The field of designed objects closely examines, and then reimagines the entire range of physical things we use to facilitate and mediate our daily lives. It cultivates new relationships between the designer and the consumer and the citizen and society. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) offers two master’s-level degree options in designed objects for students who want to further their studies in this exciting field.

MDes versus MFA

SAIC's Master of Design (MDes) in Designed Objects is a two-year, carefully sequenced, course-based curriculum for students who require immersion in the critical and technical skills specific to the field of object design.

In contrast, the two-year Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Designed Objects is for students with previous experience in the field of 3D design, such as furniture and lighting design, ceramic design, jewelry design, product design, etc. The tutorial structure of the MFA allows students to pursue independent projects while working with advisors one-on-one each semester.

Master of Design in Designed Objects

Borrowing critically from product design, systems design, furniture design, and interaction design, SAIC's MDes in Designed Objects program envisions designers as agentive, social citizens and maintains an expansive understanding of the object: product/system, practical/speculative, analog/digital, microscopic/monumental, hand-crafted/industrial, localized/ galactic.

Master of Fine Arts in Designed Objects

SAIC’s MFA program provides a creative and intellectual context in which the nature and potentiality of designed things can be closely examined, and the given norms of objects and products can be rethought. MFA in Designed Objects students draw on the knowledge and skills of faculty working in adjacent and complementary programs such as Architecture, Interior Architecture, Design for Emerging Technologies, Visual Communication Design, Fashion Design, and Art and Technology Studies.

MDes and MFA students are encouraged to apply for project-based design studios such as Industry Partnerships and the collaborative GFRY studio, sponsored by Motorola. Recent industry projects include collaborations with Samsung, Industreal, Danese Milano, the Tacoma Museum of Glass, Rossana Orlandi (Salone Internazionale del Mobile), Brand.It, Haworth, and Dupont Corian. The GFRY studio has produced wide-reaching demonstration projects such as 2000 Watt Living, 18% Grey, Com(m)a, RE:, and Watershed with international partners in Europe, Asia, and South America. Clickhere more information on these projects.

Interested in learning more?

Click around the pages of this website for information on admissions and curriculumrequirements, Master of Design in Designed Objects faculty, students and alumni, and more.

Interested in learning more about how you can apply?

Visit the graduate admissions website or contact the graduate admissions office at 800.232.7242 or