Design Academia - 国公立デザイン系大学会議

Our university has established the Center for Regional Collaboration as a contact point for regional and social collaboration. We received requests from local companies and municipalities to the university for solutions to various problems that are divided into three categories: 1) “Design Research and Development Commissioned Projects”, in which faculty members take the initiative in handling their own research and design projects; 2) “Regional Collaboration Exercises”, for undergraduate students as class projects; and 3) “Regional Special Project Exercises”, for graduate students. The “Regional Collaboration Exercises” was launched in 2014 and is open to students in their second year of undergraduate studies or above who wish to participate. The content of the projects varies widely, including product development for companies, local events, and the design of local specialties.

The table below shows the number of social collaboration activities conducted before and after the coronavirus pandemic. The number of activities has increased considerably this year. Compared to last year, when we went through a trial-and-error process of putting classes online, which we had almost no experience with. This year, we have established preventive measures (masks, handwashing, precautionary measures for “three Cs”, etc.) and online communication methods based on the “with coronavirus” premise. The increase of activities could result from the establishment of online communication methods, and the way of activities have permeated throughout society.


Activities During Coronavirus Pandemic

We would like to mention a specific class that was held this year. This is the third time this year that we have held a class with a storage furniture manufacturer in Sanjo City, Niigata Prefecture. In the past, a sneaker rack proposed by the students was commercialized and featured in the Nikkei Shimbun’s “Product from the Campus” section. In this exercise, students are free to come up with design proposals, which are then discussed with company representatives and materialized into prototypes. If the product is judged to have marketability, it will be commercialized. Due to the nature of the class, it was necessary to have many meetings with the person in charge. However, the meetings were held in different media and locations: online for meetings mainly to communicate information, SNS for the exchange of design ideas between the students and the person in charge and meeting face-to-face to confirm and discuss the model. We had meetings in different media and locations. It was impressive to see how we have used different means of communication smoothly to work together.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Nagaoka City has implemented mass priority vaccination to universities and technical colleges in the city, following vaccination of medical personnel, people with underlying diseases, and people over 65 years old. As of the end of July, 60.1% of our university students and 83% of our faculty members were vaccinated, lowering the psychological barrier to external activities. Although we should not be overly optimistic about the future, especially with the spread of the delta strain, social collaboration activities in the prefecture have become a natural part of our activities. It may mean that the new normal is being established without us even knowing it.


Number of requests for social collaboration


A sneaker rack commercialized based on a student’s proposal


A meeting between students and a representative of a storage furniture manufacturer