Design Research

Headshot of Adam Smith.

Design research at RIT is unique because we’re in a unique institute. We teach design at its core elements to be that communication tool. We have the resources in our archives to support that. But what separates us is next door in engineering. We have sciences in the next building. So it’s not far for the designer or the scientist to go to make that connection.”

Adam Smith

Associate Professor

In this video, faculty from 3D Digital Design, New Media Design and Industrial Design discuss how collaborations with researchers in fields like engineering and science positively impacts RIT's design programs. 

“We develop research by making things, by testing them and exploring how they might work out," said Alex Lobos, graduate director of the Industrial Design MFA program. "It’s definitely a lot more hands-on, a lot more focused on interaction with different stakeholders.”

Startup Success

ThermApparel is a Rochester-based company that designs lightweight cooling vests for individuals with heat intolerance, often associated with multiple sclerosis. 

The company, started by Industrial Design alumni Bradley Dunn ’15 and Kurtis Kracke ’15, went through RIT’s Venture Creations business incubator. It started as a multidisciplinary student project in 2015 through RIT’s Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and quickly developed into a viable business with the cooling vests being sold in 40 states and nine countries. Thermapprel also expanded to market to customers who are heat sensitive due to medical drug side effects, hormonal imbalances, traumatic brain injuries and other neurological disorders.

Designing for Resilient Spaces

An open office design plan with ample dividers to promote social distancing.

Students in RIT’s Interior Design program produced office designs equipped to not only stay active during the COVID-19 pandemic, but handle other unexpected events. 

As 2020 brought increased awareness to the critical role interior designers play in preventing the spread of disease and nurturing mental health, students responded by designing with health, safety and adaptability in mind. For their Office Design class, students considered the global pandemic’s effect on the previous functionality of offices. Their designs reflected needed adjustments to create the office of the future. 

Course instructor Kelly Jahn said students were diligent in their research as they became versed in COVID-19’s long-term impact on office design. 

“Taking on this challenge allowed us to develop the skills of thinking outside of the box and thinking about creating designs that can make people’s lives as easy as possible, no matter the situation,” said Sara Chambers ’22. 

Learn more

Design by Ashley Diltz '22

Key Faculty and Staff