Dezeen Magazine

Justin McGuirk

"We need critics and curators" says new head of Design Academy Eindhoven writing programme

Design writer Justin McGuirk has been named head of the writing and curating programme at Design Academy Eindhoven, with the school saying there is an urgent need to train a new generation of writers and critics.

McGuirk, a regular columnist for Dezeen, will work one day a week at the Dutch design school, where he hopes to attract talented young writers and thinkers who can help provide a new critical framework for design.

"The discipline [of design] has emerged as a kind of meta-discipline of the early 21st century," said McGuirk. "A discipline capable of addressing complex issues at multiple scales. Now we need critics and curators who are able to do justice to that role."

The new two-year master's course in Design Curating and Writing aims "to critically research how current developments in design are addressed and represented".

"For Design Academy Eindhoven this is about adding a level of intellectual depth to an institution that already produces some of the world's most sophisticated design graduates," McGuirk said.

Successful applicants will work alongside students from the Information Design, Contextual Design and Social Design master's courses.

"I see a great opportunity for burgeoning writers and curators to be embedded among design practitioners," said McGuirk. "Here they can be exposed to and forge alliances with designers. The other advantage is a design-style education encourages students to self-initiate and to develop their own practices."

Announcing McGuirk's appointment, Design Academy Eindhoven said there was an urgent need to train writers and designers from within the design world and that the critical discourse surrounding design had failed to keep up with changes in the discipline.

"Design has gained relevance in the last decade by keeping abreast with rapid developments in cultural, social, political, and technological domains," said the academy. "This, however, must be backed up with new formats for presenting and communicating the efforts of practitioners."

The school added: "There has also been talk within Design Academy Eindhoven about how too often design writers and curators are educated in art meaning they come to look at design with an art perspective. To train design writers and curators from within the design world – especially given the growth of design's reach – has become urgent."

Design Academy Eindhoven, regarded as one of the world's most important and influential design schools, recently made a series of changes to its courses to reflect the evolving nature of design.

Last year, creative director Thomas Widdershoven told Dezeen that technology, food, interaction design and service design had replaced furniture and products as the new frontiers for designers and that the school – which has long been known for its crafts-based approach – needed to address these shifts.

The school is actively forging links with technology institutions and has launched a food department headed by Marije Vogelzang.

Based in London, McGuirk is former editor of Icon magazine and is director of Strelka Press. In 2012 he was part of the team that won the Golden Lion for the best project at the Venice Architecture Biennale.

"What we want are engaged, critical and self-starting students who are ready for two years of intense discussion and research," said McGuirk. "Another advantage to a design-style education is that it encourages students to self-initiate and develop their own practices. Within that, the challenge of course is to maintain a rigorous academic standard."

The deadline for applications for the master's programmes at Design Academy Eindhoven has been extended to 25 May.