EDITORIAL. Do we learn to design or design to learn?

Surely all of us who have already been working for a few years in the world of design and architecture, will remember our university years: hours and hours of workshops, drawing, projecting …We surely remember our sleepless hours, endless deadlines, and maybe laughter and crying with teammates too. What we might not remember are the practical hours working the material and supervised by artisans in the workshop of wood, metal or ceramics, visits to site to see for ourselves the construction process with a teacher to guide us in the process. And why not? Simply because in the Spanish educational system these hours did not exist. Design and architecture have traditionally been based on the IDEA, leaving aside the practical component of MAKING and MATERIALIZING, precisely the component that is most needed when we start working in the professional world. It is true that experience makes the designer and teaches us many things that are only learned by working, but we learn much more from practicing, seeing, touching, experimenting …



Bauhaus Building from North-West, architecture: Walter Gropius / photo: Lucia Moholy, 1926. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.


Traditionally in Spain, teaching in design schools has been based on theory, but paradoxically students have always been required to do a practical part that is often achieved by being self-taught, something difficult if schools and universities do not provide students with the specific tools, space and professional staff necessary for doing it. Also in many schools the door was closed to exchanges with Foreign  Universities and Schools that bring a lot of cultural and practical richness in these subjects. Nowadays, more options for scholarships and stays at other schools are provided, mainly to sell very expensive careers in both educational rates and materials, but not enough is being done yet. If schools looked at how their European counterparts work, they would discover that they have larger and better equipped facilities with the latest printing technologies, computers and materials, all much cheaper and with better financing possibilities. In addition, their students compulsorily divide their training in two phases to get to know the working world in an intermediate year, and they visit studies, product factories and building sites.


“When I draw something, the brain and the hands work together.”.

Tadao Ando


We believe that the educational system of all creative fields should focus on the application of the practice to learn the theory at the same time or later on. We believe that we need to touch, experiment and work on the materials to learn their behaviors, and this is the way to achieve ‘wisdom’, so we see that it is very necessary during the learning process. We should avoid systems based on learning to forget afterwards, and relearn it when we put it into practice in someone else’s study or on our own. Little by little, some schools are already doing it and putting it to practice, leaving aside that traditional concern to be the best. In this way, if your students are well prepared, they will turn you into the best school in the world.