University of Johannesburg

The Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA) at University of Johannesburg offers programmes in eight creative disciplines, expanding these fields beyond their traditional boundaries through internal and external collaborations. It has a strong focus on sustainability and relevance, and engages actively with the dynamism, creativity and diversity of Johannesburg in imagining new approaches to art and design education. Equipped with state-of-the art, custom-built facilities, the Faculty is staffed by highly regarded academics, artists and designers.

The Faculty is home to approximately 1 300 students who study and work in the custom-built FADA Building on the Bunting Road Campus. 

Many of our graduates are employed in South Africa or internationally in diverse areas of industry, or work as freelance designers, architects or independent artists. Whatever their preference, they have been properly prepared as professionals through creative and entrepreneurial development, which are key factors in the programmes offered.

Reimagining Design Education Through Empathy

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Design Education Strategy

This paper will explore my intervention into decolonising design education as a response to bell hooks’ call for a teaching philosophy that recognises empathy and respect as devices for freedom and sustainable world making. By reflecting on my experience as a recent Masters degree graduate, a newly appointed first-year design lecturer and as a design mentor on a youth training programme I will provide evidence that, in the right learning environment, such a pedagogical approach is possible.

Transforming Fashion Education to Design with Intent

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Fashion, Jewellery & Textile Design

Two fundamental shifts are currently evident in design. Firstly, a growing call to integrate research and praxis is evident. Secondly, a call to move fashion design praxis to more relevant and value-adding environmental sustainable and user-centred design approaches is emerging. As such, fashion education should align itself to such shifts.

Reinventing design teaching in an era of exponential growth

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Design Education Strategy

Students across the globe are demanding a change in education.  In South Africa, the call is for ‘decolonisation’ of higher education.  Initially, the call was for free higher education, but students then demanded a significant overhaul of higher education; from the removal of symbols celebrating white supremacy, to a change in the selection criteria and policies to promote applicants on more indicators than academic aptitude alone.

Object Biographies as a method for Communication Design students to construct knowledge in the Design Studies classroom

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Media & Communications Design

This paper reports on the use of object biography writing as a method for Communication Design students to construct knowledge in the Design Studies classroom. Students used a guideline constructed around the stages of the birth, life and death of an object to write an object biography on a mass-manufactured object of their own choice with a focus on how the object is used by individuals to construct and express gender identity.

“Community” as the basic architectural unit: rethinking research and practice towards a decolonised education

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Architecture & Built Environment

As a contribution to the decolonisation debate, we need to develop theoretical frameworks that are better suited to diverse contexts, specifically Africa, and we need to elevate local knowledge systems, thinking that originates from the African continent and architectural theory from African scholars. It also demands a shift from documentation (which we tend to do when studying Africa) to interpretation and the development of new theories and new methodologies of research and practice.

A Humanistic Approach to Designing and Assessing Interactive-narrative Based Social Interventions

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Software, UX & Game Design

Decolonising digital media design education requires an investigation of possible techniques that can be taught to designers as a way of approaching interactive design with an emancipatory agenda. Traditionally, interactive-media studies have been taught from a positivist or psychological stance focusing predominantly on theories of human activity and cognition. In this paper I argue that the humanities offer an additional social and ethnographic lens with which to focus on the socio-historic, political and economic context of interactive media artefacts.

Decolonising Fashion Education with Athol Fugard's Boesman and Lena

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Fashion, Jewellery & Textile Design

At undergraduate level, research design and methodology was never a formalised part of the fashion education curriculum. Furthermore, fashion-related modules tend to comprise content predominantly of a Western nature: for example, the ‘history of fashion’ is often presented from a European perspective. In comparison to the vast, multi-disciplinary discourse relating to Western fashion, literature on African fashion is limited, which poses challenges for teaching, learning and curriculum transformation. The call for decolonisation has established a need to narrow this gap.

Don’t Touch Me on My Discipline! Decolonisation, Disciplinarity and the Problem of Curricular Coherence

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Design Education Strategy

Since the mid 1990’s, recurriculation efforts in South Africa have been marked by ideological complexity. Although there is general agreement, post-apartheid, that curriculum should contribute to the construction of a just, equitable and democratic post-apartheid society, the question of how to get there is not straightforward. Broadly speaking, in the new South Africa, curriculum reform has been oriented around a liberal democratic notion of transformation.

A Holistic Approach to the Decolonisation of Modules in Sustainable Interior Design

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Interior & Furniture Design

This paper stems from the need to develop and deliver a new module in sustainable interior design (BASD6B2) at a 2nd year level within a new Degree programme at the University of Johannesburg, in 2017.  This module’s development however relies on a reflection on another sustainable interior design module (BASD6B1) in the curriculum, offered at a 1st year level. The paper also secondly arises from the national call for the transformation and decolonisation of education programmes in South African tertiary institutions.

Role with the Students: A Social Constructivist Decolonising Teaching Strategy for Visual Literacy in Fashion Design Programs

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Fashion, Jewellery & Textile Design

Visual literacy is a core competency required to express and reinforce cultural identity through clothing in the realm of fashion, and is therefore important within the context of decolonising fashion design education. Traditionally, curricula focused on the Euro-centric concept of fashion and accordingly, teaching methods and design products expected from students were mostly applicable within this context. Nevertheless, in South Africa, due to political and educational reform, the demographics of students in fashion design programs in Universities have changed radically over the past two decades to include diverse African and South African cultures.

Transforming the Training: Ethical considerations in Re-designing an Incubation Model aimed to Train Aspiring Fashion Design Entrepreneurs

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Fashion, Jewellery & Textile Design

Empowerment incubation is a strategy to address unemployment in South Africa. It was determined during 2013 that 50% of jobs were lost in the South African Clothing and Textile Industry since 2003. Contrariwise, this situation has presented opportunities for prevailing local fashion design businesses to collaborate on government funded initiatives that promote transformation and empowerment linked to entrepreneurial opportunities.

Architecture and agency: ethics and accountability in teaching through the application of Open Building principles

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Architecture & Built Environment

This paper will explore the notion of ethics in the built environment, and professional accountability, topics which are generally sidelined or given little direct consideration in teaching and practice. However, this status quo is increasingly being questioned. Built environment educators and practitioners need now to develop the intellectual and skill resources to address new questions, formulate a position, and set guidelines to be able to incorporate and make these ‘measurable’ in the performance of educators and practitioners, and for achieving a level of accountability.

Corporate social responsibility: An exploration of initiatives in clothing brands

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Fashion, Jewellery & Textile Design

Ethics and accountability in design appear to have increased momentum as individuals and corporations are increasingly conscious of the detrimental implications of immoral business practices. The accountability and responsibility of both individuals and organisations are significant to business practice. This has become increasingly apparent due to the role business must play if humanity and the environment are to thrive in future. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is mounting in emphasis within corporations, as identified through various bodies of research. This paper positions ethics and accountability in design practice from the lens of CSR initiatives.

The Firma Model: A Tool for Resolving Complex Societal Problems

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Design Education Research

As the focus of design broadens to include problem solving located in complex societal systems the emphasis in design education must shift accordingly. Knowledge of and competence in conducting research within the scope of design practice, and using insights gained from research to conceptualise appropriate solutions is a necessity that design students urgently require.  In support of this need, this paper  will  introduce  and  describe  the  Firma  Model,  a  meta-framework  that  spans  the  human- centered design process, which aims to assist the design student and educator in grappling with complex problems.

Future fit, socially responsible fashion designers: The role of fashion education

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Discipline: 

Fashion, Jewellery & Textile Design

The multifaceted and complex phenomena of ethics and accountability have relevance for the current discourse of fashion design. This is evident in the choice of materials used, the conditions under which clothing is produced, as well as how designers think about and implement the practice of fashion. Fashion practice has environmental and ethical impacts that ultimately connect human wellbeing and society with sustainable practice.

Mr Paterson's rounded testimony: ethics, intersubjectivity and the interview

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Discipline: 

Design Education Research

As the interview as a method of data gathering has gained in popularity in the disciplines of art and design, templates of consent letters are generated in their hundreds, and the absence of a duly signed document  —  in  a  research  output  using  humans  as  a  source  of  data  —  usually  renders  the undertaking unethical and invalid. However, in the rush to protect the institution and its agents against litigation, it is perhaps forgotten that the signing of the obligatory letter is only a first, technical, step in a personal encounter between individuals.

Ethics in design and issues of social class: reflecting on the learning unit: Design and the Construction of Class Distinction

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Product & Industrial Design

The second year Design Studies learning unit “Design and the Construction of Class Distinction” (BA Communication Design, Industrial Design, University of Johannesburg) introduces students to definitions of social class in terms of capitalism (Olin-Wright 2008, Goldthorpe 1980, Crompton 1998, 2003) as well as to Bourdieusian concepts of habitus, field and capital (Bourdieu 1989; Weininger 2005, Bennett, et al 2010; Jenkins 2003; Grenfell 2003).

Wicked ethics in Design

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Media & Communications Design

Wicked problems are wicked because, amongst other things, understanding problems as existing in society, at the intersection of many possible points of views held by a variety of potential stakeholders introduces indeterminacy. Ethical frameworks in this context may also be multiple and may exist in harmony or dis-harmony alongside each other.

Framing Complexity: an experience-led approach to designing user research

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Media & Communications Design

Human-Centered Design (HCD) methods have been identified as valuable and effective approaches to designing with and for people, but is also due to complexity and indeterminacy, often difficult to practice. With the popularisation of HCD in contemporary design education, and the subsequent emphasis of human-centered research an ethical question arises as to whether design students are adequately prepared to engage with the type of research that more and more they are expected to conduct.

The Betterness of Braamfontein

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Graphic Design & Visual Art

In this paper, we argue that the current environmental information system of Braamfontein is problematic as it is ethically unconsidered and overwhelmingly bias towards the interests of commercial  stakeholders  -  over  those  of  the  residents,  workers,  students  and  visitors.  While  a business is justified to act in a conceited manner, we believe that information provided to the public in a public space needs to be more utilitarian, servicing the needs of the majority over those of the few.

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