Furniture Design at RISD offers an intensive immersion in materials research and exploration in the process of making furniture and objects. Students investigate some of the most important questions facing designers today—from how to take advantage of changing technologies and new materials, to how to respond to variable economic conditions and evolving lifestyles.
In the Furniture Design BFA program you learn the principles and practice of the discipline and explore how to advance the social role of art and design as a responsible maker and citizen.
The MFA in Furniture Design invites you to experiment with concepts, materials and form, as you build a unique point of view about furniture and create objects suited for one-of-a-kind, limited or mass production.
In the studio
Furniture Design majors are encouraged to experiment with a wide range of materials and approaches while focusing on human factors and sustainable, responsible design.
The Boston Globe profiles the RISD Furniture Design alum, a recent United States Artist Fellowship recipient who also cofounded the Black Mamas community group.
Students in this year’s Witness Tree Project studio-seminar create objects out of beetle-infested maple from Vermont’s Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park.
RISD students in every department present their work to peers, faculty members and visiting critics.
Furniture Design graduates go on to become thinker/makers who follow a variety of paths, from launching their own businesses making furniture and/or other objects to working as commercial product designers, teaching, running galleries and more.
Alumni at work
Raised in Tijuana, Mexico, Tanya Aguiñiga now lives in Los Angeles, where her work is informed by border experiences and infused with cross-cultural influences. She sees furniture as a way to translate emotions into 3D objects, tell stories through color and touch, and encourage people to reconsider the objects they use every day. Aguiñiga, whose work has been exhibited from Mexico City to Milan, actively works to combine furniture design and community activism, as seen in her 2018 project AMBOS, which featured artists collaborating in real time on either side of the US/Mexico border.
After graduating all the same year, Theo Richardson, Charles Brill and Alex Williams repurposed their own last names to launch a NYC-based design studio called Rich Brilliant Willing. Since then they have made a distinctive mark in the design world by creating desirable products that are both disarmingly simple and totally user-oriented. In doing so, they have also earned broad critical acclaim, winning the ICFF Best New Designers Award and making Forbes’ list of the top 30 Under 30 design talent.
In her studio practice, Katie Stout creates playful furnishings that reflect her own personality and pop aesthetic. “I think it’s a reaction to growing up in a vanilla suburb where every other house was exactly the same,” says the furniture designer, who has shown work in Milan, Miami and NYC as well as on the cover of New York magazine. In 2015 the Brooklyn-based artist won the first Ellen’s Design Challenge TV competition, earning a reputation as a playful, audacious risk-taker who stands out on a national stage.