Pedro González has three characteristics that make him a great person for us to interview: he’s a CEU UCH graduate; he has his own design studio, Estudio PG; and he’s a lecturer on the Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Design and Product Development. Any of these three things would make for an interesting interview, but we wanted to talk to him about something else: the Master’s Degree in Design and Graphical Communication, for which he is the coordinator.
What’s the main thing that a student on this Master’s Degree learns?
The main thing is that it’s not enough to be able to work to a professional standard. You need to be able to have that bit extra to offer. You need to be interested in different disciplines, to have good language skills, and to know about different cultures. Any future designer has to know that they will be working in a global job market. Knowing and understanding what and who you’re working with and where the product is going to end up is essential. The best thing for our students is not just the fact that there are so many different career options, but the knowledge that, by getting a wide-ranging education and looking at problems from a variety of perspectives, they can actually take full advantage of them.
What are strengths of the programme?
Firstly, it’s important to bear in mind that this is more than just a specialization course. It’s a Master’s Degree, and that makes us stand out from other superficially similar programmes. Secondly, I’d highlight the expertise our lecturers have and finally the practical focus of the programme.
You teach on various parts of the programme, including a section on packaging, which is your speciality. What’s the message you want students to take away with them?
I try to tell them everything I know from my own experience and my day-to-day activity as a professional designer. I try to use the understanding I’ve gained to ensure that my students don’t make some of the mistakes I made. There’s an academic element to that, but there’s also something more personal, more about me trying to guide and give some pointers to students. We’re people, not just lecturers.
“THE PRACTICAL TRAINING WE OFFER IN REAL SETTINGS PROVIDE OUR STUDENTS WITH INVALUABLE KNOW-HOW.”
Being professionally active, as you’ve said, is something that’s true of all the lecturers.
We’re able to draw on the expertise of the some of the best professional designers out there. Our academic staff specialize in the areas in which they teach. They spend most of their time working on these issues and then dedicate a few hours to share their expertise with our students. The groups are small in size and our system enables the lecturers to guide the students on a more personal level right from the beginning. By doing this, the growth and development that our students achieve over the year is truly spectacular.
Talk to us about the course “New Business Models” which you teach on.
Well, we have professionals who come to the design school to talk to us, but we also go out and visit them where they work. We organize visits to design studios in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. This is how our students can get first-hand insights into what working at a leading studio is like and everyone gets something different out of that experience. It’s something that then enables them to create their own vision of what they want their career to be, to really decide what their path should be like.
Alongside this program of studio visits, another important part of the Master’s Degree are the placements the students do. What are these placements like and what value do they have for the students’ career development?
Students have to a do a compulsory placement, as part of one of the modules, but students can do it wherever they want: it could be at one of the lecturers’ studios, with someone who works with us, or at a firm that students themselves have sought out. We can help the students to get the business experience that they need. That’s the key, because that’s how they’ll get a realistic vision of the world that’s waiting for them afterwards. It gives them invaluable know-how, enabling them to see the speed and rhythms at which people work, and what the internal organization of a studio is like.
The practical focus of the programme is also further strengthened by the range of agreements you have with companies for specific projects.
This year we’ve got a packaging project with a company through one of those agreements. The students take the knowledge and skills learnt in the programme and apply them to the project they’ve been commissioned to undertake. They receive guidance from the lecturers. But the most important thing is the feedback they get from the company. It’s about learning how to administer and handle the whole process involved in bringing a project for a specific client to a successful conclusion.
Valencia will be World Design Capital in 2022. What does this mean for Valencian design and for those who would like to work here?
Being World Design Capital will be like putting everything that has been done here over many years in the shop window. The talent and endeavour of many designers will then be visible to the whole world and this recognition is greatly deserved. From the point of view of future opportunities, it will really shake things up and multiply the options that exist for our students to become truly global in their outlook.
Practical training and placements are the key – the things that will really be the making of future professionals. As Pedro González says, “the future is going to be all about being open-minded and looking at the profession from multiple points of view. Design knows no borders and neither does our Master’s Degree or our students.”