Thinking about Design on the Southern Island
At first glance, Okinawa’s location, the most remote from the center of Japan, may seem disadvantageous as an environment for studying design. However, we consider our unique subtropical climate, the only one of its kind in Japan, to be a geographical advantage and actively conduct research to find clues to solving social problems.
For example, while learning the basics and applications of design extensively, we may include materials rooted in the local community as part of the curriculum to develop human resources to contribute to the local community. The “Design Planning” and “Development of Local Specialties” at the end of the second year are one such initiative. The students research actual cities, towns, villages, and organizations, and with the cooperation of each organization, plan special products (products, events, building designs, etc.) and make presentations at the sites. In some cases, research is conducted using actual places and products based on the conditions of companies and locations.
In addition, because our department is aware of the ties between industry and academia and expects effective contact with the real world. Hence, we encourage the use of internships (corporate internship system) in the third year and incorporate the many requests for design and planning proposals from local companies into classes and extracurricular activities as needed.
Seeking to Communicate Island-Conscious Design with the Coronavirus Disaster
Many of these community-based initiatives emphasize direct communication between people. Therefore, due to the impacts of the coronavirus disaster that has been continuing since last year, there were times when conventional methods of communication were impossible. On the other hand, due to the strong promotion of remote education, we have learned that some design education can be done remotely or is even more convenient. In addition, we have received requests from local companies to start a design education course using a remote environment (currently in the trial stage) and a request from sister schools in neighboring countries such as Taiwan and Indonesia to open a design-related course jointly. New possibilities are blossoming as online communication becomes the default.
Local specialty product development and exhibition presentation of Kunigami Village (2018)
Local specialty product development and exhibition presentation of Onna Village (2019)
Local specialty product development and exhibition presentation of Nakagusuku Village (2020)