Where's a good place to go for a Masters in I.D.(furniture)?

hello all,
i have a bfa in advertising design and i’m looking into getting a masters in i.d. i’m most interested in furniture design. what schools should i look into? i’m not tied to any specific location, so i’m considering schools in the u.s., argentina, italy and anywhere else that’s good.
i feel a little lost with all the options. all suggestions and/or comments will be greatly appreciated.
thank you soooo much![/b]

try risd. or scad. both have furniture design master’s.

in pratt you can only take a few courses in furniture - usually they have a general ID education.

the school of hard knocks has a good program

art institute of chicago designed objects program.

The furniture program and facilities at RISD are supposed to be pretty top notch.

keep in mind the furniture programs at RISD are “art + crafts” based, that being: handmade objects to be sold in galleries. No training in Manufacturing, Ergonomics etc. In the ID masters, you could emphasise what you’d like to work on.

To be honest, unless you want to become a profeesor, a bachelors will serve you better, you’ll have a much larger pool of schools to choose from and have better training for your new career. look, you’ll have to do 3 years either way.

Kendall College of Art and Design has the reputation for being a superior furniture design school. I’ve seen many very good portfolios out of there. The internal architecture program at Kansas State - I’ve heard that #2 and Cornell is #1

I think what would help in picking a graduate program would be to try envisioning what you’d like to be doing after you graduate. Would you like to find a design job, start your own company, teach? Would you like to build your own work or design for someone else, or something in between? Residential or office furniture, etc?

Here’s a plug for RISD: although students do build their own work while in school, the program is very open-ended, and you can focus on whatever area of furniture interests you. When I was a student there I designed a number of pieces for production, one of which was picked up by a manufacturer These days I am self-employed and split my time between building my own work, designing for industry, and teaching. Like me, many students go on to start their own businesses. I have never been interested in working in a corporate environment, although I did do so for a few years earlier on.

Also, remember that a graduate program is by definition a more self-directed program of study than a bachelor’s - while you can and will take skill/knowledge-based courses, what you learn is more up to you, and you will have a truly unbelievable amount of resources at your very doorstep.

Finally, while you may or may not wish to ultimately build your own work, by spending two years making furniture (either the traditional way or jobbing things out and putting together your own prototypes), you will come out on the other end with a thorough understanding of a variety of materials and how they are processed, which is something that many designers today lack.

The Furniture Society is an organization of makers - mostly one-off craftish, but some production work. Their web site has information on furniture programs and forums for students.


Really depends on what you want to do, but as a shopist, I really admire SCAD’s facilities. They are also probably one of the more production oriented programs as well.

good luck

Uof MN
College of Design (coming soon)

It was mentioned earlier about SCAD…

I would not suggest you attend this institution, or at least seriously look into their curriculum. I have a couple of friends say that the education they received there does not justify the cost.

In general, most of the graduate/furniture design programs in the US are craft based-studio focused.

I recently completed an MFA/furniture design degree. I researched and applied to 5 schools: San Diego State, RISD, SCAD, Minneapolis College of Art and Design and RIT’s School for American Craft. Got accepted to 3, ultimately the decision came down to the amount of scholarships that were offered. My undergrad was in ID. The grad program I chose was certainly rewarding in totally new ways, was not very ID influenced. I now regret not looking into Cranbrook and Pratt. Two very influential instructors who’s work I admire and respect attended Cranbrook.

Consider these issues/questions as you research schools and assess your skills:

  1. How handy/crafty are you? The more fabrication skills you have prior to entering a program the better. In the course of your studies you’ll have to build prototypes. A good understanding through hands on learning of how furniture is made and produced with inform your process. Certainly school is a place to experiment and learn, but grad school will go by very quickly and the more you can hit the ground running the better.

  2. How do you see yourself after grad school? As an industrial designer focused on furniture? As a studio furniture maker? These are not mutually exclusive identities, there is overlap. Discoveries made in a studio furniture setting can be the incubator from which small production pieces can emerge.

What other schools outside of the US have you started looking into? I’d be curious to hear about your research.

SCAD was one of the schools I was accepted to. My interest there was their CNC capabilities. I understand its a large program(12-18 grad students in furniture alone!) I’ve heard so little from actual graduates from the program, just second hand reports from friends who attended.

This may be outside the scope of your original post, but 2 pieces of advice that were shared to me during school may help you in your future plans:

Art is the HOW and Design is WHAT. In other words, open exploration of materials and form will yield new discoveries that can be devloped and refined into viable products.

Artist vs. Designer. Yes, this is a generalization but still a usefull comparsion: The Artist goes to the studio even when there is no work to do. The Designer doesn’t go to the studio unless there is work to do.

Yes, I digressed a little.

Good luck on your search!