Curriculum


Curriculum

Learn about the courses, seminars, workshops and intensives.

The heart of the program is the mastering of three fields crucial to the future of design: Making, Structures, and Narratives.

 

Shorter, more intensive courses, mixed with a "no grades" policy translates into maximum risk and an optimized use of time, attention, and resources.

 

Making
Making grounds design and designers. In the Making track, students investigate multiple dimensions of physical design practice, its processes, and the tools that inform it. In Making, we deepen the connection to craft and the materials, tools, manufacturing processes,  and energy flows that underwrite it. We ground making in both the personal delight of the maker and the commercial, production, brand, and experiential possibilities that guide it.

Located on steps away from Products of Design is the new Visible Futures Lab. PoD students have priority access to the VFL; mix of a woodworking and machine shop, a rapid prototyping lab, an electronics lab, sewing & soft lab and gallery all in one space. The VLF is a state-of-the-art Maker Space featuring the latest tools for digital fabrication (see complete list of equipment here).

Structures
Structures inform practice. In the Structures track, students are immersed in the information and business structures that make effective design possible: research, systems thinking, strategy, user experience and interaction/information design. The Structures track gives students a capacity to put design in experiential, social, business and economic contexts.

Narratives
Design demands stories. At every step, the story of the design and its animating ideas must be made compelling through drawing, graphic representation, videography, history, writing, and point of view. In the Narratives track, students explore the storytelling dimension of design necessary throughout the design process—from idea to market.

Finally, the program is deliberate about cultivating the social conditions for success. Design is both personal and deeply collaborative. To prepare effective leaders, we help each student become confident in the three spheres that are vital to their success:

  1. Exploration (and sharing) of each student’s personal passion for design enterprise
  2. Expansion of the horizons of design through team-making, team-leading, and team-participation
  3. Connection of each student to the broader design network in New York and throughout the world to build the relationships that leverage multiple competencies and enable accomplished work.

Note that the majority of classes in the MFA Products of Design take place in the evening (typically 5 – 8pm), offering some flexibility to both students and faculty. That said, students are advised that the rigor of the course work requires a full-time commitment to the program.


FIRST YEAR COURSES

The first year experience is grounded in project-based work—both through semester-long courses as well as five-week studio intensives—providing a rapid immersion in making, research, strategy, storytelling and entrepreneurship, sharpening skill sets and fortifying critical thinking. Provocative speakers and inspiring field trips introduce real-world inspiration that expands the definition of “designer.”

Year 1 Fall

Making Studio [ + read full description]
Studio Intensive: Affirming Artifacts [ + ]
Systems, Scale and Consequence [ + ]
Design for Sustainability and Resilience [ + ]
Design Research and Integration
3D Product Design [ + ]
Mark Making and the Graphic Narrative [ + ]
Integrated Sustainability 1 [+]
Lecture Series and Studio Visits [ + ]
Seminar [ + ]

 

Year 1 Spring

Smart Objects [ + ]
Studio Intensive: Material Futures [ + ]
Studio Intensive: Design Performance [ + ]
Business Structures [ + ]
Framing User Experiences [ + ]
Design Narratives: Video Storytelling [ + ]
Design Narratives: Design Histories [ + ]
Design Narratives: Point of View [ + ]
Studio Intensive: Deconstruction and Reconstruction [ + ]
Studio Intensive: Intervention Interaction
Integrated Sustainability 2 [+]
Lecture Series and Studio Visits II [ + ]
Seminar II [ + ]

 

SECOND YEAR COURSES

The second year focuses on business structures, environmental stewardship, design metrics, strategy, and delight, culminating in a year–long thesis project that combines previous learning and individual passion. Interwoven with this purposeful, change–making work, students develop the personal, creative and business connections to enable their professional success. Students leave with comprehensive documentation, robust fluencies, and signature work.

Year 2 Fall

Thesis I: Research and Design Lenses [ + ]
Design for Social Value: Design and Ideology [ + ]
Design for Social Value: Design and Politics [ + ]
Leadership and Strategic Management [ + ]
Product, Brand, and Experience [ + ]
Integrated Sustainability 3 [+]

Year 2 Spring

Thesis II: Information Architecture and Documentation [ + ]
Futuring and Speculative Design [ + ]
Service Entrepreneurship [ + ]
Business Modeling [ + ]
Design Delight: Experience Design [ + ]
Designing for Multiple Screens [ + ]
Thesis Presentation [ + ]
Thesis Seminar [ + ]