Speaker says leadership, collaboration key to improved design

Emily Andrews

When it comes to design, usually two things are taught: design and technology.

“It’s the bare minimum for design education,” said Ken Visocky O’Grady.

In his presentation of “Current Issues Facing Designers and Design Educators & Portfolio Presentation” on Friday, the Visual Communication Design professor used his personal experiences to tell what he’s learned about design and how he thinks it can be improved, primarily at the collegiate level.

O’Grady has written books and has co-founded a full-service graphic design and advertising firm in Cleveland called Enspace Inc. He has won more than 40 awards and has been in several magazines and books.

Entrepreneurship has taught him a lot about design, he said. He said clients don’t know what “good design” is, but they value innovation.

He also said that innovation and leadership need to be incorporated into the curriculum.

“Leadership and innovation are not usually taught, but Kent State hits on those things,” he said.

O’Grady showed a graph demonstrating companies with design as a priority for marketing make more money. O’Grady said Apple Inc. and Target Corp. are good examples of companies that have design as a priority.

“This is the Rosetta Stone for design,” he said.

O’Grady said the value of design is going up, but the designers are getting paid less.

The reason for designers being valued more but paid less, he said, is technology.

As technology becomes easier, more students are getting degrees in design, which is flooding the job market. Also, designers are developing Internet programs allowing companies to go online and do business there, which is eliminating clients.

He also discussed integration and how instead of having one designer or a group of designers working on a project, it would be more beneficial to have a couple designers collaborating with architects and other professions to make a more well-rounded and functional product.

“We are constantly learning from Ken,” said Carli Dottore, junior visual communication and design major. “The idea of integration of the different design programs is important.”

He said designers should be thought of as leaders and work together.

“There are so many opportunities for collaboration,” O’Grady said. “We need each other.”

Contact College of Communication and Information reporter Emily Andrews at [email protected].