Best Industrial Design Schools
Industrial design is the application of design concepts to manufactured products utilizing techniques of mass production. The key distinction from simple manufacturing is that the defining of product form occurs in advance of physically fabricating the product. The product is further defined through the use of digital models, sketches, and prototypes. Industrial design products are often manufactured using precise and often automated replication.
The industrial design process follows many stages and methods; it is often conducted by a large team and can have emphasis on aesthetics or efficiency with consideration of materials and costs, production processes, consumer and commercial requirements such as tolerance to failure rates, or aesthetic properties. An industrial designer creates and executes solutions to the problems of ergonomics, form and material qualities as well as considering marketing and brand philosophy, and sales considerations such as product quality vs. cost of manufacture.
Top 10 Industrial Design Schools in the United States
15 Reasons to Study Industrial Design
Top 10 Industrial Design Schools in the World
#1. Rhode Island School of Design, USA
Located alongside Brown University, the creation of Rhode Island dates back approximately 140 years. RISD was one of the first schools to offer a Bachelor of Fine Art B.F.A. Industrial Design. The industrial design school is known for the rigor of its program, its considerable focus on practical studio coursework, stringent admission requirements and for having a strong academic and private practice network.
The 4 year B.F.A. Industrial Design program begins with a Foundation Year which comprises of core courses in Drawing, Design, Spatial Dynamics and Liberal Arts courses. The Sophomore year introduces more hands on studio based education alongside theory, with courses in Design Principals, Wood, Metal and Solidworks.
In year 3 students spend more time in studios with open electives in Metal or Wood, and courses in Manufacturing Techniques. Final year courses in Designing with Rhino and significant studio and project work. Studio work is designed to be progressively more difficult throughout the program with students gaining increasing awareness of materials and in depth understanding of visual and 3D vocabulary.
An emphasis is put on the traditional concepts in industrial design and future trends in the profession in all stages of student education from developmental drawings, 3D models and working drawings and prototypes incorporating manufacturing considerations.
[RISD Industrial Design @ 2:38]
RISD has well equipped facilities for industrial design including a Woodshop, Modelshop , D Metal / Machineshop, Metalwork shop, and the most advanced computer hardware and software, although all students in industrial design must purchase a laptop up to the specifications of the department. Digital fabrication technologies include laser cutting, CNC milling + lathing, rapid prototyping, vacuum forming and more. Students also have access to facilities from other specializations at RISD.
Example of RISD student work – Brett Newman
#2. Florence Design Academy, Italy
Firenze (Florence) Design Academy is located right in the heart of old Florence, a historical center of design. The location of this design academy is the first signal of its importance, as depicted in the photo it is right next to Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and the building directly in front The Baptistery of St. John. Aside gaining a world leading education, living abroad in this glorious Italian city has a value of its own in the rich life experiences and opportunities for new friends and contacts. How can one not get inspired creatively when surrounded by this historic city, the birthplace of the Renaissance.
Industrial Design is taught as a one year, two year or three year course. The three year course is pitched at the highest level the Academy has to offer. Students and professionals in the three year program also complete the Masters level program and will be awarded with a Masters at the conclusion of the third year. After three years the Academy expect that a student will be able to speak Italian fluently so that the skills and knowledge gained by the student may be practiced at some time in their careers in connection to Italy.
During their time at FDA students have the opportunity to take part in international industrial design competitions which give students the chance to put theory and skill into real world practice. Staff at FDA industrial design school have a deep repository of knowledge in regard to traditional industrial design while also maintaining a leading position in the development of product design trends, the use of new materials and technology and the use of digital modelling.
The school is well equipped with the latest hardware, and software suites include Autocad, Adobe, 3D Studio MAX, Rhinoceros 3D and more.
Courses are taught in the English language.
#3. Carnegie Mellon University, USA
Prestigious Carnegie Mellon University, located near downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania recently celebrated 80 years success in preparing future industrial designers to be on the forefront of shaping culture and society.
CMU Design program: A Refrigerator Concept by Carroll Gantz (1953)
CMU is a globally recognized research institution and maintains strong technical connections to industry while idealizing a holistic, liberal arts model of education. Furthermore, the school boasts elite business and computer science programs which support the strength of the schools design programs. Carnegie Mellon provides an extensive choice of interior design degrees.
The CMU School of Design changed its undergraduate degree from Bachelor of Fine Arts B.F.A. to Bachelor of Design B.Des in recognition of the growing importance of the design as distinct from Fine Art. The undergraduate program gives students the choice of specialized skills in Industrial Design, Communication (Graphic) Design and Design for Environments (physical and digital environments), while also providing all specializations with the core foundation in Design theory and practice.
Coursework at CMU is a balance of theory and practice encompassing both traditional core principals with new, emergent technologies. In Industrial or Product Design, students design products based upon an understanding of differing human needs and develop an understanding of the way products shape behaviours. CMU emphasise product design as part of larger systems; systems thinking is taught in an iterative and collaborative approach that utilizes the knowledge of multiple disciplines.
CME Design program: Prosthetic by Colin Matsco (2006)
Students are taught approaches such as cradle to cradle, lifecycle analysis and the use of environmentally friendly manufacturing techniques and materials. CMU industrial design school is well equipped with analog and digital prototyping shops with traditional wood and metal materials and digital design labs with CAD software and 3D printers.
CMU boasts an alumni that includes designers associated with the iPhone, Adidas, PUMA and Nike footwear, BMW Team USA Bobsled, Nest thermostat and many others.
The Bachelor of Design B.Des. in Products, Communications, or Environments is provided at undergraduate level while graduates degrees include: Master of Product Development, Master of Design in Design for Interactions, Master of Arts in Design, Master of Integrated Innovation for Products & Services.
#4. California College of the Arts, USA
The California College of the Arts main base is in the Bay with campuses in San Francisco and Oakland. Also known as CCA, it is considered as one of the best Industrial Design schools in the world and is famous for its experimental and multidisciplinary approach.
The West Coast school has close relations to industry in America’s venture-capitalist mecca, and has regularly graduated Industrial Design ‘rock stars’ whose work draws international recognition. At CCA, students are offered a B.F.A. Industrial Design, a M.F.A. Design, and a M.B.A. Design Strategy.
The undergraduate B.F.A. Industrial Design has a balance of theoretical and practical education with students spending considerable time in design studios and workshops after acquiring the core concepts in design in the first year. The degree also includes liberal arts, humanities and science requirements (science/math at 200 level).
CCA alumni : Roxanne Lo, BFA Industrial Design 1999, partner and industrial designer at Ibis Cycles.
Central Saint Martins is one of the six Colleges that make up University of the Arts London ‘UAL’. The College offers a 3 year full time Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Product Design within the school’s Product, Ceramic & Industrial Design program headed by Nick Rhodes. The department of product design emphasizes design that provides solutions to meet the needs of real people. The program is recognized for its creative and intellectual rigor and for providing students with the theoretical and practical skills needed to succeed in professional practice.
Academic staff and alumni have been associated with revolutionary product design since 1947; some examples include the world’s first production laptop, the Apple iPhone, and the original London bus.
The College provides a number of great reasons to apply including the possibility to undertake projects in association with industrial and social organizations which have included DESIS, Heinz, P&G, Nokia, Unilever, Samsonite and Diageo.
The College boasts producing more Royal Designers for Industry than any undergraduate course in the world. Students benefit from a multi-disciplinary ‘art school’ environment made up from a diverse community of creatives.
Make a Value by UAL student Ryan Jongwoo Choi
EU / UK students: £9,000 per year
International students: £15,950 per year
#6. Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Design, China
Hong Kong Polytechnic University : Zaha Hadid
This Asian institute is highly valued for the advanced industrial design concepts imparted here with acuity. Global students are known to complete a design program in order to gain that international exposure that they look forward to get.
#7. Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, USA
Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design is well known for its multi disciplinary philosophy which produces ready to create graduates. Despite the expensive tuition fee, the experience in this West Coast College is worth it according to reviews DSH has received from students. Some would even refer to it as ‘the Harvard of design schools,’ even though the Ivy League is far more stringent in student admission.
Art and design schools aren’t usually included in typical undergraduate rankings however the school has been recognized by a number of leading publications and DesignIntelligence ranks the undergraduate Industrial Design program at #1.
Art Center has also earned its recognition by the United Nations, a heritage reflected in its motto: ‘Influence Change,’ due to its history of humanitarian involvement. The Southern California school provides a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Product Design and three Masters of Science (M.S.) in Industrial Design, Environmental Design, and Transportation Design.
Pen Tao Yu
Student Peng Tao Yu produced an innovative proposal for an emergency response vehicle which is formed by adding a conversion kits to an ordinary rental truck providing emergency response vehicles in a fraction of the time and cost. The Red Cross is currently putting the idea into action and the Pasadena Art Center and Peng Tao were both awarded the certificate of appreciation from the American Red Cross.
#8. Savannah College of Art and Design ‘SCAD’, USA
Gulfstream ID Workshop SCAD
Savannah College of Art and Design ‘SCAD’ has one of the best equipped schools of industrial design in the world as well as internationally acclaimed teaching staff.
SCAD offers a Bachelors in Fine Arts, B.F.A. Industrial Design as well as M.A. and M.F.A. Industrial Design. The undergraduate BFA program at SCAD starts with foundation studies and general education designed to develop critical thinking and communication skills.
Advanced design standards are maintained at this college that is known for having educated celebrated designers such as Kate Aronowitz who designed creative aspects of Facebook. Faculty members are drawn from the ranks of top industrial design professionals, who in total have more than 100 international patents between them and have more than $50 billion in sales from the products they have designed.
#9. RMIT, Melbourne, Australia
#10. Pratt Institute, USA
Students at Pratt will undertake a rigorous and creatively challenging industrial design program, based largely in studio environments in order to promote collaborative learning, conceptualization and fabrication. The Pratt ID program involves technical rigor, creativity in context, regarding the end purpose of products and the business and human requirements to be considered. The program ensures graduates can flourish in the dynamic and diverse nature of the industrial design profession.
Students of Pratt’s 4 year Bachelor of Industrial Design – B.I.D. graduate with high competence in transforming their design ideas into 2 and 3D form implementing aesthetics, critical thinking, and analog and digital tools.
Pratt students are taught core knowledge of the design process based on current professional best practice. Students learn individually and in teams to conceptualize, refine, prototype and present, contemporary design thinking in the form of superior products.
Knowledge of materials and methods of manufacture are core to the curriculum with principles of sustainability, ethics, and the global consequences of mass product manufacture. Graduates will understand needs of end users in regard to interface, ergonomics, social and commercial standpoints.
Being a design school, Pratt is well equipped both in terms of industrial design facilities and broader design resources including two wood shops, metal shop, rapid prototyping lab, photography and computer labs with the latest in hardware and design software.