While working toward my MFA in design research and development from The Ohio State University, much of my graduate work focused on service learning and socially responsive design. It’s important to me that service learning opportunities are available to our students, and that we encourage budding designers to approach design through a lens of social good. As designers, we are uniquely positioned to look for problems and develop solutions through an iterative, collaborative and inclusive process. By encouraging students to look through that lens, they leave CCAD better poised to solve the world’s problems.

Renee: How are you preparing students to design for the future?
Kelly: We talk a lot about designing with versus for. Designers have a responsibility to work with the community and with a user, and to think through all the impacts of their design; not just ethically, but how a user will experience it, whether it’s a space or garment or product. You can’t just design in a vacuum and deliver something on a platter!

I encourage students to consider how design affects so many parts of everyday life. Somebody designed the clothes you’re wearing, or the water bottle you’re holding, or the space you live in. Every level of design has been thought through by a designer. That gets students excited!

Renee: What is a shift in the design industry that is echoing on the campus of CCAD?
Kelly: More and more companies are thinking about usability and the user experience. User experience design is a term that has very quickly been adopted in the tech space as people interact more on digital platforms. But user experience design is critical to all types of design: interior, product, you name it. If you look at something and think, “How can we make this easier for everyone to use or navigate?” — the end result is a better solution.

At CCAD, we’re expanding the curriculum to include human-centered UX design, and encouraging students to consider how to make any human experience better through design. We’re encouraging students to leverage creativity, design and human understanding to create new or improved products, experiences or services.

Renee: What makes you excited about the Columbus art and design scene right now?
Kelly: The art and design folks in Columbus are a close-knit community; if you don’t know how to do something, someone will know someone who can help you – and be willing to make the connection for you! That openness to collaborating, sharing resources and networking is invaluable to creative success. Art and design feel achievable in our community.

Renee: How do you foster a sense of healthy creativity for both yourself and students?
Kelly: It’s important to remember you can’t be perfect at everything. Getting rid of expectations is critical. I like to exercise new parts of my brain to stay fresh; learning a new skill can be invigorating. For example, I took Saturday Morning Art Classes here at CCAD this past fall to enjoy getting messy while trying something new. Learning a new skill as a faculty member is always a good reminder of how we learn – and also that failures are not only fine; they are part of the creative process.

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