Reflections on Design, Creativity, and the Value of Being an IEA Apprentice

By Natalie K.

Natalie, a 2012 IEA Industrial Design Apprentice at the Art Center College of Design, originally gave this speech at IEA’s 2012 Open House. IEA’s Apprenticeship Program – mentioned in this story – links gifted high school students from across the country with mentors who advance each participant’s skills through the application of knowledge and exposure to real world experiences.

Paola Antonelli,  a Senior Curator at the Museum of Modern Art and one of the most powerful people in the world of art, once said:

“People think that design is styling. Design is not style. It’s not about giving shape to the shell and not about [caring] about the guts. Good design is a renaissance attitude that combines technology, cognitive science, human need, and beauty to produce something that the world didn’t know it was missing.”

My name is Natalie, and I am an industrial designer. Through the Institute for Educational Advancement, I have finally become comfortable with giving myself that title and feel that I have learned valuable skills that set the foundation for that title. As industrial designers, we are compelled to design responsibly, provide the creative solutions necessary to respond to our society’s needs, and serve as artistic leaders that will push our community into the future. Design is not just about the beautiful sketches and the amazing renderings; it’s about the concept, the question, and our experiences. Everything we interact with, everything we use – from the chair you are sitting on, to the tables you are sitting at, to the utensils you have used – is created by industrial designers.

Our group here at IEA has the tools, skills, and dedication to truly make a difference, and in essence, isn’t that what design is all about? We have the power to respond and to change our world. We have the ability to design the next “coolest car” or “awesome cell phone,” but what is that worth? That is the question that this program has taught me to reevaluate; that as leaders, we can move so far beyond those limitations. We can give back to our community by thinking outside of the box and not just by being industrial designers, but gifted design revolutionaries.

Through my Apprenticeship, I have realized all these key concepts about design. But I am not just grateful for that. I’m also grateful for the personal life lessons it has taught me. Our leadership foundation activities have given me the courage to ask myself questions that I had previously stored away. I was given the tools to set my priorities straight and realize what I need to do in order to achieve my dreams, as well as the socials skills necessary to respect myself and the people around me.

From physics to astronomy to design, and everything in between, we have learned so much about our fellow peers, mentors, and caring staff – lessons that I am sure we will all carry into the next chapter of our journey. All in all, the IEA Apprenticeship at Art Center has been one of the greatest programs we have had the honor of attending.

What is the most valuable lesson your child learned this summer? Please share with us in the comment section below.

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