Why is so much of design school a waste of time?
Juliette Cezzar

I found one of the challenges of design school curriculum (both as a student as a teacher) the lack of a well understood and agreed upon process for discussing work that helps focus the conversation on the work itself (ie, what do we see, how was it made and why was it made). I think sometimes the frustration that students can feel (and the source of the vagueness of critiques) lies not with the criticism but the fact that different experts will come in and see a presentation from a student then talk about it from very different lenses. For example, a game designer might talk about the game mechanics in your presentation, a data vis expert will approach it from the lens of data vis, and meanwhile the student feels a bit like a pin ball, bouncing around from feedback and feedback. Usually, this feedback comes at the end of the term, when it’s harder to even act on. I usually left critiques at design school feeling confused and frustrated. I got many great things from interacting with teachers, but I really think they were one of the worst part of my educational experience!

(In contrast, the critiques I had in art school were very work centered — the student who made the work actually didn’t talk, but others started by describing what they saw / perceived, then in the second phase, how it was made, then finally speculating about why it was made. These critiques invited everyone, not just experts, to talk, and they helped focus people in the room to the work itself. They also help explain what others see in what you’ve made).

finally, the best advice I always give student is don’t worry about the critiques at all —just find someone or some people who will be honest with you and whose advice you truly care about and get feedback about your work at the right time, not at the end, but at the beginning or the middle. Usually over coffee or beer.