I’m currently an undergraduate neuroscience major, working in a research lab part-time. I’m tentatively planning on applying to medical school, however, I’ve harbored a strong interest in furniture design for years, and want to explore this passion further. Does anyone have any suggestions on gaining exposure to a design career without pursuing a design degree? I hope to take a year or two off between the completion of my undergrad degree and graduate school.
You might want to take some time off and have a look at a different path for your life. If you can
afford the time find a local cabinet maker (qualified woodworker) and get some kind of
Afterwards you’ll either have flushed that furniture maker idea out of your system or the
world has lost an aspiring neurosurgeon.
I’d like to point out though, that I know many medical doctors, who do high class manual
labor for recreation (sculpture, classic car restauration, boat building), but I never met a
designer who did neuroscience as a hobby…
You will make a lot more money cutting open people’s heads than you will designing a coffee table, but I understand your passion for furniture, since we have that in common.
I was able to become an industrial designer without going to school for it, but it happened as a natural progression from graphic design and art directing, and it took years of hard work and SELF-education. If you want to start designing furniture, start it as a hobby and keep pushing it forward until it becomes a career (if that is what you want). Here are a few suggestions that will help:
Practice the ID method of sketching. It is based on perspective drawing with an emphasis on line weight, among other things. Check out idsketching.com
Learn one of the better CAD programs. Rhino will be cheaper, Solidworks, Pro/Engineer or Alias will be better. This will help a lot when it comes to making templates for wood or metal pieces, and will help you work out a design BEFORE spending lots of money on materials or spending too much time trying to “wing it” without a blueprint.
YOUTUBE!!! I have learned countless tricks and techniques by watching someone else do it on youtube. You can find everything short of brain surgery (which you have covered anyway) and best of all it’s FREE!!!
I’ve signed up for an upholstery class here in Chicago recently so I will know my way around an industrial sewing machine. Any skill that you need can be taught to you by someone if you seek them out. I’ve come to learn in my 38 years that there are two types of people, DOers and TALKers. If you actually DO something furniture related every day you will achieve quite a lot in a short amount of time.