How to make your Design consultations better

You know that idea taught in physics about action and reaction? My understanding of how learning works, especially getting better at design, is very much related to inertia. Observing from experience, I reflected on what makes a good design consultation? Why is it that some students have a hard time with AD consultations?

Good consultations usually feel as if you’ve had a good conversation about a problem you wanted to resolve. It wouldn’t be so much about the things you did wrong in your floor plans. The professor would ask the student about how they came up with this kind of output and the student will explain/ elaborate on his or her thought process. It should be empowering, insightful and would call you to action (like a chain quest!).

I was trying to come up with a good metaphor, and it hit me: Good consultations required flipping the idea of where the inertia (initial force) comes from. The action and reaction doesn’t come from the facilitator/ professor, it comes from the student. This realization made more sense when I started internalizing what a facilitator is in this Self-Directed Learning situation.

4AR4 Design7.JPG
Say hi to my early morning Design7 class. They’re waiting for their turn.

So here are three things I wish my students would do during consultations:

Give me something to work with.

Some time ago *cough cough*, I used to think that I was a blank slate waiting to be filled with information. I saw my as professors the sole fountain of knowledge. I come to school, expecting to learn something new from the professor. I didn’t realize I was doing myself a disservice by not taking control of my own education. I was expecting to be inspired and by some magic osmosis, being near someone inspiring would make my process better.

Usually your profs would have a requirement for submission during/ after consultation. We want to see your progress. What can we discuss if you’re still not done with anything? Also, make sure that I understand your sketches. Would they translate well towards your design development?

If you want me to be engaged with your project, throw me ideas that you think are interesting.. which leads me to the next thing: ask the right questions.

Ask the right questions

Don’t ask me about the codes, you should’ve done the research behind the work. Ask me about: your ideas, theories, strategies that you’ve read; case studies you might want to follow and if your concept is still working. What interests you at the moment? What ideas have you found interesting that you want to apply?

Use the right tone and you’ll find us interested in the things you find interesting about the project. Warning: we can smell bullshit from a mile away.

Don’t expect me to tell you EXACTLY what to draw

I’m not here to do the work for you. I’m supposed to facilitate your process, not draw what I suggest you to design. I encourage you to think for yourself or even contradict the things I suggest. At the end of the day, this is YOUR project. I’m not training you to be a CAD operator; I’m training you to be an independent designer/ creator. I don’t think I’m doing my job well if you’d expect me to make shortcuts for you. Dig into your process and refine it!

A consultation in AD isn’t like going to the doctor for a prescription. That’s not how it works. Your professors will not offer a cure-all for all your design problems. We’re here to GUIDE YOU. If we’re training you to be designers, wouldn’t you want to be the one holding the pen —and not following orders from someone else?

There’s only so much motivation/ inspiration we can offer through words of encouragement. If the fire isn’t within you, it doesn’t really matter how much we try and fan the flame.

2 thoughts on “How to make your Design consultations better

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