Friday, April 27, 2018 | ePaper

Master's in Design Studies

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If you think you need a background in the arts to pursue postgraduate work in design studies, think again.  Both design and non-design undergraduates can pursue design studies after graduation.  In fact, the need is so great for design across so many disciplines, it might serve you well to study a field entirely apart from design, even with a plan to pursue it later in postgraduate studies.   
Form follows function-this applies not only to art and design but to STEM majors, business and marketing majors, and humanities majors.  How?  Let's take a closer look.
1. STEM and Design
STEM and design go hand-in hand.  Design work requires critical thinking and planning to solve complicated, community-based problems. When STEM students consider projects like building a self-propelled vehicle, or designing a sustainable garden ecosystem, they need to draw on their scientific knowledge in addition to their design knowledge.
When Steve Jobs designed the first Macintosh computers, he cared as much about the engineering and programming as he did about the aesthetic and form of the product-that the appearance of the product should match the seamlessness of the math and science behind it-even down to the font.
2. Business and Design
A great business idea isn't going to work without great design.  They go hand-in-hand.  At the center of any business plan is user experience, or UX.  Design helps business students understand how user experience and design interface are related.  Business majors should focus on learning UX principles.  What does this mean?
Make your product data-driven.  Test and tweak your product until your data shows which UX configurations work the best.  This way, users tell you about their experience, and you design based on that.
Practice.  Mockup your design with good old-fashioned paper and pencil.  Design a website, an app, or even a popular product's homepage.  Why?  It forces you to think about translating user needs to interface.
Get inspired.  Study well-designed websites to figure out how the designers maximized UX.
3. Humanities, Social Sciences, and Design
Design is embedded in our everyday lives-with the intent to improve standards of living for people.  How we listen to music.  How we talk to people.  How we buy food.  How we consume media.  How we go to the doctor.  How we use transportation.  How we raise our children.  Where we live and why.
Design education promotes visual literacy-from signs, symbols, emblems, pictures, and emojis, design is intrinsic to our daily perceptions of the world around us.
Its focus on critical thinking encourages designers in the humanities and social sciences to re-imagine how we think about the world's problems: pollution, overpopulation, poverty, hunger, healthcare-and how we create positive "user" experiences to solve those problems.
Multidisciplinary students considering design should consider two places to study to get the most from their design studies, both in Milan: the Nuova Academia Di Belle Arte, Milano (NABA), and Domus Academy.
What's unique about them?  Well, they're both in Milan, Italy, for one-the axis of the design world.  With design stars like Armani, Dolce and Gabbana, and Versace, to name a few, you'll be in good company.
Both programs offer an interdisciplinary methodology, experts in the field, an integration between education and research, and a global reach. And both programs offer scholarship competitions for international students. An added bonus - if you earn a scholarship, you not only help fund your studies but you get to work with prestigious international companies that have partnereed with NABA and Domus Academy.
NABA specifically offers postgraduate work for designers looking to hone their skills in communication design, creative advertising, product design, interior design, and visual design.
Domus Academy focuses on creating postgraduate programs in business and fashion that maximize students' real-world design experiences.  At the heart of Domus Academy's program is the internship.  With alumni including Vogue editor-at-large Anna della Russo, and students who secure jobs at big companies like Nokia, Whirlpool, Gucci, LG, Microsoft, and Ford, Domus Academy will guide you towards success.      
International STEM, business, and humanities students looking to change the visual and user-friendly scope of the world will not go wrong studying at NABA or Domus Academy in Milan.
(Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family).
Alyssa Walker

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