Product Design is about shaping the world around us. Most objects, from toys to medical devices and from furniture to consumer electronics are subject to product design. This is possible because product design is a versatile process that can be applied to many different contexts. At its core, product design is about understanding people and how they experience and interact with their surroundings. This kind of training enables graduates to help make the world a fairer, more inclusive and sustainable place.
What will I study?
Studying Product Design at NCAD will enable you to develop your abilities within a creative design school environment. The core priorities of the course are to foster technical skills, innovative thinking and social responsibility. The curriculum has been designed to introduce you to the latest tools and methods employed at various stages of the design process. Recognising the value of true innovation, it will encourage you to research thoroughly, to challenge conventions and to think about problems in new and exciting ways. Our program is built around a core belief in design as a potential force for good; the design we teach is human-centred, inclusive, equitable and sustainable. We are always open to new ways of doing things and will encourage you to experiment and forge your own path towards desired outcomes. The program is delivered primarily within a design studio with personal desks and an adjacent workshop with advanced 3D printing and laser cutting equipment. Alongside closely supervised design projects, you will also be supported by lectures from leading creative practitioners, by collaborative interdisciplinary opportunities, live industry projects and international study trips to Milan and Dutch design weeks.
The first year experience for BA students at NCAD begins with a foundational semester of interdisciplinary Art and Design creative practice and research. In the second semester all Design students undertake projects spent within selected design programmes. This is to give you a working taste of your chosen discipline and/or those that you are interested in and would benefit from experiencing. The second half of Semester 2 introduces students to key processes and practices in your chosen design discipline, encouraging the creative and critical development of a personal practice and introducing fundamental disciplinary design and technical methods.
Students develop key skills and knowledge – including 2D and 3D sketching, computer-aid- ed design, presentation techniques, model-making and rapid prototyping, design research methods, ergonomics, material science and manufacturing technology – and apply this learning through a series of design projects. Each of these projects prioritises a different core theme, such as human-centred design, inclusive design, sustainability, design for manufacture or design for social impact.
Year 3: Studio+ & International
Studio+ is an optional year open to all Design students allowing you to engage with the world beyond NCAD by gaining practical work experience in the form of working within the NCAD Design Bureau on live commercial, social or community projects and/or undertaking approved internships and industry placements. Studio+ can also include a work placement abroad or a study abroad experience through the Erasmus programme with internationally recognised art and design faculties partnered with NCAD. Students who choose Studio+ will complete a 4 year BA in Product Design or a 4 year BA Product Design (International).
Students choose and develop their own self-directed design projects, based on their individual skills and interests. You will create a substantial body of work, which will allow you to demonstrate the skills and knowledge you have acquired over the previous years. You will also be supported in a sustained reflection on the discipline and on your personal strengths in relation to it, in order to help you identify your future path as a professional designer.
How will I be assessed?
Coursework, essays, practical design projects and assessments take place at key points throughout the year. Formal assessment results are issued at the end of each academic year.
A key component of your curriculum in every year is the study of Critical Cultures. This is where you study the connections between history, theory and practice in modern and contemporary contexts in order to become a critically engaged, reflective and effective practitioner.
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Opportunities after graduation
Product Design graduates have a wide range of local and global opportunities open to them. Designers may choose to specialise in a particular area, such as consumer electronics, furniture or medical devices, but many of the skills acquired are transferable between projects and products. Many graduates find employment with manufacturers or design consultancies. Some graduates have strong entrepreneurial skills, which will enable them to strike out on their own, designing and making their own products or providing design services for others.
Increasingly, graduates progress to further study at postgraduate level to refine their creative abilities and approach. The School of Design offers a range of innovative masters programmes, as well as a practice-based PhD programme.
Student & Graduate Stories
Sabhín O’Sullivan, BA Product Design 2020
Overall winner of the Design for Social Good category in the ARTSTHREAD i-D Global Graduate Awards 2020.
Why did you decide to study at National College of Art & Design?
I visited the NCAD campus at one of the open days and instantly felt at home - this was the kind of environment I belonged in. I didn’t even know what I wanted to study, but I knew I would enjoy it as long as I was here.
Design Competition Awards
- Overall winner of the Design for Social Good category in the ARTSTHREAD i-D Global Graduate Awards 2020.
- Shortlisted for Royal Society of Arts Student Design Awards 2020 with ‘Ardú’
- Winner of the NCAD Staff Choice Award 2020
- Finalist in the Engineers Without Borders Challenge 2018 with ‘Culture Kits’
- Shortlisted for the design of ESB’s Free Electrons Trophy 2018 with ‘Path’
Moses Rowen, BDes Industrial Design (Product Design) 2013
Current Career - Innovation Designer
Why did you decide to study at National College of Art & Design?
When I realised that there wasn’t a course that taught you how to design things from scratch (I also wanted to design robots and flying machines), I had to make a decision. Learn the creative part, then the technical part or vice versa. I decided on the latter. I initially studied mechanical engineering at DIT and then industrial design at NCAD. I’m glad I did it in this order. The frustration I felt from the focused practicality of engineering was alleviated by the creative freedom I found in design. I was lucky enough to be offered a job straight out of NCAD. The job was in architecture - West 8 in Rotterdam. They threw me in the deep end! It was an incredible learning experience. I got to work on world-class projects. I designed a lot of furniture, but I also designed bridges in Russia, sculptures in Columbia, and towers in China.