Why choose design?
If you want to turn knowledge into action, design is your academic home.
Become a designer
To become a designer you need to develop and combine many skills to be able to design well. You need to know how to design and how to use technology to produce your designs, and learn how to understand different groups of people so you can design for them. Business skills are also useful to make sure your products hit the market and skills in technology, research, teamwork, creativity, planning and communication will all make you a better designer.
Three sets of skills in broader context
Since the fifties, most international bodies of design define design as a discipline that brings together technology and humans. A good designer studies people and uses their technological skills in solving their problems. Since the eighties, most definitions add business into the equation, and since the nineties, research.
Many designers have more transitioned to projects that tackle the root causes of issues like inequality, global warming, and applications of emerging new technologies. As designers, we can’t avoid these broader questions and issues because many solutions that solve immediate problems may cause larger problems. Think about stretch fabric in clothing; it makes our clothes comfortable, but is almost impossible to recycle.
Typical learning path
Like any other form of education, design begins with the basics and gets more complicated as you progress. At the heart of your first year of study is learning how to use a process. Most problems that you will face as a designer are complicated, and the only way to tackle them is through a systematic process. In your second and third year, we give you the skills to enrich this process.
What you’ll learn
Good designers have lots of skills, but the good news is that they can be grouped into a few main categories. You also need these skills to navigate through the process successfully:
- Research skills for the early phase
- Creative skills for building new concepts
- Sketching and prototyping skills. These are discipline-specific. While a furniture builder prototypes in his studio, a chemical engineer may need a table that specifies the values of a molecule for a factory.
- Skills to evaluate and test your prototypes
- Several meta skills including teamwork and project management skills, as well as the basics of legal concepts of intellectual property (IP), contracts, and liability.
You’ll also need to be able to use 2D and 3D programs and have knowledge of physical modelling and computer-aided manufacturing. Finally, you should know how to put together a portfolio and how to communicate in front of an audience as well as in digital and interactive environments.
Hard and soft skills
All through your degree, you’ll learn many types of design skills. These skills vary from engineering science to creative techniques that you’ll need to be innovative.
Some of these skills are harder to describe in words. For example, one of the most important skills any good designer has is a tolerance of uncertainty and ambiguity.
You could also try to learn a foreign language. It’s hard to learn Italian, German or Chinese, but it pays off. Soft skills are important and difficult.
What kind of designer do you want to be?
You can be a designer in many different ways. Engineers may be passionate about technology, while design ethnographers enjoy creating an empathic sense of humans. Glassblowers discover new possibilities with their hands and eyes, while business managers are great at research, thinking and communication.