Furniture Design, Industrial Design, and Metals and Jewelry Design—three KCAD programs with a shared history of leading graduates to professional success—have merged into Product Design, a forward-thinking BFA program driven by where design is now and where it’s headed next.
Industries around the globe are looking for individuals with a broad understanding of design and how to apply it in the world. So, we took the natural step of converging three programs with a common foundation of skills and processes and evolved them into a learning environment that prepares graduates to be big picture thinkers and makers, while still enabling them to specialize in a single discipline. The result for our students: stronger, broader portfolios of work and a highly marketable set of skills and experiences.
Industrial designers, furniture designers, and jewelry designers all create objects that respond to human need, challenge convention, and elevate the lived experience. In the Product Design program, the distinct perspectives and skill sets of these three disciplines converge to build on one another, growing designers who have a uniquely broad understanding of the design process coupled with deep expertise in the concentration of their choosing.
From a solid foundation of critical research, ideation, making, and experimentation, you’ll advance to solving real-world design problems in a collaborative and interdisciplinary learning environment that reflects the working reality of 21st-century creative professionals.
You’ll spend your first two years in the Product Design program building the core technical skills of design while also deepening your understanding of the human-centered design process. Through hands-on experiences, you’ll actively learn how to understand the problem or people you’re designing for, identify solutions or opportunities that have the greatest potential for real-world success, and transform your ideas into tangible, feasible, and marketable objects.
Your final two years will be focused on deepening your expertise in—and real-world exposure to—one of three possible disciplines:
You’ll also round your education out with a wide range of general education and art/design history courses that will stimulate your curiosity, broaden your perspective, and inspire new creative expressions. KCAD’s flexible General Education Pathways model empowers you to direct your learning by exploring subjects you find most engaging and relevant.
In the Product Design program, you’ll develop a versatile set of creative skills—including research methods, design sketching, color theory, visual communication, CAD modeling, digital rendering, digital fabrication, and physical model making—that will ultimately enable you to build expertise in:
Ideation and Experimentation
Technical Precision, Feasibility, and Craftsmanship
The Product Design program is powered by a collaborative, interdisciplinary, and outward-facing studio culture that will expand your perspective and enlarge your sense of possibility. You and your fellow students will support each other’s growth through peer review, while experiences outside of the classroom will connect you to West Michigan’s booming design industry.
Throughout your time in the program, you’ll get up close and personal with industry professionals and subject matter experts, making invaluable networking connections and building a strong, career-focused portfolio through sponsored projects, professional critiques, and internship experiences.
The Product Design program evolves three KCAD programs—each with a strong track record of leading graduates to professional success—into a forward-thinking learning experience driven by where design is now and where it’s headed next. Thanks to a unique blend of classic industry training and an interdisciplinary approach to design, you’ll emerge from the program prepared to adapt to and thrive within a wide variety of professional settings.
Whether you’re looking to make your mark in an organization or make your own way as an entrepreneur, you’ll become a leader who can grow in step with a rapidly-changing world and use your creativity to bring lasting value to individuals, companies, and culture-at-large.
On campus, you’ll have access to:
Off-campus, opportunities to connect with leading designers who visit Grand Rapids and KCAD’s strong relationships with the local chapters of the Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA) and the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) provide opportunities for you to immerse yourself in the larger design community.
Ready to get started? Apply now!
Download the catalog for the most recent course listings and prerequisites.
Thanks to a unique blend of classic industry training and an interdisciplinary approach to design, you’ll emerge from the Product Design program prepared to adapt to and thrive within a wide variety of professional settings.