Graduate Furniture Design or ID programs for me

Hey Guys!

I graduated with my BFA in painting and have been working in maker spaces for about 3 years now. Now I have an incredible range of skills but not a ton of direction. My main interest is furniture, mostly wood with metal/machined parts. I have a strong portfolio that I think would get me in to a great furniture design program, however I feel like I want a more traditional ID education.

My concerns are that a lot of the big furniture MFA programs (RISD, Pratt, Art Center) focus on the art side of things. My ideal situation would be a graduate ID program where I can focus on furniture or a furniture design program that is focused on furniture for production. I want to avoid one-off custom furniture pieces.

My portfolio reflects the direction I want to move but I’m not sure a traditional ID program would like it. When I look at other ID portfolios I see a lot of writing on human interaction, purpose, analysis of why the current solution is no good. When looking at my work it’s about simple forms combined in complex/contemporary ways, ease of production, and function.

I’m looking for advice on graduate programs, and advice on if I should steer my portfolio in another direction?


Modern Man wonders who you have spoken with at Art Center because you are mistaken or have been mislead on a few key points. Art Center’s Grad Environmental Design - furniture and fixtures track is a MS program, not a MFA. It’s also not on the art side; in fact it’s geared toward production. Furthermore, though it’s not part of the general Grad ID program, it is considered as an ID program just as Grad Transportation Design is also a specialized ID type program.

Contact David Mocarski.

Thanks for this! I admittedly overlooked environmental design because I initially looked looked at student work and was not intrigued and most of them for the spatial experience track. So I figured it was more of an interior design thing. I love it being an MS, pick between 2 year and 3 year path, and its in a city I’d like to stay in.

Buyer be ware. Modern Man won’t sell you anything; he’s simply sharing what he knows. He would recommend that you continue your in-depth search/research into what you are seeking. Are you sure you understand exactly how the program at Pratt is?

Go into this with your eyes wide open. Press for firm answers and commitments. He wonders whether design programs outside of the US are a considered option. . . Royal College of Art?

It’s true that the ACCD grad ENV student body tends to split between the two tracks approximately 60% spatial/40% furniture & fixture. Talk to as many furniture and fixture track faculty as you can. Tell them what you want and press them on how the program will work for you. For what you would pay to go to ACCD and do it right, you should expect that those people will make themselves available to you, prepared to satisfy your questions. Keep in mind, that no matter where you go, it is much about what you make of it. Don’t look at other student’s work as a gauge. There will always be students around you who range from weak to middling to great. Push to rise to your own potential level and expectations.

Also may want to look at UIC/ University of Illinois Chicago just tossing out the suggestion (Even though I am recent grad, with many opinions on the program :wink: ) Pretty much all the faculty have there own furniture line and furniture or object driven studios. All are young, extremely experienced and successful. So it may be a good option to learn from some very top notch relevant designers. Also Chicago has a very big furniture/ maker community.

Contact either Sung Jang, or Felicia Ferrone

Another option to look at for this may be Cranbrook in Michigan

This is true. My, how UIC ID faculty and program has changed over the last decade! And a LOT cheaper than ACCD, if you can stand the weather. :wink:

P.S. Are they still using/teaching MicroStation 3D over there at UIC ID?

If they are, don’t give them a dime; that’s just shameful - it always was.

MinuteMan no Microstation 3D these days, they seem to have caught up to the times finally :slight_smile: As long as the faculty sticks around the program has amazing potential

This is all great guys! European schools are an option. Is there a significant difference between how european schools are run vs. american?

And any recommendations of schools that aren’t private art and design schools?

I studied both in the US (Undergrad at Parsons) and in Europe (MFA at Konstfack/Stockholm) and my experiences were very different.

My impression was that american schools put a lot of effort into directing, controlling and steering students with a workload that walked the fine line between rigorous and ridiculous.
In Sweden, I felt that students had a lot more time to develop and reflect, also on undergrad level.
This of course means that students have to have a strong work ethic and need to be motivated, self-directed and focused.
Students are different and different structures appeal to different personalities.

One reason might be that students in the US are being pushed into college at a very early age, what creates the need for a lot more babysitting, while it is not uncommon in Europe for students to take time off after highschool and then enter college with a clear mind and objective.

These are of course my personal experiences from these two schools so take them for what they are worth.

At Art Center that’s reserved for multitasking with toilet and shower time. :wink: