Video: Terry Irwin


Filmed on October 14, 2011, at “Pivot: AIGA Design Conference

About this video

It has been argued that the transition to a sustainable society is essentially a design problem, one of the most important of the 21st century. Making this transition will require nothing less than a reconstitution of our collective cultural image. Communication designers have an important role to play in this process. Our individual and collective worldviews are the result of our beliefs, values and cultural norms that often go unnoticed and therefore unchallenged, but which utterly direct the way we see the world and interact in it. Designers’ individual and collective worldviews direct whether or not they see problems, how they frame them in context and how they set about designing solutions. In short, our worldview controls how and what we design.

Speaker bio

Terry Irwin is the head of the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University and has been teaching at the university level since 1986. She has been an adjunct professor at Otis Parsons, in Los Angeles; California College of the Arts, in San Francisco; and the University of Dundee, in Scotland. She has also guest taught and lectured widely in North America and Europe. Irwin was a founding partner of the San Francisco office of the international design firm MetaDesign, where she served as creative director from 1992 to 2001. In 2003 Irwin moved to Devon, England, to earn a master’s degree in holistic science at Schumacher College, an international center for ecological studies, and joined the faculty there in 2004. In 2007 she moved to Scotland to undertake PhD studies at the Centre for the Study of Natural Design at the University of Dundee, Scotland. Irwin’s research explores how living systems principles can inform a more appropriate and responsible way to design. Irwin holds an MFA in design from the Allgemeine Kunstgewerbeschule in Basel, Switzerland.