JMC Academy launches Digital Design course

From February 2015, JMC Academy Sydney will be offering a new course, in Digital Design. 

IMG_1909contrasted.jpgThe new course will be centred around design for the future, designing for apps and devices as well and spaces and experiences. An incredibly hands-on course, students will study in a studio, designed to mimic a real-world industry environment, and be immersed in the digital tools and software required for a career in design. Here, students will be given real-world projects to include in their first portfolio. Classes will be small, so as to maximise interaction with lecturers and make the learning experience more personal. These lecturers will have an industry background, and bring with them a wealth of experience, not only in design, but in working clients and working to deadlines. 

Rahul Nath, the head of Digital Design, talks here about the course; what to expect, what skills you should come in with, and what you will leave with. 

Read the transcript:

"Hi, I’m Rahul Nath, Head of Design here at JMC Academy Sydney. We are starting a new course, It’s a Bachelor of Design (Visual Communications). The course is available in both Bachelor and Diploma. You can take a two year Bachelor Degree, or you can cut it short, and exit with a diploma after the first eight months. 

The requirements of entry here at JMC Academy are an ATAR of 65 and above, and an interview where you bring a portfolio. What do I mean by a portfolio? I mean bring something in that shows me your desire to study design. It might be things you’re interested in, it might be magazines, it might be a piece of writing on design. It could be collection of photographs. Just something that shows me that you are interested in design, and you have the capability to study it. 

We’re launching our new degree in Sydney in February 2015. What does digital design mean to me? So I don’t really separate the design disciplines. I think design is design, so there’s digital design, there’s graphic design, there’s print design, there’s product design, there’s experience design. I think the fundamental process of design is the same. The difference is the medium in which we design for. And that’s why digital design is really exciting, because it’s the newest and most interesting place to be designing right now. 

My background was industrial design, and in my opinion, we don’t need another chair in this world. What we need is better user experiences. And that’s where digital design can come in. What’s the difference between digital user experience and spatial user experience? In this course, I think we blend the two together. I will ask students to create a digital experience which might be on a screen, or it might be something you touch, or interact with. But also, it may apply in a space. So you design actually both. One example I can think of recently is at Central Park, where Adobe had the heart tree. So it was a tree with internal lighting, and you would walk up to it and place your hand on it, and the tree would sense your heartbeat, and the lights on the tree would pulse. So this was a really interesting fusion of spatial design and digital interactivity.

What can you expect you see in the course? The course is founded around four different strands. Apps – so app design. Web – website design. Spatial design, and experience design. And of course, all of those blend in together as well. 

With apps, what we’re talking about – what we’ll get students to do is to sketch out and prototype an app on paper, then we’ll take photos of those sketches and we’ll mock it up in our phone. Then from there, we’ll take that and fully build a live digital app. 

For websites it’s the same thing. We’ll get people to mock up a website on paper, we’ll prototype test that, we’ll wireframe it - and then we’ll give them the tools to properly build a fully live website. 

With spatial design in this course, it’s really a digitally activated space. And if I could give an example, MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania (it’s a really amazing space), when you go in there, you’re given an iPad. None of the exhibits have any information. There’s nothing on the wall, there’s nothing written. It has no name. You take your iPad or your device, and you go up, and when you’re in near contact with this device, the information comes up on screen. So this is the type of digitally activated space I’m talking about when I talk about spaces. So our students can design that whole experience, of interacting with a space, with a device. 

Lastly I’d like to talk about experience design which I think is the core tenet of the entire course. Experience design is where we map out the whole user experience from beginning to end, interacting with a product or service. And companies around Australia are really crying out for designers who can do this type of thing. 

I’m talking about Coles, with the way they’ve laid out their supermarkets, Qantas with their check-ins - they’ve done the same. And Commonwealth bank are just currently rolling out a better user experience as you go into a bank. 

JMC Academy is in a unique position with their design course, in that it is very new. And we can be at the cutting edge of what is new in design. So in this course we can use the latest tools. We’ll be involved with 3D printing, we’ll be involved with app design, Adobe digital publishing suite, with devices like Google Glasses, all these kind of really cool things that are new territory in design. 

Also JMC Academy is in a really great position of being a creative hub. If you were at another school you might not have the opportunity to collaborate with all these other cool creative people. Film & Television, Music, Audio – you’ll be able to collaborate with these people here at JMC Academy because they’re all here in one place. 

The career a student can expect – first going into an internship from JMC Academy, and then going into a career in design. These could be things from a Digital Producer, a user experience designer, a website designer, exhibition designer, events designer, it actually goes on and on. Because what I want to do is give students the confidence to go into a job interview that is to do with design and say, “I understand the design process. I can apply it to the design problems and technologies you have in your agency." 

It would be my goal for students to be a little bit cross-disciplinary, with a specialisation in digital design. 

What I need you to do is to start becoming collectors. I need you to be interested in design, and culture, and things in your environment and start to record and collect these things. Pinterest is a really great example of the ways you can do this; collecting some of your niche interests. For me it was design books and magazines. I have crates and shelves of this stuff at home. It also gives you a great library and also starts developing your interest and tastes in design. Another piece of advice I have it to have a sketch book with you at all times, and just to be recording your thoughts and ideas and practicing sketching. It doesn’t have to be beautiful finished drawings, it just has to be a way of communicating and a way of recording your ideas about design."