Pratt Institute

Graduate Industrial Design


About the Program

Pratt's Master's program in Industrial Design, ranked fourth nationally by Design Intelligence, is open to candidates holding bachelor's degrees in any area, including science, humanities, engineering, business, fine arts, design, and liberal arts-with or without design experience. The result is a student body that represents a wide range of educational backgrounds. This rich tapestry of influences-coupled with a grounding in traditional design skills, conceptualization, and design processes-prepares our graduates to become leaders who question, explore, and expand the relevance and vibrancy of this discipline.

Our students are a select group who understand that creativity is a serious business. They come to Pratt prepared to work hard, to prepare themselves to enter a field where the designer must be able to provide innovative, professional design solutions. They become leaders in industrial design as they confront the ever-changing impact of technology and innovation, and explore the relationship of design ethics and sustainable strategies within contemporary culture.

The faculty is composed of practicing design professionals whose areas of expertise include furniture, lighting, architecture, exhibition, products, graphics, tabletop, video, automotive, medical equipment, packaging, and surface design. While each faculty member within the program has his or her particular path, there is growing understanding that in the design profession, disciplines sometimes cross lines. The faculty's diversity, combined with that of the student body, creates a vibrant community of visual researchers defining the role of industrial design in our culture.

At Pratt, Industrial Design students and faculty share a common goal: to encourage individual growth to its highest potential. The many courses offered at Pratt enable students to fully develop their interests and talents. Courses and studios on product, furniture, transportation, exhibition, and tabletop design help students to develop a clear understanding of aesthetics, creating objects and experiences of enduring value and meaning that embody respect and sensitivity for others and their environment.

Industrial Design is a problem-solving methodology based on a heightened awareness of human activities, human perception, and the role these play in defining our culture through the forms and products of our daily lives.

Design projects and problems-including those that focus on social responsibility, universal accessibility, marketing, production, cultural heritage, and aesthetic content-represent the rich texture of Pratt's New York City location. The city also opens opportunities to utilize an immense number of professional and cultural facilities for internships. Internships in design and corporate offices are encouraged and have proved to be valuable learning experiences that cannot be duplicated within the university setting.

The program culminates with a thesis project in areas ranging from consumer products and packaging through transportation and exhibition design.

The Curriculum

A minimum of 48 credits of study (typically 5 semesters) is required for the Master of Industrial Design. Additional coursework is required for applicants whose undergraduate backgrounds need strengthening in industrial design; students without prior degrees in industrial design are required to take up to 11 additional credits of coursework with the notation QUAL, which will extend the length of the program (to 6 semesters). The industrial design program's first year provides a full range of structured courses, while later study is a blend of structured courses, elective study in areas of specialized interest, research, internship, and a culminating master's thesis. Degree requirements can be found here.

The thesis provides the greatest possible freedom and opportunity for pursuit of a selected topic and is done under the direction of the faculty. Students choose courses and studios typically focusing on product, furniture, exhibition, and tabletop design. Candidates are expected to demonstrate the full range of design skills, including drawing, rendering, computer modeling, 3-D modeling, color, user evaluation, and design methodology in their thesis projects. Subjects range from consumer products and packaging to transportation and exhibition design, from design curricula for developing nations to the impact of emerging philosophies, materials, and technologies on our world cultures. Students register for six credits of thesis over one year, which culminates in a formal defense of work accomplished. All work for the degree must be completed within seven calendar years after initial registration as a graduate student.

Department History

Established in 1934 by the designer and teacher Donald Dohner, Pratt's Industrial Design department is the second oldest in the US. The graduate program in Industrial Design, founded in 1975, is the oldest and largest in the country. With the aid of Alexander Kostellow and his wife, Rowena Reed Kostellow, the department became a pioneer in developing the techniques of design education and its attendant vocabulary. Each educator brought their distinct perspectives on design to the program. Dohner focused the practical, Kostellow on the philosophical and Reed Kostellow on the aesthetic. Their principles act as the foundation of the program to this day.

The program's objective, according to Alexander Kostellow, who became chair of the program in 1944, was to ‘'supply students with an organized approach to the mechanics of design, to develop an understanding of the elements of design, of structure, of the organizational forces which control them, and an ability to apply this knowledge to a variety of situations in designing for self-expression or for industry.'' Rowena Reed Kostellow described the department's goal as "the training of a designer so familiar with the principles of abstraction that he automatically thinks of a visual problem in terms of organized relationships and then feels free to study other aspects of the problem or to confer with specialists in related fields. He is a designer who can visually cross boundaries and suggest new forms for new materials or new techniques."

That incisive training has produced a history of designers with extraordinary influence in the arts and industry. Alumni of the program have created such iconic designs as the Tucker automobile, the Western Electric Trimline phone, the Pollock chair, General Motors Corvette C5 and the Cuisinart.

The distinguished history of the program provides a solid foundation for innovative and forward-thinking design. Shaping their own legacy for the future, Pratt designers continue to break new ground in their chosen fields. The work of contemporary Pratt Alumni includes the Oxo Goodgrips, IKEA's Kila Lamp, Kawaski MK9 motorcycle, as well as Core77 and Design Glut blogs.

Notable alumni of the department include:

  • Norman Anderson
  • Ralph Appelbaum
  • Harry Allen
  • Charles Pollack
  • Peter Ragonetti
  • Bruce Hannah, Knoll Furniture Systems
  • GI Ho Rim, Design Director at Fila, Korea
  • Dylan Schibanoff, Designer at Reebok
  • Adam Krent, Design Director, Lifetime Brands, KitchenAid Products
  • Lisa Smith, furniture design for Steelcase, Copper Canyon Collection for Nambé
  • Linda Celantano, Nambé
  • Lucia DeRespinis, Dunkin Donuts color identity, Turbine and Eye Clocks for George Nelson
  • Ted Muehling, jewelry and objects
  • Tucker Viemiester, OXO Good Grips
  • Mark Harrison, Original Cuisinart Food Processor
  • Harry Allen, Ikea Kila Lamp
  • Don Gennaro, Trimline Phone
  • Andrew Serbinski, Product Development at MachineArt ID, Kawsaki MK9
  • John Cafaro, Corvette C5, Director at General Motors

Department Contact Information

Industrial Design Office
Pratt Studios, Fourth Floor
200 Willoughby Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11205
718.636.3631 for general department information for department admissions inquiries

Steve Diskin
Department Chairperson

Scott Lundberg
Assistant Department Chairperson
718.399.4225 :: 718.636.3631

Audrey Lapiner
Assistant to the Chair of ID