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How to Teach Children the Main Pillars of Design

Posted by Jane Shearer on January 19, 2021 at 10:00 AM

Teaching children to designArtificial intelligence and other machine learning principles may be taking over a plethora of industries, but there will always be room for design. Within this industry, there are a few future creative roles, including those of augmented reality designer, fusionist, and intelligent system designer. 

Creativity, originality, and vision are three elements that are usually present in youngsters with a flair for arts-related topics but when it comes to design, there are key principles children can learn so they can aim to create quality work with a real value from the time they are very young.

After all, ‘design for life’ - lasting design that has value in the real world - is considered a universal aim for designers from a wide array of industries.

The Seven Principles of Design

Designers starting a course - be it in graphic, fashion, or interior design - are usually taught the seven principles of design, which are used both to create and organize ideas. These principles are as follows: balance, contrast, emphasis, movement, pattern, rhythm, and unity.

Depending on one’s style, one or more of these principles may be absent without wresting from quality, functionality, or beauty. When teaching children these principles, you can work on two or three at a time - for instance, by encouraging them to create a painting that has pattern, balance, and contrast. You can create a work at the same time using different principles altogether - perhaps rhythm, movement, and unity. 

Adapting to Challenges along the Way

Children who are intent on a career in design should understand that there may be challenges that force them to quickly adapt to the circumstances. For instance, in current times, C19 has necessitated home design changes as well as adaptations to industry, offices, warehouses, and more.

If you’re currently working from home, why not ask kids with a passion for interior design to help make your home more resistant to nasty bugs? Changes can include designing a virus-free entryway (for instance, with hangers for bags and knapsacks and storage space for shoes), creating an outdoor dining space on the porch, and shopping for quality pieces that will withstand future disruptions in delivery and supply chains.

Marrying Sustainability and Creativity

The ‘design for life concept’ is not just about making life better and investing wisely in design aspects. It also involves embracing sustainability, finding a way to reduce single-use materials, and creating items that can be handed down from generation to generation so they don’t end up in landfills after a couple of uses.

Show children what amazing brands from a plethora of industries are doing so they can feel inspired. Designer Becca McCharen-Tran (of Chromat), for instance, makes swimwear from old fishing net and recycled plastic bottles found in oceans, while  Isbjörn of Sweden uses fish trap to make items like jackets and leaves space for three names on their clothing item name tags, since each item is meant to be worn by at least three people.

There are so many brands that may inspire your child to upcycle, recycle, or use sustainable products when designing and creating fashion, art, or decorative pieces.

The key principles of design - such as the use of emphasis, balance, and color - are all helpful though very creative children may already have their own aesthetic, which can range from minimalistic to ultra-colorful, ‘busy’ designs that somehow ‘work’.

Learning the principles of design can help them think about their creations prior to starting, but they are no more than loose guides. Ideas such as designing for life (i.e. creating useful, practical, and lasting items) can also be useful in a world in which single-use materials such as plastics are destroying our oceans.

Children can find all the inspiration they need in consolidated designers that show it is indeed possible to create beautiful items that help to perpetuate life and beauty on Earth.

Topics: Careers, Teaching

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