seeking furniture design prgrm w/the art school 'experience'

Hello all,
I’m 29, American and currently own/run a business dealing in antiques and 20th century design.
for more than half a decade now i’ve been considering the idea of design school (I have a MA in History of Art). I have a special interest in furniture design/construction and experimenting/working with a wide variety of materials (both modern and traditional), but unlike other prospective students whose main impetus for attending a certain college may be to get a great internship/job/etc, my driving force for wanting to go back to school is for the overall art/design school ‘experience’ (social + academic). the school I choose needs to offer more than just a great academic program. I want to have FUN (not beer blasts fun, but a wide range of activities and other social gatherings beyond the classroom).

Here’s my wishlist:
-school located in Canada, the US or other English speaking country
-tuition/fees/room and board under $20K/yr
-strong furniture design program (which there don’t seem to be to many of)
-wide range of students (young and old, diverse, etc)


here’s a side table lightbox with vintage stained glass that I recently designed

I think there have been a few discussions in the past around the furniture school question, I can’t recall but am willing to guess you’ll have to compromise on at least two of your criteria.
There are a number of smaller schools more in the Art’s + Crafts vein that might be an option. They are very hands-on, skills centric programs, but may have the diverse experience your looking for and be great for the one-off work you seem to prefer.

Rochester Institute of Technology has pretty big furniture design program (School for the American Crafts). I believe it was strongly influenced by Wendell Castle. They are definitely leaning more towards the craft of furniture as it is primarily woodworking major.

Albeit a ‘tech’ school with a lot of engineering people the art school is pretty big and has a clear presence on the campus.

RISD has a program you might want to check out, but it is more expensive than your budget.

Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD) is located in what used to be known as “furniture city” grand rapids. They’ve got a VERY good furniture program, with many many connections within the wooden furniture industry…I don’t remember specifically, but I think I remember their department chair saying they had a job placement rate of something in the 90’s. It’s a little high in price…but I think cost of attendance is somewhere around 25k a year (including living expenses).

Edit: the number I pulled for KCAD was what the estimated cost of attending is, in actuality I ended up around 18k a year, plus a summer job (that’s with taking out enough to pay rent and food during the fall and spring semesters, at on average 15 credits a semester)

also,
MCAD - Minneapolis College of Art and Design
SCAD - Savannah C A&D
Cranbrook is more of a self study school and a graduate one
San Diego state U
Massachusetts C A&D - saw a certification course, not sure of degree course

Any Art & Design school is going to have more private school level fees.

RISD for sure, although as Yo mentioned, it is out of your budget. :frowning:

But I think you would find many of the experiences there that you are looking for - wide student age range, many different departments/disciplines, opportunity to work in many different materials - definitely an art school experience. And the museum has an amazing collection of antique furniture. Providence is a great town, and the proximity of Brown and several other colleges means there is always lots going on.

Good luck. The cost of school now is completely out of control, IMO.

Second that on Kendall. One of the oldest Furniture Design program in the country. Big percentage working in residential industry are alums, and big contract furniture industry in west Michigan too, like Steelcase, Herman Miller, Haworth, Nucraft, etc. and OEMs. It was like 16k a year (26 credits) last I checked which makes it one of the more affordable ones too.