Four years of MFA Products of Design graduates are now out in the world, and here below share their thoughts looking back at the program:


"Learning a skill takes time. Learning many skills simultaneously takes a team of talented faculty. Learning the courage to apply those skills takes an environment that celebrates risk, challenges preconceptions and empowers the student. I now run my own design studio in New York and work with an amazing range of clients from GE to Miley Cyrus. I wouldn't have been able to do any of it without the skills, network and courage I gained during my studies at Products of Design."
 
—Richard Clarkson
Founder and Senior Designer at Richard Clarkson Studio, LLC.

 

“My biggest takeaway from the program is around confidence: I know myself better and understand my strengths. I can jump into conversations easily. I can take on leadership roles and be seen as someone who can be trusted."

 

"The most valuable piece of my education at Products of Design was learning to attentively critique, question, and confidently articulate a perspective on systems, trends, and problems as well as on the design process itself. It is a tribute to the wonderful combination of powerhouse faculty and staff, contextualized and adaptive pedagogy, a multifaceted student body, and the freedom to experiment and self-direct."

—Jenna Witzleben
Design Strategist, Arup

 

"Home to a host of diverse backgrounds and talents, Products of Design was the bridge between my past experience as a biology student to my future on the creative team at VICE Media. Rigorous and nimble, the program engaged and taught a wealth of skills: from creative concepting, graphic design and art direction, to brand strategy and pitching; from user experience and interaction design, to video editing and storytelling––all of which I’ve employed and further developed both personally and professionally. It was a tough two years, but also a fruitful and formative two years!"

—Isioma Iyamah
Creative, VICE Media

 

"I don't think I will ever forget what the program did for me. I came in with nothing and I left with everything. It was an extraordinary experience where I explored a wide array of design lenses with a star-studded faculty and an extremely talented, rare, diverse group of individuals. 

Every week brought wonder and serendipitous, magical opportunities. Examples include meeting Neri Oxman and Michael Beirut, participating in a Hackathon for the Cooper Hewitt around their digital pen, and of course the unique opportunity to design products for the world's most honorable brand—the Museum of Modern Art."

—Oscar de la Hera Gomez
Creative Technologist, R/GA

 

My new abilities and comfort with graphic design, UI/UX design, industrial design, and strategic design set me up perfectly for my current position as a senior analyst at Johnson & Johnson Design."

 

"Making the transition from Wall Street to design wasn't easy, but the Products of Design program—the faculty, the demanding workload, the maker space, the network—provided me with the skills and confidence necessary to excel. My new abilities and comfort with graphic design, UI/UX design, industrial design, and strategic design set me up perfectly for my current position as a senior analyst at Johnson & Johnson Design, where my work ranges from in-depth, in-the-weeds design work, to strategic design of initiatives that impact billions of people as Johnson & Johnson endeavors to profoundly change the trajectory of health for humanity. Make no mistake, the program will push you to work harder than you've ever worked before in your life, but there is always time afterwards to catch up on sleep."

—Souvik Paul
Senior Analyst, Johnson & Johnson

 

“It was a transformational journey to attend MFA Products of Design—for many reasons. But in the end I emerged with my own manifesto, a roadmap for my dream projects, and new skill sets...alongside an extensive design vocabulary that continues to give me confidence in my career.”

—Berk Ilhan
Lead Designer, NewLab

 

“Products of Design is a multi-disciplinary design program that is firmly at the intersection of making, thinking and doing. It’s super challenging because it requires you to constantly prototype, to iterate, and to think not only about the “what”, but also about the why. It deconstructs the typical design process, then helps you put it back together for yourself.”

—Cassandra Michel
Design Researcher, frog design

 

“My biggest takeaway from the program is around confidence: I know myself better and understand my strengths. I can jump into conversations easily. I can take on leadership roles and be seen as someone who can be trusted. I am highly organized. In the end, the program has allowed me to create ambitious goals for myself, and then to achieve them.”

—Kathryn McElroy
User Experience Designer, IBM Watson

 

“The program helps you understand that design isn’t just about the product, but also about the context—the surrounding elements; oftentimes, the user experience may be more important than the physical product itself.”

—Emi Yasaka
Environmental Designer, Twenty Four 7

 

“I’m taking into my professional career the soft skills that I learned in the program: How to write a generous email; how to talk about design with a contemporary vocabulary; How to visualize information and systems; and the acknowledgment that prototyping can equal thousands of words.”

—Rona Binay
Designer, Pentagram

 

“What am I most proud of from my time at Products of Design? Well, I was unemployed for less than a week after graduating!”

 

“What am I most proud of from my time at Products of Design? Well, I was unemployed for less than a week after graduating!”
—Charlotta Hellichius
Strategist/Designer at PSFK Labs

 

“I met a prospective student at this year’s Open House, who said that she was impressed with the kinds of jobs people were getting—not just the places where they were working.”

—Samantha Moore
Design Strategist, Aruliden

 

"In the Products of Design department, I learned how to approach difficult design challenges from very diverse perspectives. By expanding my vernacular, I was able to understand how I can personally contribute my skills and knowledge as a strategic design thinker and continue to grow in the real world."

—Elisa Werbler
Art Director and Design Lead, Red Antler

 

"One of the main reasons I decided to attend Products of Design is the impressive faculty list of top industry leaders within the business and design world. I was able to absorb and grok meaningful skills and knowledge from each—positioning me to where I wanted to be as a designer. I came away with a strong professional network that led to my position at frog design as well as Motivate."

­—Damon Ahola
Product Designer, Motivate (Citi Bike)

 

“The program is thoughtful and crazy. There’s an insane amount of work, high expectations and so many incredibly talented people. You basically live in school, and you become a new person. I got a breadth of education and exposure that I couldn't have gotten anywhere else. The whole premise of the program is - when you learn how to make, speak and perform like a great designer, then you become one.”

—Charlotta Hellichius
Strategist/Designer at PSFK Labs

 

The program helped me to understand the role of designer as catalyst—knowing when to insert yourself into a conversation, and when to bring up a specific subject to contribute to it; knowing when it’s your voice that needs to be heard, when to agitate, and when to instigate.

—Zena Verda Pesta
Program Curator & Consultant for Strategy and Development, Beam Center
Domain Director, Beam Camp

 

"PoD changed the course of my professional life. In those two years, I found my creative voice, learned skills I now use every day, gained creative confidence, and met a group of people who will be my friends and colleagues for life."

—Lucy Knops
Brand Creative Senior Manager, Mara Hoffman

 

“The most difficult thing that I did in the program was the thesis. It was designed to be as much about the process as it is the deliverable, and it forced me to get out into the world and work with people that were outside of my domain. It was the biggest challenge...with the biggest payoff.”

—Matthew Barber
Production Designer, SYPartners

 

“For sure the most valuable thing I learned in the program is the design thinking process. I apply that to everything now. I apply to everything in life. That’s been a great tool.”

—Samantha Moore
Design Strategist, Aruliden

 

"PoD changed the course of my professional life. In those two years, I found my creative voice, learned skills I now use every day."

 

What do you do when faced with a new frontier, a problem without precedent? How do you know what questions to ask, what to try first? Increasingly it is we as designers that are turned to for leadership to navigate these complexities, and Products of Design prepared me for that reality. And while I learned a wide range of frameworks, processes, and technical skills that I still use in my work, it is the confidence I've gained in the face of ambiguity that has proven most valuable in my work and life."

—Joseph Weissgold
Head of Invention, Future Laboratories

 

"Presentation has always been a part of my process, so I take that stuff very seriously. But we worked on presentation so much in the program–being able to speak about the work, to construct the story, and to create concise narratives that were overtly humanistic."

—Clay Kippen
Experience Designer, Collins.