How to eventually transition into "abstract" design?

I’m going to be a freshman in college this fall. I’m majoring in Industrial Design, but I don’t think that I want to design physical products forever. I’d eventually like to move into more broad fields like Experience Design and Interaction Design.

Will an undergraduate education in ID cut me off from opportunities like this? Or is there a chance I’ll be able to get work experience in these fields even though my degree will be in traditional product design? I just don’t want to end up stuck.

Don’t worry about pigeonholing yourself. There are TONS of industrial designers that branch out into this stuff. In fact, I’d say the field grew out of industrial design. I have a school acquaintance that became an interaction designer 2 years out of school with only a BFA in industrial design.

Design is a funny thing. It’s kind of a generalist skill that can apply both to tangible and intangible things. Industrial design is actually experience design–the experience of using a tangible man-made thing. It is also interaction design - the way someone interacts with an tangible useful object.

Perhaps you could get a bachelors in Industrial design and some experience, and then go get a masters in a related direction. Once you have some more experience, you’ll have a better idea of the adjacent options and where you might want to go. Plus, your industrial design background will make you more well rounded and give you a more holistic perspective than pure interaction/service designers.

Of course, that is a lot more tuition money to get two degrees. =)

I am in school right now, but I would say that a very good amount of my peers are interested in designing the intangible! Most of them probably have a combination of tangible and non-tangible, but I know of a couple who have gone solely the intangible route (and enjoying it / doing well). It all depends on the school – but there should be enough classes that you can tailor it towards your interests, especially in the later years.

ID graduates have some advantages in service & experience design; design methods, user research, fast illustration, ergonomics, interaction, model making, 3-d modeling, and more are part of the core curriculum

One other thing you see in service design, least with friend’s jobs, are lots of workshops - organizing and setting them up to produce usable goals.

Have you seen this website - It’s got some nicely illustrated examples and maybe you could integrate that kind of workflow into your projects