Where Art + Business Meet

Where Art + Business Meet

Through long-term partnerships with MIT’s Sloan School of Management and Babson College, RISD students investigating product development have an opportunity to work closely with their business school counterparts– students majoring in marketing, manufacturing, engineering design, management and other disciplines. Product Design and Development emphasizes intelligent solutions to specific product challenges from corporate partners, pairing aspiring designers with business and engineering students for a holistic development process. The team approach has resulted in a wide variety of finished products, many of which have been patented and brought to market.

“Effective development of products is an interdisciplinary process,” says Matt Kressy BFA 88 ID, a critic in RISD’s Industrial Design Department who has taught the course for several years. The complexities involved in conceiving, building and marketing new products aren’t solved within a single professional field; the process demands expertise in such varied areas as product planning, customer needs analysis, concept development and testing, financial analysis, design for manufacturing, intellectual property and project management. Drawing on a groundbreaking curriculum by MIT professors Steven Eppinger and Karl Ulrich, the team process followed in the course allows students to bring their complementary capabilities to the challenges and encourages new perspectives.

The products that have emerged from Product Design and Development collaborations over the years span many markets. Recent projects include a wireless information device for travelers, developed in partnership with Nokia; a real-time video entertainment system for cars sponsored by General Motors; a low-cost incubator for the Cambridge, MA nonprofit Design that Matters; and direct-to-consumer products in the athletic wear, entertaining and travel markets.

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