MID Mission

MID Mission


The RISD MID program is about building a bridge between your past practices and your future place in the broad discipline of industrial design.  This multidisciplinary connection is what makes MID Graduates extremely sought after by the ID discipline. The ability to think and communicate across disciplines gives our graduates unique qualifications to tackle interesting challenges in a complex world.

We are a broad community. The program is founded on a studio-based dialogue exploring ID in a cohort consisting of people with backgrounds such as architecture, sculpture, anthropology, film-making, set design, engineering, and science from all over the world. Our community in turn enriches its members by exposing them to a wide variety of approaches and points of view. You will learn from your colleagues as well as the faculty.

In the studio, the workshop, and the field, we explore design thinking and design practices through research, making, investigation and debate. Each graduate is expected to use their time in the program to expand their skill sets and develop their own design process which is ultimately expressed in the MID Thesis project.

The MID Experience

To support all our values, the MID program, RISD, and Brown have expansive modular structures that allow individuals from diverse backgrounds to create their own experience. The basic structure consists of: a core of Graduate level making, seminar and communication courses along with a choice of Advanced Studio and Elective courses at both Undergraduate and Graduate level. Students are able to take classes in the ID department, other RISD departments, and Brown University. The MID experience concludes with the self-directed yearlong Graduate Thesis course.

RISD MID believes:

that Design is a Research Driven Process
in Working with People
that Design is a Logical Narrative
in Making to Advance Thinking
that Design is 99% Communication and Audience
in Designers as Leaders


Design as a Research Driven Process

Designers need to develop their own process, and our program introduces students to several adaptable examples to explore. These include numerous distinct methods for research, ideation, synthesis, making, validation, communication and professionalism. Fundamental aspects exhibited throughout our process include original innovation, experimental iteration, a studio-based community, making, communication and self-direction.

Working with People

Projects are better when they involve real people. Talking to participants forces designers to communicate complex ideas clearly and simply and allows people to contribute suggestions, ideas and criticism in return. Projects become more credible when they have engaged with people ‘outside the bubble’. Working with people is the fastest way to get to an innovative idea.

Design is a Logical Narrative

There is no such thing as an object or idea that speaks for itself. The process of creation is messy and complicated with many false starts and dead ends. But the final outcome of a design process does not appear through magic or intuition. It is grounded in observations from primary and secondary research, analysed and synthesized through a designer’s judgement. The end result is digested and explained through persuasive documentation that links prototypes and experiments to the final outcome.

Making to Advance Thinking

MID making fundamentally takes the form of handmade, rapid iterative prototyping, but we are also involved in advanced making techniques enabled by state of the art tools and software. Making is important because it quickly informs your process by advancing a tangible understanding through validation. This is particularly evident when making is used as part of the research, ideation, and communication processes. We make to think, to test, and to learn.

Design is 99% Communication and Audiences

Industrial Design is an exciting focus because it is a broad, complex and ever evolving discipline of many audiences. Developing successful projects requires MID students to identify, understand and engage several of these audiences. These include research and project participants, studio peers, media-commentators and—importantly—potential employers. Different audiences respond to different forms of communication. Working out what to say and how to say it is a crucial part of creating successful work.

Designers as Leaders

MID and ID in general has a challenging (inherently ‘political’) yet optimistic culture that questions the state of things, then does something about it. MID students use the strength of their engaging processes and ideas to lead their audiences to a better way. Our program supports and encourages the development of successful ‘leading’ through its open structure of many electives and the final Thesis year. Our students are empowered to run workshops and credit-bearing classes to test and share their ideas and methods with peers and the wider RISD community.