Best School For Table Top Design + Questions about FIT


Long version:
I’ve searched the forum for table top and housewares design but I couldn’t find any posts specifically dealing with this subject. Surely, there are a lot of people interested in housewares and table top design so hopefully answers to this post can help them out as well. My main interest in ID is table top design. I don’t mind whether it’s mass market as long as it’s ID in that field. I certainly don’t have a problem with being exposed to other design fields, as it would aid in me being more well rounded, but I want to spend most of my time working on table top design in school as opposed to transportation, general product design, exhibit, etc. That was why I was very excited to see the Fashion Institute of Technology’s program on home products development. However, my concern is that the program is not in the school of art and design. The website says that alums go on to become product designers but I wonder if I would be better off going to a school for ID. I know that Pratt has a concentration in table top design but it seems a lot less developed (viewed the course catalog) than the other concentrations. Then again, I wonder whether I should just go to an art school and focus on ceramics (tea pots, cups, glasses) and metalworking (cutlery, etc) instead. I know of several people who have gone to art school and ended up in ID without a master’s in the field.

Short version:
So, my questions are:

  1. Are there any ID schools that are great for table top/housewares design and let a student focus heavily on those fields as opposed to being general? If not, which schools come the closest?

  2. FIT has a degree in home products development. Would it be better to go there or to a school in ID?

  3. Even though I have no problem with mass market table top, how would it be to go to art school instead and study ceramics and metalworking as a means to get into taple top and housewares?

Lastly, I know there may be some people who will say that I’ll be able to get a good foundation in table top by going to a general ID school, which is completely true. (Plus, I may end having to do so if no school fits my needs.) However, I asked the above questions because I want to go to the school that will be the most fun for me. :laughing:

My first question is…Why Table Top design? You have already limited yourself to a very small part of the design field. Going this route and not opening up to other areas will pigeonhole you into one field. I think if you get an ID degree you will have a back-up plan should your initial plan not work out. It will also teach you better fundamentals in Material and manufacturing, Design fundamentals, Research, etc… By going somewhere like FIT (I have quite a bit of experience with them) you will learn good style and aesthetic skills, but the “how it’s made” skills will be lacking. I am not saying that FIT is a bad school, it’s not, it is just built off of a fashion platform that teaches style first, then practicality. My advice would be to get into a good ID program, learn all you can about metals and ceramics, and come out of school with a kick ass flatware portfolio, some good research and trend skills, and skills you can use other places.

Thanks for your reply! I can certainly say I wasn’t not expecting such a reply. :slight_smile: I agree that a good portfolio can get you into many doors. For example, illustrators and graphic designers can often cross over easily if they have exceptional portfolios. But, I’m hoping someone can answer my questions. I’d just like to know my options.

I’m interested in table top design because I want to design home products. Tea pots, cutlery, faucets, pillows, etc. I don’t mind general product design and I’d do it to get myself established. However, it’s not something I’d want to do my whole career. I’d also be happy to do furniture design but thankfully the topic of good schools for that has been covered.

Though they are larger compared to table top design, there are other niche/smaller nongeneral fields that people can specialize in such as transportation, exhibit/POP, and packaging. And, in regards to “nicheness” table top design is no different than furniture design, another popular specialization on this board. Then there are those who study interior or fashion design which are very cutthroat. ID is very cutthroat, of course, too. Then again, there are also people who get a BA in philosophy or art history with no intentions of graduate school. The same reason they choose that path is the same reason I want to study table top: passion. If practicality was what I was concerned with, I’d study engineering. :laughing:

Also, another reason I created this thread was to help others interested in studying table top design. There is nothing on this board about schools and table top design so, hopefully people will be able to provide information for others to use so they can make more informed decisions. Another post, that I can anticipate is someone saying that specializations like table top depend on the student body and to contact the schools. I agree that that is very good advice. However, hopefully this thread can give other people interested in this a starting point and be a useful resource on this board. If not, it was a noble effort!

To be frank, all of us have designed kettles, glasses, Salt and Pepper shakers, and all the other stuff you have mentioned, in our ID education. Hell I even have a salt and pepper shaker in my portfolio. I think that you wanting to design flatware, glasses, plates, etc… is great, but I think you missed my point. Studying ID will give you the knowledge you need to design that and more. Say that you don’t mind design products, but don’t want to do your entire career, does not make sense. Table top design is a product and the process needed to design these items is the same process need to design a well designed cell phone. Going to a school that only focuses on Table Top design, not only limits you to this, but I would imagine that even the major companies in the industry do not know this degree exists and would look at the degree rather strangely. I am very weary of very specialized fields.


Yes, I understand that I can learn table top principles by studying general ID. That is why it’s called general; you learn a little bit of everything. I don’t want to study solely table top; the degree indeed doesn’t exist. I would like a general ID program where there are extra classes in table top. Are you similarly against people studying furniture, packaging, and exhibit design instead of general ID? It is also true that the principles of good ID for table top design are also the principles for good ID in general. However, there are a lot of people who hate POP design because that isn’t what they got into ID to do. There are other people who spend years or even their whole career trying to get into footwear ID because they’re not happy making printers or cell phones. ID may be ID but that doesn’t mean that all kinds of ID are fun or fulfilling for all people.

Personally, I love tabletop design. And it is always in demand. RISD used to have some classes in conjunction with Dansk, and PEter Diepenbrock, who designs for Umbra and a bunch of other table top companies, used to teach there as well… I’m not sure if they are doing anything in that area now. I think NYC would be a great city to study design for table top because there are so many firms, companies, and licensing groups that specialize in it… and you can go to the NY gift show easily and show your work.

I agree. My only point is to study ID and take classes in Table Top, so you get a more well rounded education.

I also think new students have it in their head what they want to design already, but a year or two into the program that can change. How many students enter their program wanting to be car designers? How many leave wanting to?

This is my point. We all have said I want to be a _________ when I grow up. Think of it as an education that teaches you the skills to be a designer. What you do with those skill then is your choice.

Wow!..Thats exactly what i was looking for…im definitely interested in something similar…have a graduate degree in product design. But ya I definitely agree that studying product design at the graduate level really did help me have a more rounded approach and yes you get to explore avenues…well i certainly started off as an interior design student but was blown away by product design and always felt an overgrowing interest in interaction design…but yes, tabletop design remains my love too…i’m looking for an ma school…in india we do have a course in one of the college NID called lifestyle product design but i’m plan to look further and wouldn’t mind doing a masters in product design…Do tell me if you have any suggestion for a post graduate school.