Pre-Programs in New York and London

Feb 20, 2013 // IMPERIAL / RCA, KMD, PRATT


Preparatory Program @ Pratt, New York
Dates: October 6 (Sat) – October 28 (Sun), 2012
Participating Students Abroad: 4 from KMD

Preparatory Program @ RCA/Imperial College, London
Dates: January 30 (Wed) – February 24 (Sun), 2013
Participating Students Abroad: 4 from KMD, 3 from Pratt

Preparatory Program @ Pratt, New York
Dates: February 10 (Sun) – February 17 (Sun), 2013
Participating Students Abroad: 3 from KMD, 3 from RCA/Imperial


Pre-Programs in New York & London

by Daniel Steinbock 


After the KMD-hosted Pre-Program in Japan, Pre-Programs were held at both Pratt Institute in New York City and RCA/Imperial in London. KMD students spent nearly a month visiting and studying at each of these partners, working alongside local students and faculty to learn their unique perspective on design practice.

New York Projects

At Pratt, visiting students joined in classes with Pratt students. In the famous “3D abstraction” class, they worked on three-dimensional form making projects, learning to shape abstract forms out of plaster and arrange them in space to create dynamic relationships and tensions. For most KMD students, this was their first time working in the medium of plaster (a common material for art and sculpture students), but they accepted the challenge and performed well alongside their Pratt peers. In other classes, they learned about the history of industrial design, toy design, and about color theory in its application in the construction of physical materials. The color theory class demonstrated one emphasis of the Pratt approach to industrial design: a focus on three-dimensional objects made from plastic, glass, metal, wood, etc., reveals how color ‘theory’ applies to real physical objects, not just in the abstract mixing of paint colors on a flat canvas.

London Projects

At the RCA/Imperial in London, students don’t take courses in the typical sense. Instead, they work on a standard sequence of challenging projects, each lasting 3-4 weeks typically. Some projects are team-based and others are solo, ranging from conceptual product development to full-scale manufacturing. The rapid movement from one project to the next means the curriculum is fast-paced, always new and challenging. During the Pre-Program in London, visiting students from KMD and Pratt joined a project called Gizmo, in which they learned how to combine basic mechanical elements (bearings, shafts, gears, belts, chains, fasteners, clutches, brakes, seals, actuators and motors) into a whimsical machine. Past projects have included a miniature steam engine, an automatic cocktail mixer, a pinwheel factory, and a popcorn machine. Students worked solo, but with constant guidance from RCA and Imperial project tutors, as well as their student peers.


Both Pratt and RCA/Imperial challenged the visiting Pre-Program students to expand their repertoire of design skills and even their very definition of design. KMD students are accustomed to design as primarily focused on a user-centered concept: a team of designers studies a particular human situation (e.g. a museum visit) in order to discover ways that design could support and improve on the existing user experience. At Pratt, students were exposed to a form of design that emphasized aesthetics and the design of beautiful, emotional forms. At RCA, students learned the value of deliberate whimsy and unexpected juxtaposition in exploring new product concepts. These new perspectives on design and creative practice challenged visiting students, and this is exactly why the Global Innovation Design program is so valuable. GID students return from their studies abroad with an expanded sense of what is possible through design and a unique ability to integrate diverse perspectives into their creative work.