This summer, two recent University of Houston School of Art alumnae will travel halfway around the world for DeProgram, an intensive three-week design program hosted in Den Haag, the Netherlands. The city of Den Haag — also called The Hague — is steeped in art history and known for producing many of today’s leading avant-garde graphic designers.
Madeleine Sanchez (BFA Graphic Design ’17), who will be joined by fellow alumna Victoria Peña (BFA Graphic Design ’17) at the program, describes the city as a cultural crossroads that brings international thought leaders together, providing a platform for idea exchange. “Progress in design requires collaboration and Den Haag is a global crossroads — one of the most interesting places I can imagine to study design,” Sanchez said.
Cheryl Beckett, UH associate professor of design and the creative director at Minor Design, agrees. “The Netherlands has a very distinctive attitude toward design,” she said, describing design as deeply integrated into the culture, imbuing the community with a particular intensity.
Under the direction of the College for Creative Studies’ Doug Kisor and with the guidance of leading graphic designers, Sanchez and Peña will be challenged to expand their approach to design by questioning expected models of practice. They will primarily focus on conceptual studio projects as they are encouraged to consider broad questions of who, what, where and why during the idea generation – or, the “invisible” part of the design process. They will also have the opportunity to tour designers’ studios, explore the city’s museums and travel to the surrounding cities to learn from guest critics.
“I’m really looking forward to the chance to build on my education at UH,” said Sanchez, whose work is motivated by ideas of human connection in everyday experiences. “I think this program will feed my curiosity and make me a better candidate for career in multidisciplinary design.”
“DeProgram is life changing,” said Beckett. Nearly 30 years ago, she was one of the program’s very first students and the experience still resonates with her. “It’s so inspiring! I can’t wait to see what they create.”