Anyone go to Kendall or Auburn?

Hey guys!

Basically I’ve earned an A.A. at a community college and I’m taking some art classes to help me develop a portfolio and get into the right mindset.

(… and yes, I realize UC DAAP is amazing)

My passion is furniture design, but I have heard that it might be safer not to paint myself into a corner and get an ID degree instead of a furniture design degree.

I am seriously considering the Kendall furniture design program (no portfolio review and looks like a bunch of my credits should transfer). It seems to be in the furniture design mecca so tons of internships opportunities should be possible. Anyone go here? What’s it like?

My other top contender is the Auburn ID program. Anyone go here? What’s the deal with that summer ID program? Trying to get an idea how selective it is to gain entrance into the actual bachelor program. Also, what kind of internship opportunities can be found in the area?

Sorry for the long-winded post!

my advice is to visit both campuses, and meet with a professor or two from each department.

kendall’s furniture department is the only one of it’s kind that i am aware of. nearly any other school that offers a degree in furniture design, is going to be about “studio” “one-off” furniture. kendall teaches “mass-produced, traditional, residential furniture.” kcad does have opportunities (classes) in which you will design contemporary furnishings, but the program teaches you all you will need to know about “period-replication” for mass production; think queen anne, federal, duncan phyfe, biedermeier, louis xiv, arts and crafts, etc. i transferred to kendall from another school in which i was pursuing a degree in ID. others told me that i should be more broad in my degree, but i enjoy specializing in one thing so i didn’t listen. also, a “salary” is only a small fraction of why i’m doing this. there are furniture designers on here who earn a very excellent living so it is possible to do what you love and make good money.

there are internships available, however students typically find most of them on their own. some of those opportunities have been quite prestigious, including working for vladimir kagan and viscount linley.

another thing, is that this program is more about “stylising” rather than “problem-solving”. there is no “industrial design sketching” except in the foundation year. it is QUITE different than I.D. though there is an ID department here also. Some kids major in furniture and minor in ID or vice versa. i have also detected an absolutely strong animosity between the two majors - including among the chairs. pretty sad… considering kendall’s new promotional thing is Collaboration.

the residential furniture industry looks very sad right now from where i stand. the seniors graduating this year seem depressed. but maybe it’s a lot of industries right now with all the layoffs happening and hiring freezes. i hate to think what it’ll be like when i graduate in the coming semesters. remember though, you can get laid off, but no one can take away your degree and skills.

in my opinion, kendall is a darn good school for those who want to live in a great little city to concentrate on learning their craft. by Jan 1, we already got 50" of the white stuff, so you better like snow. :slight_smile: PM me if you have more questions.

Thanks so much for your take on Kendall!

Hmmm. I’m glad you brought this up. I am more focused on the whole mid-century modern feel. The kind of designs I’ve been coming up with would feel more at home at DWR… Sounds like the opportunity to work on that kind of stuff would be limited as far as class time goes.

I’m PMing you now!


Anyone have any information about Auburn?

I’m a senior in my last semester at Auburn in ID and he’s a rundown of what you can expect.

In my opinion the program is great. I started out as a freshman there right out of high school and didn’t do the summer program until the summer after that.

The summer program is called Summer Op. or Summer Option even though you have to complete it in order to get into the major. Your summer will consist of 3 different phases. 1) Technical drawing: you will learn all your basics on this with orthographics and dimentions all using pencils and your drafting tools. 2) Perspective drawing where you learn the basics of drawing in perspective also done with all tools. 3) you’ll learn to render using markers, colored pencils and stuff.

The summer is very intense and expect to pull plenty of all nighters during your summer. As far as getting through the summer and getting into the program you usually have to stay away from the bottom of the pack. Most of the people that will not make it through the program will not make it through the summer which is why they do this. Good things about the summer though, you’ll be in a room all day with the same people so you will make some good friends that you’ll have through your whole college experience if you stay with the program and those will also serve as connections later in your professional life.

2nd year will be 2D into 3D design principles along with sketch classes and basic adobe programs(photoshop, illustrator, ect)

3rd year will be more into product and brand name design where you’ll dip a bit into logo’s and branding while still coming up with products and model making for your designs. You’ll also learn some 3D modeling software and rendering programs. Some studios are sponsored where you’ll get to work with a company that’s looking for new designs or you could be in an open studio where the curriculum is probably decided by your professor. The sponsored studios can be very fun and helpful for real world experience if you want to call it that and can also open up doors for internships with that company. Last spring my studio was sponsored by Dell and 2 students were offered internships with them.

4th year is where its at. You’ll do all product design(whatever products you man choose or be assigned to do by your teachers) in studios that may or may not be sponsored.

A professor named Tin-Man Lau has been teaching 4th year studios for a very long time and does a furniture studio in the fall for people who want to do this. It’s an open studio(non-sponsored) where students come up with their own designs and have to build them full scale by the end of the semester.

All and all I think that the program here is great and I would recommend it to anyone. Auburn also offers a Masters program that is very good as well and I think is rated around top 3 in the country but I could be wrong. If your a strong sketcher, problem solver, and can recognize good shape and form you will do great in this program.

If I were you I would visit the campus and take a tour around the building and talk with some of the professors about what exactly you can expect to leave here with.

Thanks for chiming in, G_Rod! Good luck this semester!

The Auburn program sounds very interesting. I submitted my application and when it gets closer to making my decision I will definitely be visiting some campuses!

I wonder how many students that attempt the summer op each year actually make it into the ID program… anyone have a ratio??? Is there a large group of students competing for a limited amount of spots?

There are a limited number to spots to get into the program but as far as getting a ratio it would be pretty hard to do because it depends on how many students try and complete the summer op. program. Usually this number can be anywhere from 70-110 students that start the summer program but that number will quickly get lower as the summer goes on.

I think there are about 60 slots that open to get into your 1st actual year of the program(called 2nd year bc this will most likely be your 2nd year in school) and about 50-55 get into their 3rd year. After 3rd year there are no more cuts.

If your putting forth effort and like what your doing you will be fine for getting into the program.

Thanks! That gives me a rough idea!!!

i graduated from kendall pre-merger. i transferred in from architecture. my major was in industrial design, but i took some furniture design classes. both departments when i went there were pretty close and shared the same floor.

most of my classmates i knew, including some that graduated before me are in furniture or home furnishings in some way. kendall grads (industrial designers) stocka lot of the design departments at haworth and steelcase and their divisions.

I just graduated with a Bachelor’s in Industrial Design from Auburn University. There is only one furniture Design studio. It is taught by Tin-Man Lau during Senior Year.

Auburn has a very diverse curriculum. They stress design management throughout your college career and the projects seem to be strictly generated for industry. Everything you do must have a reason other than “it looks nice.”
Examples of sponsored projects;
-Marine Corp Tents
-Playground equiptment
-portable generators
-pet heart monitors
-Hospital redesign
-wet/dry vacs
-ceiling fans
-Museum/Exhibit Design
-Construction equipment
-Doc Martin Boots
-Dell Laptops
-Vacuum Attachments

Non Sponsored projects;
-Assistive Living Technology
-“Open” Studio

when i went to kendall, this was the list of sponsored projects ('96-99):

hospital guerney - stryker medical
convergent technology TV - panasonic
recyclable office - haworth
toy design - local design firm

i know since then, other local companies in the grand rapids, mi area have sponsored projects like bissel, johnson controls (automotive interiors), treadstone (steelcase), tiara yachts/S2, etc.

like midwestky said, the furniture program at kendall is more geared towrds the craftmanship of furniture. their program is highly recruited annually.

the industrial design program i felt was more about establishing your process, time management, good fundamental research and thorough completion of task. sort of rock-solid skills to build a career around. the furniture designers from this program usually do contract furniture, if so inclined.

the divide between these programs is shocking to me. when i attended, we were pretty close, but the school was a lot smaller than it is today.

Wow! So, both schools seem to have pretty great relationships with some fantastic companies/sponsors.

When it gets time to make a decision about what program I should join, all of this information is certainly going to be a big help!

Looks like it’s going to be a difficult decision… I’m sure I’ll be fine whatever direction I end up going into…

Alerick and Kung Fu Jesus, thanks so much for telling me a little about the programs! :smiley:

i believe tom edwards is still the ID chair at KCAD. a very smart man. he has been designing contract furniture for years and was the last design director at herman miller in the 80’s/early 90’s.