A wide shot of a ceramics studio, featuring students working with pottery wheels and other tools.

Tim Fates (MDDO 2014)


Where are you now and what kind of work/projects are you currently working on?

I live outside of Chicago and split my time working out of two collaborative workspaces,  mHUB in River West and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at The University of Chicago. I am currently focused on bringing a product to market, which I designed to be a new platform for awareness, fundraising, and personal expression in support of organizations making positive change. 

How did SAIC prepare you for where you are today?

The MDDO program at SAIC taught me to consider a product from every conceivable perspective. Doing so necessitates collaboration, and that collaboration comes naturally after experiencing the studio environment of the program.

What particular classes/projects/approaches to subjects influenced you?

My thesis project was incredibly influential in that it showed me how fulfilling design can be when it’s personal, and how powerful design can be when it’s authentic.

What career advice do you have for current students, looking at how you see your field evolving?

The opportunities for designers are plentiful yet can be difficult to identify or may be poorly defined.  Ask yourself what themes are common among the designers and projects you admire. And then, what fields of work will allow you to explore those themes. Don’t be afraid to design your own career path.


With whom did you study at SAIC or who influenced you?

My MDDO class was a tight group and I feel very fortunate that we pushed, collaborated, and learned from each other in the ways that we did. Since graduating, we have continued to work together on projects as well as provide guidance to each other on our individual endeavors. I am also very appreciative of the mentorship and counsel several of my former MDDO professors continue to provide.

Tim Fates is a product designer, entrepreneur, and founder of dotUP, a platform for community, engagement, and personal expression. Tim received his master’s degree in Designed Objects at SAIC and bachelor’s degree in Political Science from U.C. Berkeley. His professional experience also includes financial services and retail operations. Tim lives in the Chicago area with his wife and two daughters.