Design is Expanding

The industrial in industrial design once stood for the design of goods to be produced by industry. No longer narrowly focused on the creation of industrial goods, industrial design at RISD looks at the systems of production, distribution, and consumption that shape contemporary life.

Global supply chains and telecommunications force businesses to think of themselves as planetary enterprises. Digital technologies confuse the line between objects and information, creating more intimate connections between our physical and virtual experiences. Small organizations and individuals have access to the means of production, the funding sources, and the public's that were once the province of large enterprises. Technological advances are contributing to the radical rethinking of how value is created for businesses, people and organizations.

To remain competitive in this shifting landscape, organizations need to see beyond their traditional roles and expectations. The best way to prepare for an expanded discipline is through an expanded education.

Tomorrow’s designers do not benefit from narrow professional training but from learning how to be critical thinkers and critical makers –  to think with their hands, to learn by making, and to lead by ideas. To enable our students to learn, think and lead we use material making and material design to gain experience in design processes; we explore how to apply those processes to the development of products, services, systems and strategies; and we gain mastery in the tools needed to craft not just artifacts, but experiences, platforms and systems.

Across our graduate and undergraduate programs, we teach our students the skills, habits of mind, and approaches that they need to flourish in our complex world.