Design Management at Paris College of Art: An Interview with Department Chair Yasmine Abbas

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PCA Design Management Chair Yasmine Abbas, French Certified Architect (Architecte Diplomée Par Le Gouvernement), graduate of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, winner of theRockefeller Centennial Innovation Award for AMP Project in Ghana, director of Panurban and author of Le néo-nomadisme – Mobilités – Partage – Transformations identitaires et urbaines, talks about the PCADesign Management program, the crucial role of transformative design, and the value of studying design management at an art and design school.

What is design management?

Design management is the art of transformative design. It is a discipline that fundamentally believes that behaviors, processes, products, spaces and organizations can be (re)designed to achieve higher goals. Design Management uses design and design methods as tools to unlock potential and to foster innovation.

What skills do students in the Design Management program learn?

Students in the Design Management program develop managerial, people, entrepreneurial and leadership skills. They learn to become creative problem solvers, gaining the ability to see through complex situations, to empathize with others, to organize a workflow, to be bold and take the risk to venture forward, and to inspire others to collaborate and to create. These skills are essential to managing teams and projects, and crucial to developing solutions that matter.

The international environment of Paris College of Art is ideal for learning these interdisciplinary skills. By working with students, teachers and professionals from many different cultures and with diverse perspectives in creative environments—where people are more likely to go beyond mainstream thinking-Design Management students graduate prepared to confront the increasingly complex and dynamic contemporary work environment.

What types of careers does a degree in Design Management prepare students for?

After graduation PCA DM alumni work in a wide variety of fields—as service designers, user-experience designers, design researchers, organization designers, project/program managesr, design strategists, or as retailers and merchandizers.

The Design Management department strives to broaden students’ perspectives by creating opportunities to meet and collaborate with a wide range of forward-thinking companies and professionals. All of our faculty members are practitioners. The DM department also develops local partnerships with institutions and businesses that have a global reach by having students work on professional projects. In addition, with the required internship they have to take during their junior year, students get the opportunity to build the credentials needed to land a first job.

A few examples of recent professional opportunities: in their second year, students investigate entrepreneurship by working at NUMA, Paris’ leading co-working space. Third year students have presented their Experience Design Studio work taught by Romaric Le Tiec to Steelcase (an American office furniture company with offices in Paris). Kim Youngji, a recent Design Management visiting student had the opportunity to intern at PSA Peugeot Citroën. Recent graduate Diana Stelin-Nilson found a job thanks to her very well-received senior thesis project.

As part of an international, NASAD-accredited university located in central Paris, the PCA Design Management program takes full advantage of the school’s unique creative energy. Creative people see through social issues, respond critically to complex situations, and call into question the status quo. DM students acquire a wide-range of skills, from storytelling to content editing. Taking transdisciplinary electives, connecting with other thought-provoking creative individuals, being surrounded by students from other departments—art historians, fine artists, fashion designers, illustrators, communication and graphic designers, interior designers, photographers and new media Masters students—is an ideal way for future design managers to engage with a variety of work processes, broaden their imagination, test and develop their creativity. The Design Management program is focused particularly on developing problem solving skills and the ability to implement innovative and positive solutions in any given context.

The Bachelor of Art in Design Management is a great foundation for a variety of Masters programs, from service design, product design, architecture, and urban design to business administration degrees.

Why does the DM curriculum have a Liberal Arts component?

Design managers must be curious and open to understanding social and cultural phenomena. “Management,” says Drucker, “is critically linked to the humanities and it is also result-oriented:
_Managers draw on all the knowledge and the insights of the humanities and the social sciences-on psychology and philosophy, on economics and history, on ethics as well as on the physical sciences. But they have to focus this knowledge on effectiveness and results-on healing a sick patient, teaching a student, building a bridge, designing and selling a “user-friendly” program.
For these reasons, management will increasingly be the discipline and the practice through and in which the “humanities” will again acquire recognition, impact and relevance._

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