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RCA Design Products - Whats the deal?

Postby maxthib93 » April 20th, 2016, 3:59 pm


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hello all, this is my first post, but I was wondering if anybody could share some info on RCA London's ID programs like experiences or gossip? I was recently accepted there, SCAD, and SAIC, but I have not been able to find any recent information on their program other than the scant website figures and facts. Nothing on the curriculum either or coursework, and coming from a Mechanical Eng background with no university level design schooling, it has me worried that I'd be in over my head.

I know they used to be quite good, but have since undergone budget cuts and faculty has left, and as such, there doesn't seem to be any recent data on the kind of design they are pushing.

Information or opinions on SCAD and SAIC would also be welcomed. Thanks a bunch. :)

Re: RCA Design Products - Whats the deal?

Postby yo » April 20th, 2016, 5:44 pm

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last I heard it is very abstract thinking focused, so if you have no design background, you won't be getting much of a foundation in employable skills. SAIC in Chicago is similar. Very artsy.

What kind of designer do you want to be when you graduate? IE, if you want to be doing hardcore shipping product (consumer electronics, footwear, housewares) this type of program is probably not the best. If you want to make an art piece and call it a chair, but make it so no one can actually sit on it without breaking it.... carry on. I'm being overly sarcastic to make a point, but I do encourage you to think first about what you want to do when you get out of school and then find the educational path that is going to best facilitate that vs picking a school first.

Re: RCA Design Products - Whats the deal?

Postby maxthib93 » April 20th, 2016, 5:52 pm


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I'd ideally like to have a balanced platform of knowledge that would help me be versatile in the field in the future. Primarily i have an interest in the physical making of things as you listed, but at the same time I would not want to limit myself by choosing a program that is too "classic", or something less future-proof. This is why I haven't limited myself to SCAD; because I get a vibe that appears short-sighted or standard whereas perhaps the other two would provide a learning experience that could be fluid enough to not appear dated.

Re: RCA Design Products - Whats the deal?

Postby yo » April 20th, 2016, 5:55 pm

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People will always need shoes and plates and forks and toothbrushes... they may not always need an art object called a chair you can't actually sit on... in the zombie apocalypse those are the first to go. :-)

Personally, I only hire classically trained designers, and then get them into the ethnographic research and more strategic minded activities as they grow.

Re: RCA Design Products - Whats the deal?

Postby maxthib93 » April 20th, 2016, 6:04 pm


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Good to hear and very true - lol! Thanks for your input!

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RCA is on a tight budget and students are crammed into pretty small spaces from what I saw during my visit several years ago.
Even though they're a bit too much into their own design world, it's a good school from what I have seen.
They have great lecturers, a lot of experimental projects happen allowing you to expand your borders, and you can still end up with very practical results. But yes it will be very different from SCAD.
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Re: RCA Design Products - Whats the deal?

Postby maxthib93 » April 22nd, 2016, 12:00 am


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Yes, this is what I've heard as well. Highly regarded and the graduates are also known to be successful starting brands/consultancies. There is just a general lack of information into the courses actually being taught and there is not much on the curriculum either.. At least compared to the US schools.

Re: RCA Design Products - Whats the deal?

Postby Sketchgrad » April 26th, 2016, 6:34 am


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Being from the UK and getting my design education in London, getting to the RCA was always a hot topic. It was known as "the big guys down the road"

The general vibe is that going to the RCA makes you unemployable meaning you end up starting your own business and becoming a "name". Also, that you will "get out of it what you put in" meaning that if you think you'll be getting hours of sketching, model making and CAD tutoring then forget it. The time with your tutor will be spend debating how out of the box your project is.

You'll either do projects that are more conceptual than actually commercially viable or you will end up creating items of luxury - furniture for example whether they be functional or more of an art sculpture ;)

Re: RCA Design Products - Whats the deal?

Postby yo » April 26th, 2016, 10:52 am

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That said I know a few automotive designers who went there in the 90s and are very very good.... but that was the 90s.

Re: RCA Design Products - Whats the deal?

Postby slippyfish » April 26th, 2016, 7:05 pm

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If I was a trustafarian and didn't have mouths to feed and bills to pay I'd love to spend two years there or SAIC, meditating on the space between the subject and the object, the nuances of how homo sapiens respond to the manufactured environment, having deep conversations with heavily accented chain smoking eastern European talents.

I know zero people like this, but then again I run in the 'classical design' circles.

Is anything actually BUILT in the UK any longer? Aside from some Formula One cars? Does the removal of the 'hard' facts of product manufacturing lead to schools teaching more of the abstract?
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