We go where
the project
takes us

MFA in Advanced Product Design

Curriculum

Curriculum

1st study year

1. Skills and techniques 

Syllabus

During this first course the students at the programme are introduced to many of the basic tools and workshop facilities that they will be utilizing throughout their two years of study. In parallel the students will be working with a form semantic exercise what includes intensive ideation in 2D and 3D. This exercise has in recent years focused on the creative development of water tap concepts and include market input and feedback from Ostnor AB, the Swedish producer of water mixers and market leading in Sweden with the brands of FM Mattsson and Mora.

2. CAID

Syllabus step 1
Syllabus step 2

During the CAID course students attend lessons on digital surface modelling where Alias is taught. Visualization and rendering software are also introduced. The 4-week course consists of lectures and practical training carried out in the computer lab under the guidance of an authorized teacher.

3. Design for User Experience / People-Centred Design

Syllabus

The first term project focuses on a specific user group, often involved in a professional workplace. This involves studying and analysing the workplace and the users' daily life there. This research material forms the basis of a problem identification phase in search of design opportunities. This is concluded with the exploration of a number of product or system solutions. After the problem identification phase the students are asked to produce design briefs, which are statements of intention and include research, conclusions, goals and wishes, and a time plan. A tradition at the Umeå Institute of Design involves high-quality presentation models, and the students are given guidance in model building, and the models are a required part of their final presentations. The project is concluded with a written report that incorporates the design brief, the final results and conclusions.

4. Industrial Sound Design

Syllabus

This creative form course includes experiments and shorter exercises designed to investigate the
topics of sound, imagery, action and form and the interaction between these. The course ends with a conceptual project assignment in which students explore and design a product of their own choice with coherent form- and sound-language. The course in recent years been carried out as a joined course between the APD programme and the Interaction Design Programme. 

5. Product Analysis and Parametric Modelling

Syllabus

This course, which includes software training, production methods and a creative design exercise, are divided into four phases. The first phase includes a short intensive course in SolidWorks, as a useful complement to the previous surface-modelling course. The second phase concerns product analysis in which a product is disassembled and analysed. The third phase involves the development of the product improvements through the use of SolidWorks with the purpose of creating files for prototype production using the school's rapid prototyping equipment. The last of the four phases includes the finishing of the rapid prototyped models and assembly with the existing components of the initially analysed product, in order to create a full-functioning prototype of a new product.

6. Strategic Design

Syllabus

The second term project focuses on the implementation of strategic product design. On the basis of a chosen company with a clearly definable brand or corporate identity, the students investigate the company's history, brand, products, core values, brand personality, etc. as a group exercise. This phase results in a presentation and initial report describing the design strategy of the chosen company. During this phase there will be lectures and tutoring by professionals in the area of strategic design. As always the students are asked to individually identify a design opportunity and design a product that respects the characteristics of the company's present or future design identity. This can involve supplementing existing product lines, or the development completely new ones.  
                   

2nd study year

7. Visual Design Prototyping

Syllabus

During this creative filmmaking course, the students will, with the use of "visual storytelling", create an explanatory time-based visualization of the intended usage and designed interaction between a user and a product, often a concept designed previously by the individual student. The purpose of this course is to bridge between the imagination of the next generation of designers with new powerful ways for displaying and "telling the story" of their design visions.

8. Conceptual Product Solutions

Syllabus

The third term project usually focuses on the investigation of an interesting and complex design challenge, combining user needs, a complex usage scenario and technology. The students are requested as to utilize their newly acquired movie-making skills and document and visualize their entire design process and final concept result with a movie.

9. Creative Reflections on Product Design

Syllabus

This course serves as preparation for the final thesis in the programme. The course include individual reflections about project themes, methods and the process of design in combination with the student's own design philosophy. It aims at exploring the potential of influencing and developing the work methods and process of design and thereby strengthen role of the professional industrial designer of the future.

10. Degree Project

Syllabus

The fourth and final semester is devoted entirely to the examination project and runs for 20 weeks. The exam project is normally done in cooperation with a corporate sponsor or external partner, usually on the initiative of the student. Students are expected to identify design opportunities, establish contact with stakeholders and write a project brief which includes project goals, description of methods, anticipated deliverables and outline budget. The process of defining the projects starts early in the third semester and is done in dialogue with the Programme Director. A professional designer is assigned as an external tutor to support the students during the examination projects.