Drawing on its historic contribution to responsible, human-centered design, Industrial Design (or ID) teaches students to use critical thinking and the design process itself to bring new value to companies, communities and citizens. Professors with expertise in a wide range of areas guide students in researching user experiences to create well-conceived and executed objects, products and systems that make everyday tasks easier.

Degree programs

4-year undergraduate degree
2-year graduate program

In responding to assigned projects, ID majors work with a wide range of materials in the process of designing objects, products, systems and experiences. Students develop ideas by starting with sketches and drawings, and moving on to models and working prototypes.

Dennis Krawec | senior

"Industrial Design is such a broad, open major at RISD. It's really inspiring to see other people's work and everyone I've met is happy to share tricks, tips and ideas. There are also so many resources and collaborative projects to take advantage of, both in the department and across campus. I'm getting involved with as many activities as I can while I'm here."

Peter Yeadon | department head

“Our outstanding faculty of artists, designers, practitioners and scholars fully support Industrial Design students in creatively pursuing new means and new meanings. Our students make fresh ideas and compelling arguments that are informed by research and evidence. These creative ideas become clearly manifest in their splendid, diverse works, which students are expected to test and validate through prototyping and critique.”

ID alumni go on to make a real difference through design, offering innovative solutions to a wide range of needs. They start their own businesses, join cutting-edge studios and work for organizations and corporations, contributing to almost every field imaginable by creating medical devices, household products, alternative transportation vehicles, nanotech devices, new materials and much more…

Alumni at work

Melissa Armstrong BFA 07 | studio artist

“My studio resembles a mad scientist's lab,” Melissa says, referring to recent experiments with making sculpture by growing it — from sugar crystals. “I have always been really interested in the intersection of art and science.” Since graduation Melissa has continued to pursue her passion though a residency at the Vermont Studio Center and an NEA grant to study at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Now living in Brooklyn, she’s an active member the Wayfarers artist collective and balances studio work with a day job as a sculpture conservator.

Soaib Grewall BFA 11 | social entrepreneur

“More than a billion people worldwide lack access to clean drinking water,” says Soaib, who worked with several Brown students to launch a nonprofit effort known as WaterWalla. Their mission? To bring clean water to India's slums. Soaib relocated to India right after graduation to head WaterWalla's Mumbai office and is now making great headway in tackling this chronic public-health issue.


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