The Changing Face of Design Education

  • By OSNS

    Published on 16 August 2012

As our world and profession continues to change, it is great to know that new progressive places of learning such as Hyper Island, Old School and Austin Design School are breaking ground through alternative course offerings.

By remaining progressive and in sync with the current creative and economic climate and student needs, these places bring out the best in their students, unlocking their potential and equipping them with realistic and relevant skills for the future. 

In turn, our industry can only benefit from a dynamic new context where inspiration, collaboration and understanding fuel pure creativity and communication. Times are changing and an incredible future awaits for those who want to join the ride!

Every year, new technologies are traversed, improved and evolve at lightening speed. The digital era has swept up students and professionals alike. The adrenalin rush is exciting and addictive but can be to the detriment of our creative integrity. As much as we want to be able to do it all, competing with the digital phenomenon demands a new kind of collaborative workplace.

Increasingly the creative community is seeking new means to support this digital momentum. Design and advertising agencies are outsourcing specific skills in order to meet comprehensive digital and print demands, while shared creative spaces and creative collaborations are fast becoming the alternative way of operating. With this in mind has emerged the esteemed Swedish School for Communication Design called Hyper Island.

Graduation 'Reflection and feedback session.' On a timeline of the past two years students draw up everything they have learned, filling a giant 1.5mx5m sheet of paper.

Island Fever

Hyper Island all started with three men, a few beers, and one vision. The year was 1994, and multimedia pioneers Lars Lundh, Jonathan Briggs, and David Erixon converged in a bar in Stockholm to discuss an upcoming CD-ROM project. Together they realized their new digital world demanded a new kind of learning that was collaborative, experiential and industry-based. With this in mind they envisioned a new place for learning that could prepare people for the lightening-fast pace of the modern creative workplace. A place where students could grow, not only as professionals, but also as human beings with strong collaborative and reflective skills. In the start-up spirit of the times, they thought, why not build it themselves?
Hyper Island is on the island of Stumholmen, just off the coast of Karlskrona in southwestern Sweden and the building is a former military prison. They named it Hyper Island because “hyper” was a popular coding term. Its doors opened in 1996 and its students studied in its cells. This unorthodox location turned out to be the perfect setting to bring their vision to life.

The original Hyper Island Building on the island of Stumholmen, just off the coast of Karlskrona in southwestern Sweden, the building is a former military prison.

Design manifesto

It was envisaged that the new center for learning would value personal and professional development equally. It would inspire creativity and innovation by challenging students to practice experiential learning: to vigilantly question, reflect deeply, and ceaselessly explore different approaches to challenges large, small, and unimaginable. An institution for industry based learning specifically created for Communication Design. 

Their philosophy: To create intensive, short and long-term programs and experiential environments for individuals and organizations to learn and grow, harnessing the power of transformative technology.

“Hyper Island is more than a school. It is a network, an attitude, a life style.”

The founders of Hyper Island also developed a manifesto, a way to encapsulate the Hyper Island experience.

Class action

In further detail those that participate become “Change Competent” when Hyper Island teaches 

group dynamics, 

creative principles, 

idea generation, 

and most importantly! feedback and reflection

The two main areas of learning focus at Hyper Island are: 

1. The Student Program which involves intensive learning experiences centred around digital art direction, e-Commerce and data strategy.

2. the Executive Programs, designed to boost understanding of how digital technology changes behaviour of societies and consumers. Also how organizations must change to stay creative and competitive in an increasingly digitized world. Twitter, Facebook, and Blog, they use it all. Their communication is brilliant.

An Experiment That Became A Revolutionary Way to Learn

What began as a bold experiment on a windswept island has become a revolutionary way to learn, reflect, collaborate, and above all, innovate. While Hyper Island's focus is on experiential learning it is important to note that their excellent teaching model was created by education experts. Since its 1996 inception, Hyper Island is now a worldwide school, located in Stockholm, Karlskrona, New York, London, and soon, Singapore. its Executive Program teams also travel the world, designing and executing learning experiences for Fortune 500 companies and start-ups alike. 

"The driving force, above all, is its alternative teaching and learning model that is based on shared learning and understanding that is experiential, plus critique and reflection. Understanding technology and its transformative effects on business and culture at large is also significant.

The end. 

Written by Emma Harrold, Design Director at Studio Teepee



Hyper Island

Hyper Island on Vimeo

Hyper Island

Campaign Brief


All images are taken from the above websites