10 things you should know before studying product design
By WGSN Insider

You’ll create the future but also be covered in glue. WGSN Director of Footwear and Accessories Jacqui Ma – a product design graduate – reveals what to expect

Oct 22, 2015
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studying product design
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You’re artistic and you want to create, but you eventually want to work on objects that range from the everyday to the mind-bendingly futuristic. So, what do you study? Product design. It’s a degree you can do so much with plus basically every industry has a need for someone like you.

However, before you sign away up to four years of your life, here are 10 things you need to know about the (mostly brilliant) reality of the course…

1. It’s quite important you enjoy drawing and if you like drawing cubes, even better. Why? You’ll spend a lot of time perspective drawing – particularly in first year.

2. Glue fingers are your everyday #struggle. It’s literally everywhere – your hands are characterised by some degree of stickiness for the entire course. Also, you’re covered in sawdust and paint. If it’s on the workshop floor, it’s on you.

3. You’re kind of grouped together with the architecture students which fosters a very unique passive aggressive rivalry. They’re wearing black turtlenecks convinced they’re the coolest, you’re in your most impressive cycling gear thinking the same. And yes, both those archetypal descriptions are actually true to life.

studying product design david scott

Credit: University of Brighton

4. You’ll be tasked with carving domestic products which you take immense pride in. Don’t be surprised to find yourself trawling through a skip to find an electrical cord. Only when you have this will your wooden hand blender be finished and ready to present…

5. …because presentation is a big deal! Immediately after you’ve carved the best wooden electrical appliance that ever was, you have to explain it to your course mates who then rank you. Which is nice (it’s not).

6. You become incredibly preoccupied with the ergonomics of literally everything.

7. Ethics is a big part of your thought process. Creating another chair just to create another chair is a terrible idea.

studying product design

Credit: University of Brighton

8. You get to work with huge, massive machines! The type of machines you could lose limbs on! Which is exhilarating (but also, in retrospect, quite terrifying).

9. You learn the hard way that sanding and chatting leads to heartbreak. Absentminded sanding for a second longer than necessary = an object that’s too small/the wrong shape = starting all over again.

10. There’s so much you can do afterwards. Want to work for Nike? Easy. Design furniture? Go ahead. Create Google’s next big product? Do it. Everyone needs product designers – you’ll design the future.

MORE: 10 things you should know before studying textiles

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  • Julius

    Working the machines with a tie …. Damn that’s dangerous ! It’s not limb you might loose working with a loose scarf/hair/tie etc … It’s your HEAD !!!!! Or at least your life

  • Pingback: 10 cosas que debes saber antes de estudiar diseño de productos | Designia()

  • How about you tell them the reality of how scarce product design jobs are. And that the pay isn’t that great either when compared to other similar jobs like engineering, which earn DOUBLE right off the bat than designers do. Wish I knew all this before getting my M.A. in Industrial Design. Ohh well, got to go pay off those ridiculously expensive student loans…


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