The aims of educating for economic, cultural, and pedagogical purposes have existed since the early inception of art education. Looking at how and why these aims evolved in the early era of art and design education has potential for better understanding how and why design should be incorporated into the art education curricula today. This article places a special focus on economic considerations. In this climate of economic instability, some countries are considering design and design education as important for their competitive edge in the global economy. This is reminiscent of the call for education to improve design during the Industrial Revolution and should be considered germane again today.