Do I have what it takes (to apply to design school)?

OK, i’m in a VERY strange position and I really hope that some of you may be able to help. in short, i’m 25 yrs old, i have a MA in History of Art from the U of St Andrews in Scotland, but have always wanted to pursue industrial design/ furniture making. i’ve finally decided to take matters into my own hands and apply this fall to the school i’ve always dreamed about attending, RISD. the problem (well, the first problem) is that I don’t really know if i’m qualified. I know that I’m amazingly creative and inventive and can express my concepts (for furniture, product design, etc) verbally and, in many cases visually with models or something of the sort, but i’m not an amazing artist/ illustrator so my ‘portfolio’ may not be as impressive as less creative/more artistic individuals (to be honest, i still don’t really understand how a portfolio can/ needs to be set up, what should go in, what should be excluded, how things need to be photographed, etc) my second problem is that I’m a poor 25 yr old selling just enough mid century furniture to make a living ( so i’m afraid of the possibility of getting into the school i’ve always dreamed of and then not having the $ to pay for it. I really don’t want to take out student loans, so my only real option (that i know of) is grants and scholarships and i honestly don’t know how many would be available to someone 7 yrs out of high school.
i look forward to your responses!

Nice chairs, but I kinda don’t like how you took your inspiration from them and basically changed the material of the original. (Just my perspective).
To tell you the truth though, I thought that I wasn’t qualified in becoming a designer, but then that’s what you go to school for; To hone your skills. I’m still a student, but my aspirations are way up there after seeing how awesome ID really is. And don’t worry, I’m sure a lot of students are in the same boat as you are (ie. Money for school). Good Luck!


sounds/looks like you would be well suited for their masters degree in furniture design. The furniture program is separate from the ID program there. Last I heard, some furniture is done in the ID program, but with an emphasis on mass production.

I made the switch from web design in Singapore to industrial design in Japan at the age of 26 because I wanted to pursuit my dream of working with motorcycles. I gave up my entire life and all my possessions and threw myself into debt to get me where I am now, in a small japanese firm working on parts and accessories design while also studying at a local design university. I don’t know if I’ll ever make it into the OEMs but we have links with Honda as well as a few custom builders and I really feel that my dream is within reach.

If you want it hard enough, you will do anything to make it happen.

Don’t get discouraged. If you’re passionate about design, then you should be okay. Depending on where you want to end up, sketching and visual presentation may be really important, but it’s possible to get by if you’re not very good at it. Many designers have risen to prominence who can’t sketch. If you want to do furniture in Europe, I think sketching is less important than if you want to product design in the states.

One example is Konstantin Grcic. He can’t sketch. He can’t even visualize things in his head. He just makes lots of little paper models and comes up with amazing stuff.

Good luck!

first of all, thank you all for taking the time to reply!
rawr- i agree that the two chairs i posted aren’t particularly original and i’d llike to stress that they don’t reflect my design abilities. the bertoia chair was done as a ‘green’ exercise, taking something old and beat up and trying to make it into something interesting and desirable. the rietveld was done as a tribute to the two designers i wrote my art history dissertation on, breuer and rietveld, as sort of an amalgam of eachs most famous work (wassily and red/blue). my desire to go to design school is based in my desire to build up the skills necessary to execute the thousands upon thousands of original furniture/product designs i have been sketching for so many yrs!
yo- i would love to do the masters degree problem, but think that as someone with no technical experience in furniture making that i may have to start at the bottom as an undergraduate student, and to be honest i’m pretty ok with that option : )
ah.heng- thank you so much for the inspiring words. i wish you the very best in chasing your dream!
camzaman- thanks for the link!

Yo is right about the seperate ID and furniture department and the few furniture classes offered in ID are junior/senior studios which you take one per semester. If I remember right theres only two offered (chair and ready to assemble furniture - which were the ones offered my junior year and from what I know the year before that as well). As far as scholarships I’d look into it a little further, I was under the impression our school was one of the worst in that field. Either way best of luck in your endeavors :slight_smile: