Design education in South Africa


You listen to an iPod, you move around on a skateboard, you go to movies in a mall, you wear jeans – have you ever thought about the fact that design touches every area of your life?

What is a career in design all about?

Design is difficult to define, but what is true is that design is all around us and changes lives. One definition of design is that it takes a human need and turns it into a solution.  Small wonder then that design is unrivalled in the scope of the exciting and challenging careers it offers - to "thinkers" and "doers" alike.

Whether you are a budding Calvin Klein or an aspirant Formula one engineer, there is a niche for you in this dynamic industry.

Design is an intellectually demanding activity. It is the meeting point between technology and the arts and often an important cultural manifestation. Although many people do operate as self-taught designers, it is imperative that a good basic education be the starting point. Training in design will equip the prospective designer with the relevant techniques, properties of materials, production methods and latest trends.

The complexity can range from designing road signs to an aircraft or a television set. To complicate matters, different connotations and semantic interpretations are linked to the different design disciplines. For the purposes of this guide, a distinction is made between Applied Design and Engineering Design.

Engineering Design includes civil, mechanical, production, electrical and electronic design and is mainly concerned with a products performance and production.

Applied Design includes product design, often referred to as industrial design; spatial or interior design; clothing and textile design; and graphic design also referred to as information design. These disciplines tend to require a more artistic background and training than Engineering Design.

In compiling this guide, all the facts have been based on the design education programmes currently acknowledged by SAQA (South African Qualifications Authority). Changes are, however, continually taking place and we urge all prospective students to contact the education institutions directly to obtain the latest correct information and to find out what assistance is available in preparing you more fully for a tertiary education. This will also be the only way to establish which one of the various kinds of institutions will be the correct one to cater for your particular needs, study and career goals, and purposes.

Take your time and read through the information provided in this section. You will be amazed at the variety of career choices and the exciting world that awaits you if you choose design to shape your future.

Design and the role that designers play in our country’s economic and social development are becoming more and more recognised. It is however difficult to show you a clear career path in design. In most cases, designers are the creators of their own career opportunities. If you combine initiative, enterprise, enthusiasm, commitment and perseverance with your natural talent, the sky is the limit for a rewarding career in design.