In the Collaborative Design program, you’ll engage in a design process that blends focused listening and observation with integrative thinking and insight to identify opportunities and solve problems. Using this process, you’ll uncover, facilitate, and communicate solutions to complex, systemic challenges across a broad range of professional applications, both independently and as part of a team. You’ll also cultivate an intimate awareness of how design impacts sustainability and the economy.
A blend of studio classes and a required minor in a specific design discipline that piques your interest will help you understand, implement, and advocate for good design wherever life leads you. You’ll also round your education out with a wide range of general education and art history courses that will stimulate your curiosity, broaden your perspective, and inspire new creative expressions. KCAD’s flexible General Education Pathways model empowers you to direct your learning by exploring subjects you find most engaging and relevant.
The Collaborative Design program transforms curious individuals into “specialized generalists” who possess an acute understanding of the range and purpose of multiple design disciplines. You’ll develop strong collaborative communication and research skills and gain hands-on experience applying design thinking and systemic approaches to solve problems from a human-centered perspective that will allow you to facilitate the connection of design disciplines to business and nonprofit organizational needs. You’ll also come away with the ability to leverage a variety of media, from print to digital to interactive, to generate, communicate, and implement design solutions.
KCAD’s BFA in Collaborative Design continues the college’s rich legacy of preparing students for successful careers in art and design. Today, the skills we teach are in higher demand, and not just in creative fields, but outside of them as well. In collaborative environments all over the world, employers are looking for people who understand the design process, can apply it to real-life challenges, and know how to communicate their ideas to a larger team or audience. At KCAD, we’ve been helping students develop those same qualities for more than 80 years. Now, our experience can become your edge.
As a Collaborative Design graduate, you’ll be primed for a variety of careers in traditional design fields, businesses, and nonprofit organizations in addition to being able to adapt to and thrive in a rapidly evolving and increasingly competitive job market. You’ll also emerge well prepared to undertake graduate level study in a specialized area.
As a student in the Collaborative Design program, you’ll benefit from KCAD’s Material ConneXion Library, which offers direct access to more than 1,000 physical samples of advanced, innovative, and sustainable materials as well as online access to over 7,000 more. You’ll also have access to The Dow Center FlexLab, KCAD’s state-of-the-art digital fabrication facility featuring 3D printers and scanners, laser cutting and vinyl cutting machines, wide format printers, and more; and the KCAD Library, which provides access to millions of books through the MeLCat shared library catalog as well as access to specialized research databases and subscriptions to scholarly journals.
Collaborative Design students also benefit from access to industry interactions, guest speakers, design forums, and other events hosted by Design West Michigan, a KCAD organization that explores and advocates for design as an economic building block in the region.
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An introduction to the computer as a design tool using the industry standards in page layout and digital illustration, and photo manipulation software, the Adobe Creative Suite. File transport (PDF) and font management software will also be introduced.
Freehand drawing using basic perspective principles and quick sketch techniques.
The "A" side of design focuses on the creative skills inherent to every design discipline. The "B" side focuses on the "business" aspects necessary in creating a sustainable professional practice. This course explores the fundamentals of promotion, business development, and fiscal responsibility necessary to maintaining viable organizations; whether in the form of sole practitioner or incorporated business entities. Understanding the roles of marketing executives, strategic planners, account services, and production personnel as players working together with designers on the final creative deliverable is the key to entering the professional market and differentiate the individual as a "strategic design thinker".
An introduction to the visual and verbal vocabularies of design and color theory as they relate to graphic design.
This course will expose students to the various forms of research, analysis, sampling, focus groups, analytics with an emphasis on ethnographic research and the implications on the design process.
To explore the elements, principles and aesthetic concepts integral to three-dimensional design and to consider relationships between concept, process, materials, tools and technical skills. (Students who have earned credit for ARTS 120, 3-D Design, may not use credit earned in KCSF 11 to meet graduation requirements.)
Students will be exposed to the full range of design disciplines, their history of development, how they interact, differ, converge and lead to change in accommodating new needs. Students will explore design principles and processes, including product innovation and development, sustainability, form and function, and discover how design is an asset to the economy and works with business.
An introductory course focused on the issues of sustainability, the environmental, social and economic strategies for design. Discussions will include the impact of sustainability on the future of design and design services, and the opportunities and basis for new markets to meet changing needs.
An interactive and facilitated experience through dialogue and creative expression exploring a range of topics, providing students an exposure to what is dialogue,asking questions, meaningful conversation with those of varying views/opinions. Students will explore impacts of communication on design of professionals, process, and project success. Collaborative-based projects will explore applications of discussions.
From a combination of perceptual psychology and ethnographic research,the student will explore the underlying elements of how we perceive, react and relate to the designed world. The student will consider the physiological and learned behaviors that shape our interactions with the built environment with an emphasis on experiential and emotional design.
Explore the ways we perceive, react, understand and judge our physical and emotional environments. Students will gain an increased awareness and understanding of visual acuity. Inspire students to consider 'seeing' as a method for understanding, gaining new perspectives and problem solving.
Explores the design process and application common to all disciplines as related to business, organizational, and built environments. Using textbooks and case studies this course looks at right and left brain thinking, heuristic thinking, and how we approach different problems. The course will use organizational techniques for gaining systemic insights into complex situations and problems.
Investigates the differences in design needs for a range of environments, products, and communications that provide services; health care, food service, financial, insurances, governmental, and more. Looks at understanding the unique set of constraints and opportunities related to the service industries.
An overview of the different forms of business and organizational structures; profit and non-profit, services, manufacturing, governmental, private, and public partnerships. An exploration of the differences and similarities, their operational methodologies and relationships to design. Discussion of how design innovation impacts business and economic development strategies.
Capstone project, determined in conference with the faculty advisor is to apply the concepts and competencies learned in the Collaborative Design program. The student will engage in an immersive experience/study of a specific area related to culture and societal needs, and present the workin both presentation and thesis formats. Portfolio presentation, (or predetermined equivalent) development, and documentation of the quality and scope of thestudent's work. Effective oral, visual, and written communications is expected.
An interdisciplinary experience providing an applied learning opportunity. Through an engagement with organizations, students will be introduced to all aspects of the project design process, with a focus to "whole systems design thinking."
An overview of the Western art tradition from prehistory through the Renaissance using a socio-cultural methodology in a chronological framework. (Students who have earned credit for ARTH 110, Prehistoric through Middle Ages, may not use credit earned in KCAH 111 to meet graduation requirements.)
A survey of Western art from the Baroque to the present, this course will continue building upon the foundation of Western Art I; Prehistoric through the Renaissance, using a socio-cultural methodology in a chronological framework. (Students who have earned credit for ARTH 111, Renaissance through 20th Century, may not use credit earned in KCAH 112 to meet graduation requirements.)
A continuation of the survey Design History from the eighteenth century to the present emphasizing developments in architecture, interiors, furniture, decorative, and fine arts.
An examination of the concept of Modernism and how it is expressed in Western art and architecture from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century. (Students who have earned credit for ARTH 310, History of Twentieth Century Art, may not use credit earned in KCAH 311.)
An indepth study of fine art and theory from 1960 to the present.
This course focuses on using writing to develop ideas, hone critical thinking skills, and express ideas clearly and appropriately according to audience and purpose. Students write in a variety of modes and spend a portion of the semester engaging in scholarly research. Students also develop their public speaking skills.
This course provides a core understanding of effective storytelling. It examines the ways in which storytellers-both past and present-craft, organize, and convey ideas to successfully impact audiences, doing so through both inquiry into established narratives, as well as students' own experiments with narrative forms.
This course examines what it means to be a member of a particular society and how individuals both form and are formed by society. It will provide students with a better understanding of the social and cultural worlds they inhabit.
This course is an inquiry into the nature and power of philosophy to transform the way we experience the world around us and understand our place within it. Through a selection of readings representing various philosophical traditions and perspectives, critical discussion, and writing, students will examine some of the great questions that have intrigues philosophers from antiquity to present.
Download the catalog for the most recent course listings and prerequisites.
In collaborative environments all over the world, employers are looking for people who understand the design process, can apply it to real-life challenges and know how to communicate their ideas to the team.
The Collaborative Design program will prepare you for a variety of careers in traditional design fields, business, and nonprofit organizations.