I have always held the view that student designers should not work on professional projects, at least not until they are close to finishing their education. This is contrary to the practice that many design schools seem to have adopted where students work on professional projects under the guise of ‘classroom project’ right from the second year of their design education. I believe professional projects can do huge harm to a student’s future career. The same is also true for students who start freelancing on the side while studying.
Design as a practice has a pretty defined process that needs to be followed. The process is often not visible in the final outcome but it is definitely impacted by it. Since the process is invisible and tedious, it is often compromised to save time. The only time a designer follows a rigorous design process is when when he or she is a student. The focus is on process and the final outcome actually does not matter (failing to produce a result is also fine). This is how good design teachers judge design projects too. A student has to do so many different projects using the design process that the process needs to get internalized and almost become an intuition.
A professional designer uses the intuitional design process (which saves a lot of time) and creates a great result. At this stage, his client and the result are far more important than the process and he will be judged on the result. A professional will never have enough time to learn the process. A good professional is never worried about the outcome of the project, as he will depend on the process.
I hope our design schools learn this basic difference.
Sudhir Sharma, Editor-in-Chief