1. General Introduction
As a “Double First-Class” major in the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), the design major takes the establishment of a world-class art and design education system as its mission and adheres to the design education concept of integrating teaching, research, industry, society and economy so as to play a leading role in design education in China. In 2009, the School of Design of CAFA was named one of the top 30 design schools in the world by Business Weekly. Having absorbed the thoughts of art and design masters at home and abroad, the School of Design has established a teaching system and syllabus in pace with the world's top design schools, attracting the top students in China to major in design.
We have participated successively in the design of the national emblem in 1949, the image and landscape design of the 2008 "Beijing Olympics", the design of the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, the design of the 2012 Nanjing Youth Olympics, and the design of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics; we cooperated with top international companies such as Apple, Audi, Benz and Mercedes-Benz, as well as local organizations such as the Forbidden City, Tencent and Baidu; the School of Design plays many roles in the field, from the important participant, core member and leader of international associations, organizations, and institutions to the promoter of local academic and professional institutions; it has great achievements in teaching, research and organization of conferences as well as multidisciplinary coordination of practice and application; it not only speaks for China in international arena, but also designs for China at home. Generations of the School of Design have kept on innovating and striving for excellence. They have built a constantly evolving discipline innovation system and an excellent talent training mechanism, and cultivated an outstanding capability to undertake complex design tasks, and professional ability to integrate theory and practice. Due to their painstaking efforts, the School of Design has become an outstanding example and indispensable member in the field of design education both home and abroad.
The School of Design has massive artistic accumulations, good artistic atmosphere, and an open academic platform, which helps students to demonstrate their creativity, release and develop their imagination. In 2017-2018, “Future Unknown--Global Education Plan”, a large-scale international education activity was sponsored by CAFA and undertaken by the School of Design. It started with the events that had influenced the contemporary society, and re-examined art and design in the current social context. Through the three phases of "Compulsive Innovation", "Youth Expressed" and "Education Absence", and by the forms of continuous theme sharing, round-table dialogues, educational practice, principals’ forums and other activities, it deepened and expanded future education issues, redefined the model of future art design education, and extended the traditional education boundary, which thereby accelerated the construction of a new model of future art design education in China and promoted the sustainable development of global art design education.
We believe that creation is the life of design, creativity is the soul of design, and people are the fundamental purpose of design. It is our mission to cultivate and develop students' creativity and innovation. we believe, by cultivating creative and innovative designers, China will truly transform from “Made in China” to “Designed by China” and “Created by China”.
2. Talent Cultivation Objectives
The School of Design is positioned to lead the innovative development of Chinese design education, and aims to build a design discipline system with world influence and leadership. In the face of global change and evolution, major national strategic measures such as innovation-driven development, the flow of talents and resources in social needs, and the opportunities and challenges of sustainable discipline development, the School of Design expands the cognitive level of "Grand Design" education, and reintegrate teaching resources to build the integrated framework of the discipline of art design with a comprehensive and overall interdisciplinary awareness and through the full opening of various majors. From a global perspective and based on the overall research and judgment of the future social form and economic model in China, we have formed a discipline system construction module with "strategic design, technological design, design thinking, industrial design, and design theory" as the basic framework.
The teaching objectives of the School of Design are: to maximize the core value and actual benefits of students; to help students complete personal value integration and knowledge integration, and cultivate their global awareness and strategic awareness; to cultivate first-class talents with leadership, research capability, innovation capability and professional skills, to serve the future development of the country, industry and society.
3. Teaching Reform
In response to global changes, global talent and resource flows, national innovation development and sustainable development strategies, the School of Design took the lead in implementing a series of teaching reforms in 2015. In the past five years, the School of Design has adopted effective measures such as resource integration, structural adjustment, space transformation, and management mechanism to carry out a new layout of educational structure with a sense of multidisciplinary integration, thereby benefiting the enhancement of students' learning ability, the integration of their personal value, the formation of their strategic awareness and the construction of their knowledge system.
The teaching reform has optimized the traditional disciplinary structure for undergraduates, and made some integration as well. It has broken through the barriers of different majors to implement an open-loop mechanism, and emphasizes disciplinary integration and development. There are 12 major orientations in the School of Design: Visual Communication Design, Product Design, Digital Media Art Design, Photography, Fashion and Fashion Design, Jewelry Art Design, Travel Innovation (Transportation) Design, Art and Technology, Innovative Design, Social Design, Ecological Crisis Design and System Design. In terms of teaching reform, a three-phase teaching structure for undergraduates has been adopted, in which phase 1 corresponds with the first year, phase 2 corresponds with the second and third year
(This picture shows the breaking through of the barriers of major, and the conduction of open-loop mechanism in the School of Design)
and phase 3 corresponds with the fourth year. In the three phases, the teaching and management of general courses, general theoretical courses, major history courses, specialized core courses, specialized design courses, comprehensive design courses and research-oriented courses will be completed to form a curriculum structure of three types of courses: compulsory courses, limited elective courses, and optional courses. The barriers of major and divisions of subject in course setting are broken through, and the proportion of the courses related to frontier technology and general courses of humanities and social sciences have been increased so as to keep pace with basic professional skills, advanced specialized courses and research projects.
4. Cultivation Objectives for Undergraduates
1) The First Year
At this initial stage, we have set up cognitive courses that will guide students to know about themselves, the university and the world, and help them to understand the changes in the current world and set their goals in life. Moreover, these courses will push the students to adapt to the changes from high school to university so that they can complete their future studies with clear aims and corresponding plans. Comprehensive cognitive elective courses and general education courses that feature news events and historical context follow the principle of “the priority of students' knowledge and interest”. Besides, many specialized quality courses and comprehensive quality courses will be provided for students to choose freely. Design cognition courses, general theoretical knowledge, modeling foundation, form foundation, design foundation and skills are taken as the teaching orientations and the cultivation of the freshman's broad and comprehensive subject vision, as well basic professional ability will be especially emphasized.
2) The Second and Third Year
Specialized core courses oriented towards industry and technology will be set up, and comprehensive research methodology courses and new design orientation courses will be built as well. Students choose their majors and orientations by means of own course selection. The original structure of major has been reformed, so the majors are reflected by the courses. The second-year curriculum focuses on the cultivation of basic, technical and core qualities for future development. The third-year curriculum structure focuses on the cultivation of inter-disciplinary and problem-based research qualities, and the courses are set in the form of research topics, guiding students to strengthen their problem awareness after mastering the core foundation of their major. Students are supposed to combine research methods with any system such as industry, business, community, or art, and this will be used as a criterion for evaluating their research results.
3) Introduction of Major Orientations
Visual Communication Design
Based on the profound traditional atmosphere of art education in CAFA, the Visual Communication Design major will cultivate designers and researchers with a relatively complete theoretical foundation, multidisciplinary knowledge reserves, critical thinking, broad academic vision, and innovation capability to discover and solve problems with a professional attitude and to serve the society.
The Product Design major puts the cultivation of the artistry, experimental spirit, and originality of product design in the first place, and attaches great importance to the combination of reasonableness of product design and use with the aesthetic needs of the senses, the cultural connotation of product, and the future development trends in new fields. Today’s new technologies and new applications will be timely informed to the students, their operational abilities will be trained, and more importantly, their abilities of self-study and self-improvement will be cultivated to adapt to the high-speed social development in the future.
Digital Media Art
The Digital Media Art major refers to the art category that uses digital technology as its core creation or presentation medium. The orientations of this major include Interactive Media, Video Animation, and Entertainment Design. The development of digital technology has brought about changes in traditional art forms such as painting, sculpture and music, and has created new art forms like net art, virtual reality, digital installation art and interactive art. These new art forms have become an inseparable part in contemporary art context.
Based on the profound academic inheritance and teaching philosophy of CAFA, the teaching in the Photography major has successfully integrated with international photography teaching system. Its goal is to cultivate image art talents with high-level artistic appreciation, comprehensive image theoretical knowledge and excellent practical skills.
Fashion and Fashion Design
The Fashion and Fashion Design major of consists of two orientations: Fashion Design and Jewelry Design.
Based on the context of fashion and the subject of fashion art, Fashion Design aims to cultivate designers who are concerned about the progress of human life and cultural patterns. In the undergraduate study, we will help students to build a clear understanding of fashion, and achieve a deep and multidimensional understanding of their major. Moreover, we will encourage students to develop their own ideas of design and practice them in a flexible and imaginative way in the current fashion context.
The teaching of Jewelry Design aims to train students to transcend prejudice and superstition, and foster their critical and independent thinking ability. Apart from guiding students to form a good aesthetic taste and establish unique design concepts, we intend to help them gain the ability of free expression and design in a flexible atmosphere.
Travel Innovation (Transportation) Design
In accordance with the new technological and social background, the teaching and research goals of Transportation Design are to deal with the iteration of mobile scenes and transportation means. We aim to cultivate young talents with logical analysis ability, active innovation ability, technical sensitivity and concern for society. We will cultivate future industry standard setters with sustainable design practices. The predecessor of this orientation is the Automotive Design major established in 2006, and it was officially renamed in 2018. Focusing on prospective design researches related to the automotive industry, in recent years, the research focus of Transportation Design has been shifted to innovative research on intelligent travel and we have established a collaborative innovation research mechanism with more than 40 motor companies and more than 10 universities worldwide.
Art and Technology
The students who major in Art and Technology are encouraged to explore the innovative combination of art and technology in the new natural, technological and social environment, and expand their imagination and creativity. Through a series of rigorously structured, clearly organized, hands-brain applied, and socially targeted courses, students are trained to build their own knowledge system, live with fantasy and delight, activate passion for adventure and desire for invention, and cultivate unique aesthetic quality and original thinking ability.
The students who major in the Social Design are encouraged to gain insight into the systematic operation of specific issues in “social process” at different scales, find and then follow the lever points that affect its changes, and creatively reorganize various resources to form new impetus and productivity. In addition, they are supposed to spread their findings with aesthetic and narrative design language to achieve the pragmatic purpose of social improvement or innovation.
In the past five years, we have been committed to cross-disciplinary systems thinking and methods to conduct strategic researches on the sustainable development and equity issues of people and society, urban and rural areas in contemporary China against the global context. More than that, we have practiced iteration in the “social process” of politics, economy and technology.
The Innovative Design major aims to combine design with the methods of humanities and science to explore the future complex needs of human society and provide sustainable innovation solutions. It includes three orientations: Innovation Methods, Design Engineering and Trend Design. Based on the analysis of and insight into society, culture, economy, environment and technology, and combined with cross-field innovation methods and concepts, we aim to cultivate compound innovative talents with international prospective vision, cross-domain design capabilities, cross-cultural understanding, critical thinking and social insight.
The time axis of “innovation” is divided into three stages: in the first one to three years, “incremental innovation design” is the focus; in the middle three to five years, “revolutionary and experimental innovation” is the focus; five years later, “strategic situational design” will be the focus.
Ecological Crisis Design (the Former “Smart City”)
In the new geological era of the Anthropocene, climate changes, frequent disasters, depletion of resources, and biomutation have irreversibly shaped our living environment. In this context, the Ecological Crisis Design major is nature-oriented rather than human-oriented. With the help of ecology, life sciences, synthetic material sciences, geoinformatics, climatology, and futurology, Ecological Crisis Design predicts the negative effects of environmental and ecological crises and provides a flexible, innovative, and multilevel vision and solutions. In this field, design is made for life, for the earth, and for an alternative future. The students who major in Ecological Crisis Design are cultivated to become global designers who can leverage resources through deep study in the four fields of "crisis design", "ecological map", "flexible city" and "sneak technology", and are encouraged to participate in different types of organizations and projects to update the design culture, lead changes, and define the design for the future.
System Design is a discipline that studies how related design issues form system effects. Inspiration-driven design is not performed in this major. Instead, research-driven design has been greatly promoted. The students of this major will be equipped with a prospective general knowledge foundation oriented to emerging fields, including parametric design, artificial intelligence, digital manufacturing, complexity theory, system theory, etc.
The logic of system design is unfolded on three levels: design is research, design is practice, and design is system. Design thinking is placed in the current interdisciplinary vision and complex social context for overall consideration. Students are prompted to form a systematic overall view and will be transformed into innovative design talents in space prototypes, urban renewal, parameter applications, and product trends etc.
4) The Fourth Year
Under the trend of interdisciplinary development that breaks the barriers in the design major, we intend to inspire the students to think independently, broaden their horizons, and open up their understanding of the subject. Moreover, we value the "humanistic care" for students and the cultivation of their subjective consciousness, and expand the students’ understanding of the broader and comprehensive concept of “design”. The traditional major orientations have been replaced by comprehensive laboratories or research institutes etc., allowing students to freely and actively choose their major orientations, acquire professional skills, , and conduct profound researches in a specific field.
In the curriculum for the fourth-year students of the Teaching Reform Version 2.0 and 3.0, apart from graduation design and supervisor open day, some new contents like courses on the research methods of graduation design, group creation, courses on thesis writing and the choice of supervisor are also added. The purpose of group creation is to test the students’ ability to collaborate and work independently, and students are supposed to work with appropriate behavior and professional norms in different professional contexts; in the face of complex and unpredictable situations, they should make thorough decisions with the group and professionally participate in collaborative or independent work; in the process of analyzing problems, they will not only demonstrate their sense of direction and originality, but also their willingness and sense of responsibility; in the corresponding problem-solving process, they should implement the plan by themselves or through cooperation. In a word, in a diversified team, they can make marvelous contributions in any role.
In the long-term goal of building national "Double First-Class" discipline and becoming a world-class school, the School of Design has always applied the policy of “stringent admission and stringent graduation” in the selection and review of talents. Since the teaching reform, the School of Design has strictly implemented the review standards of graduation. In the review of graduation thesis and graduation creation, it has formulated the final elimination rule and the elimination rate is about 5%. In the first round of graduation design review, 10% of the works that have entered the final elimination stage are reviewed together by a second review team composed of experts from other universities, and the final 5% of those who fail will be suspended for degree.
5. Space Transformation
In order to optimize the service for teaching, the School of Design has integrated its teaching space. Based on the system after teaching reform, the concept of space transformation is to improve the utilization rate of space, which realizes the sharing and circulation of space and equipment, perfects the teaching environment, and improves the students’ initiative, freedom, self-discipline and planning in their study. The transformation of teaching space and the reform of teaching system have not only reshaped the function of teaching space, but also created a new type of management system--with the original management consciousness transformed into service consciousness.
Facing the changing situation, industrial reforms, crises and challenges of the new era, the School of Design has studied the core in the construction of new liberal arts. Based on the new needs, new changes, new stages and new characteristics of China's higher education development, the School of Design integrates its disciplines with other disciplines such as modern information technology to create new orientations, new standards, and new value judgments and to study the political and economic changes in the post-epidemic era. With the existing social organization structure, production and consumption means of human beings as the entry point of research, and the division of disciplines as tools and methods, we are determined to build a new education framework and resource integration platform led by crisis awareness to focus on and cope with the future survival mode of mankind.
It is our mission to expand the new pattern of "Grand Design" education, enhance the level of design education awareness, and strive to transform the design discipline of CAFA into an innovative education and research system with global leadership.