Advice on Multidisciplinary Design Aspirations

Hi All,

I’d love some input on some of my career aspirations and potential schools. I’m currently working as a Visual Interaction Designer for a fairly large agency that only handles digital and service design. I do a lot of interface, graphic, web, print and experience design. I’m aspiring to continue designing experiences and being an interaction designer for a multidisciplinary agency that encompasses more product and service design as well as greater holistic experiences.

With that said, my experience in ID is close to none. Within the past few months I have gotten into DIY electronics and Arduino experiments, however, I’m realizing I will most likely need to further my education to get to where I want to be.

I’ve been looking at a handful of schools and wanted to get some input on how to further pursue my education. Would it be beneficial to get a degree in ID to better understand the workflow? Or should I look into more multidisciplinary programs like that of IIT or CCA? I also recently found out about the Product of Design MFA at SVA; however, it looks like that requires a pretty solid 3D modeling portfolio, which I don’t have. Is there anything I can do in the meantime to bump up my ID skills prior to applying to some of these programs?

Any input provided would be very much appreciated!

Very little of ID is electronics and programing… do you want to go into product, or technology?

I definitely realize that electronics is a very small component of ID—I just started with the easiest transition since I had some basic knowledge on that front. I’ve been told that my IxD and communication design skills are strong at the moment and that if I wanted to make myself more well-rounded, I should focus on a more solid understanding of ID principles and some basic hardware.

Is it wrong to want to do both? My background is very strongly associated with design and technology, however, aren’t the two becoming more and more related? I’d like to continue designing with technology in mind but be able to do so in relation to products and have a better understanding of product design in order to work more closely with industrial designers and in more of a multidisciplinary environment. I hope this answers your question.

Just some off the top of my head…Get some ID sketching books or go online to and also learn Solidworks. Take apart products and see how they are constructed. Read the book Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman…Watch the movie Objectified…keep asking questions on this forum. :smiley:

Hey there, I’m an Industrial and Interaction design (BFA in ID and additional major in HCI), so I can relate a bit of my experience.

Agree with getting your sketching on through books, videos (fengzhudesign, Scott Robertson…). Solidworks and CAD can come later. Since you already have an Interaction background, I would look into a program that focuses more on ID so you get more of an in-depth look, rather than wasting half your time relearning something you’ve been doing professionally. It may be beneficial to look into a school with both a solid ID and IxD program so you could retain some of that multidisciplinary interest in your education. I think you can make the ties/connections between the two at a solely ID program.

Thanks for the tips! Objectified is really one of my favorites—I own it and watch it on almost a monthly basis; and The Design of Everyday Things is really one of the first things that got me hooked on design. I’m big into sketching, but a lot of it is 2D (seems to be a common theme with me), so I need to change my mindset up a bit.

Really helpful. Good to know there are others that are pursuing this path—do you know of any schools with a solid ID and IxD program on the graduate level? I know RISD has a new 2.5 year grad program for designers with no direct product design experience, so that’s an option I’m looking into on the purely ID front.

Parsons started offering an MFA in Transdisciplinary Design.