Last updated: The future of creativity is in safe hands

The future of creativity is in safe hands


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I feel good with the world. Just recently I went to my little cousin’s graduation show at Napier University, where she’d been studying design. All the students had their work on show, and their ideas are just phenomenal.

I’ve never really worried that we’ll suffer a shortage of technical innovators, of number crunchers and engineers, but I do sometimes fret about the state of creativity in design and what that means for the future.

But just at this one show the ideas were staggering, and they took in everything from app designs and furniture to graphic design. My cousin’s project concentrated on tourism. She was inspired by the heritage of the Scottish coast’s early days as a destination and produced some fantastic posters.

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Innovators and creativity: Driving the future of everything

A friend of hers built Studio Alfresco, a portable design studio that hooks on the back of his bicycle like a tiny caravan, so he can go round all the local shops doing little bits of design in the community with his mobile workshop. So clever – and a fascinating glimpse at where services could go in the future.

A third built an app that can be used to split a bill when a whole bunch of people are eating out together so they can pay their share simply and easily. It’s perfect for students, the sort of thing that could go to market now if it had a clearing house behind it.

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Looking around the show, I was so impressed by the way that every idea had a real heart and soul, a proper authenticity to it. And what a treat to have my inner cynic struck dumb by just how ideas-led and community spirited this generation seems to be. One can only salute a university that encourage such an approach. The results speak for themselves.

It’s fun to wonder what I would have made with the same tools. Students today, mainly thanks to the WYSIWYG tools that have been developed since I was at college, have a terrific base of technology and a landscape of design in which to play. In my computer design degree project, I developed a graphical user interface that mimicked a bank’s ATM screen, so you had to move the mouse to enter the PIN and so on.

To do that today it would probably just take a few minutes, but I had to program the code with the coordinates of each button on the screen myself. I literally mapped the entire screen, a proper labour of love that took weeks and left me crosseyed. All to replicate a process that already existed.

With so much of the boring process of having to slog through mundane tasks just to get a prototype up and running now automated, just think how much freedom their imaginations can enjoy. And what they can now potentially achieve.

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