For the past three months we have been teaching Product Branding and Promotion module at Strathclyde University. The module we designed is called “Designing your Future. What can I do with my degree?” and is focused on service design, social innovation, the role of CVs and portfolios in a young designers life and the value of being online.

Here is a snapshot of the brief we delivered:

“A living brand is a pattern of behaviour. You are brand. You should be interested in this brand and the role it plays in your future. Afterall, you are going to spend the rest of you life there.

This class aims to raise student awareness of the importance of designing their own future. We will visit disciplines such as Social Design and Service Design exploring empathy and the role it plays in the work you do.

This module is about challenging the status quo by questioning and challenging the role of portfolios, CV’s.

“…almost one in eleven graduates are still unemployed six months after graduating. It’s reported that this figure is the highest graduate unemployment rate recorded in seventeen years”

We will discover the value of networks and explore your ambitions as a professional designer.

“Traditionally what designers lack in knowledge, they make up for in craft skills. Whether it be sketching, modelling, detailing or rendering, designers take an inordinate amount of pride in honing key techniques over many years. Unfortunately many of these very skills have limited use in the new design domains.” (Core 77 columnist Kevin McCullagh.)

“[Design thinking] will help in the transformation of design from the world of form and style to that of function and structure. It will help spread the word that designers can add value to almost any problem, from healthcare to pollution, business strategy and company organization. ” (Core 77 columnist Don Norman, Design Thinking, a useful Myth)”

Kirsty shared her thoughts with us after her very first teaching experience…

This week took me to Strathclyde University in Glasgow, to the lecture room and studio of the 3rd year Product and Branding class. This semester Snook are teaching the class about our approach to design, who we work with, what Service Design means and where it is going. As this is a branding class, we are focusing on the idea of individual brands; how the students are developing their own thinking, what they are interested in, how they are documenting this and how they are getting it online.

All of my previous teaching experience has been involved in hands-on workshop scenarios; putting together materials, explaining and exploring these with the students and then helping out as they led their user-interviews. This role would involve more of a traditional approach, standing and presenting with slides; I was intrigued to see how I would work and feel in the different situation.

This week, my role was to explore empathic thinking with the class – to show how a designer’s approach and fresh perspective can be applied to a variety of scenarios and sectors. With the students gathered around the front of the room, we talked through the work that designers are undertaking in places such as Hospitals, Post Offices, Prisons, Councils, Schools, Banks, The Music Industry, Sustainable Energy, Museums, Communications and Care Homes.

We talked about the difference that designers can make not only in the front-end of service delivery, in the tangible touchpoints but also in the background organisational and structure-led work that everything else rests on. This point in particular seemed to strike a chord with some of the students who have quite an engineering and structurally-minded background.

The class and I talked about the important skills and ways of working that a designer in these particular fields; the most important being looking and listening.


Maybe. It’s all about knowing where to look, knowing how to listen. It takes a bit of practice, of looking first on one level and then another. So that’s what we did; I set the students 45 minutes to head out into Glasgow and to try and capture snippets of other people’s lives – to see what they could find out about these people by listening and looking. They explore shopping streets, cafes, bus stops, train stations and lifts and came back with stories, sketches, notes and recordings. The
following discussion, once we were all back in the studio, flowed from the languages heard, and the differences in volume of phone conversations to the way in which clusters of seats in cafes are set out so that one group cannot easily overhear another.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the semester with this class, it’s pretty exciting to share with them.

See what the students have to say for themselves….