School of Design in the 1960s

Wes McClure was a student in the College of Design in the 1960s, and he discusses the schools programs and philosophy.

Interview on 2014-12-04

Transcript

00:00:00.000 One is it was a multidisciplinary school, so we had architects, landscape architects, and what were then called product designers. Now you’d call them industrial designers.
00:00:11.884 I think that’s what they’ve changed the name to. We didn’t have graphic design, we didn’t have art and design and some of these other disciplines then, but it was multidisciplinary.
00:00:18.689 So at the beginning everybody took the same basic design course and to this day I have friends who were in my basic design class, most of whom are retired.
00:00:32.069 So you were taking classes and exploring design problems with students who were going to go on into other fields, related but still a little bit different.
00:00:45.551 My freshman design professor was Wayne Taylor and he was really good, kind of an architect-artist.
00:00:55.959 In the design professions there’s always this question of whether you are a professional or an artist or both, you know, and how is a designer different from an artist,
00:01:08.973 so when you’re in basic design you’re really starting at a very basic level, so it’s really more about art. In those days it was.
00:01:19.349 You honed your drawing skills. I had a drawing professor, Raymond Musselwhite, who was a sculptor but he taught me–. I love to draw, and I’ve drawn since I was – [way] before I went to college.
00:01:31.642 He taught me more about drawing because it’s about how you see as well as what you do with your hands. It’s kind of hand-eye coordination.
00:01:42.474 So the foundation years were all about honing those basic skills, getting ready then to use them professionally, and if you were a landscape architect you’d use them one way;
00:01:53.049 if you’re a product designer you’re going to be looking at designing cars and other things; if you’re an architect you’re going to start to focus on buildings.
00:01:59.690 So that didn’t happen until really the third year because the second year you got some more cross-disciplinary things, like a landscape studio in my case,
00:02:10.333 with Professor Phillips, and you got to really be friendly with other students that were in these other disciplines, one who became my partner after I graduated and was a landscape architect.
00:02:25.015 So you sort of forge some bonds with these other students and with these other disciplines.
00:02:33.223 One of the things about the design education is, in this multidisciplinary environment, you were doing this cross-disciplinary work
00:02:43.868 which is a really important foundation for what happens when you get out in practice.