Future Graduate Students

The Stamps MDes

The Stamps MDes is a two-year, project-centered program intended to immerse students in the principles, research methods and creative processes of Integrative Design. Throughout their study, MDes students work both independently and collectively, focusing on real world problems and enabling collaborative experiences that model future work environments.

The “Wicked” Problem-based Model

While most designers begin by studying a single discipline (e.g. industrial, graphic, interior, interaction, etc.), in actual practice most designers work in cross-disciplinary teams. With this reality in mind, the Stamps MDes is intentionally structured around a particular set of problems, those identified as ‘wicked’ problems, in order to accentuate and give students first-hand knowledge of the need for, and power of, integrative design.

A ‘wicked’ problem is a social or cultural problem that is difficult or impossible to solve. Examples include: climate change; universal health-care; crime; energy; poverty; waste; and social injustice. Solutions are subjective and the limits of the problems and the resources needed to address them are subject to change over time.

In the Stamps MDes program, a select team of students from a broad range of backgrounds, (product designers, visual communication designers, user-experience designers, etc.) come together to grapple with a single “wicked” problem, collaborating with key stakeholders, professionals, and research faculty from across the university and the Stamps School.

Each cohort of Stamps MDes students enters the program as part of an umbrella design project led by the MDes Program Director. Within this larger project, students are expected to provide individual contributions to the project’s goal in ways that combine inquiry, investigation, and creative work. Each member of the MDes cohort has the opportunity to approach the project from a perspective that is of particular interest to them and that contributes to the project as a whole.

Students will learn to practice:

  • Studio‐based inquiry
  • Integrative collaboration
  • Design‐led research/Research‐led design
  • Complexity visualization/modeling
  • Creative methodologies
  • Critical reframing of problems

The goal of the Stamps MDes program is to develop future-proof design professionals, prepared to be agile, resourceful and collaborative in response to a rapidly evolving field of design.