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Transformative Teaching

Focus on Pedagogy 2022
Freedom, Choice, and the Psychology of Design’s Final Year Project
J. Ventura et al.
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm


The very definition and necessity of the final year project rise every few months in many design and architecture departments throughout the world. Albeit various drawbacks, and difficulties for both mentors and students alike, this old concept is still with us. In this paper, we wish to base our innovative approach on a combination of design theory and Bionian psychology. Conversely, we wish to decipher the final year project, as a key professional rite-of-passage, based on two key Psychoanalytic concepts vis-a-vis design theories. First, separation/individuation signifies a transition between an independent self and a sense of belonging to a larger social group. As in the classic Eriksonian sense, the adolescent child learns to distinguish between themselves and their friends, thus turning to exterior artefacts to profess their individuality. In the same manner, design students learn the same programs, apply the same methodologies and turn to the same sites for inspiration. Second, this process is augmented by the concept of ‘disciplined float’, a concept we offer to describe different elements of a mental position discussed in length by Bion, whereas the individual feels safe and productive when they know they are not completely free. This constructed freedom or defined limited choice actually meant to lower students’ stress and anxiety, since they are not suspended in an open-ended sea of potential choices. Based on these theories, we wish to situate our research in a key phase during the final project – exploration and ideation – which mirrors the search for a defined design concept. Psychologically, this phase resonates with the Bionian identification between the pre-awareness and awareness thinking that result in associative reasoning, which is crucial for design practitioners. This gap will allow for intricate and flexible thinking modes and the identification of opportunities throughout the creative process.


Prof. Jonathan Ventura (PhD) is a design anthropologist specializing in social and healthcare design, design research methodologies and design theories. Jonathan is the Chair of The Unit for History and Philosophy of Art, Design and Technology at Shenkar –Engineering. Design. Art., and an associate professor of design research and theory at the Department of Inclusive Design at Hadassah Academic College in Jerusalem. Jonathan is also a visiting fellow at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the Royal College of Art in London UK.

Galit Shvo is a designer and lecturer and researcher, who designs independent projects on the axis between the industrial world and the academic world. Over the past decade, she has focused on the theoretical, cultural, and ideological aspects of design. She is a graduate of the Department of Industrial Design, Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem (2003), and a graduate (with honors) of the Graduate Program in Industrial Design, Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design (2007). Galit has published several articles dealing with various theoretical attributes of design and participated in design exhibitions in Israel and around the world.

Dr. Ori Fish is a Licensed Educational Psychologist and Certified Supervisor. He wrote his Doctoral thesis at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, on the Psychoanalytic work of Wilfred R. Bion. Dr. Fish works as a practicing psychologist in Jerusalem. His field of research deals mainly with inter-disciplinary implications of the psychoanalytic theories of Bion to the fields of psychotherapy, designing, and education.