School of Design

Our graduating design students have had no choice about the age in which they live, study and begin their careers. It has been a year radically transformed by a global pandemic, storied by courageous actions against systemic injustices, and increasing awareness of our need to act on the existential challenge of climate crisis. What our students have been able to make a choice about, is their attitude and positioning, their level of participation in living with, responding to, and making sense of, this world in which they find themselves.

Adapting to new models of learning and creating during the multiple lockdowns this year, our students have produced work that exemplifies what design is capable of. The levels of resilience, ingenuity and agility that these graduates bring with them into their future careers is truly remarkable.

To choose to be a designer today is to accept a vocation in the world. Our graduating students have tackled critical social, environmental and economic issues through their design thinking, making and doing. They haven’t sought to retreat into the comfort of escapist futures, nor wallowed in the imagined halcyon days of the past, rather, they have responded to the challenges of the present, responding to the world as it is today, in all its complexity.

Design students at NCAD think differently about design. They start with concepts and questions, they challenge established design precepts and socio-cultural, ethical and technical assumptions to ensure that they don’t simply play a role in shaping objects, materials, spaces and services for today. NCAD Design students seek to define the very nature of what a society may need, want and desire in the future.

The global reputation and profile for the School of Design is built on a distinct pedagogical approach championed by its academic team and pushed by its learners. NCAD students won numerous awards this year including an unprecedented three RSA student design awards, making NCAD the most decorated institution, globally, in this year’s highly prestigious international RSA competition.

The Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) Student Design Awards is one of the oldest and most-respected international student design competitions, challenging students to apply their skills and creativity to tackle current social and environmental issues. Entrants are challenged to think about the role their design can have in society and asked to think of themselves as the instigators of change. Past winners of the accolade include former Apple chief design officer Jony Ive, so our award winning graduates are in truly remarkable company!

Other successes include two D&AD pencils (which celebrate creative excellence in design and advertising), the Brown Thomas Designer to Watch Bursary Award, eight HSE Design on the Frontline challenge shortlists, and the international Service Design Award.

The School of Design at NCAD offers the most comprehensive range of design education on the island of Ireland, with the students working within and beyond graphics, fashion, illustration, interaction, jewellery, medical devices, moving image, product, service and textile & surface design. The diversity and ambition of work on show demonstrates the potential of design in all its forms to address complex challenges, explore new possibilities and unlock innovative ways to meet the needs of people and our planet.

I am immensely proud to introduce the next generation of NCAD educated designers and changemakers.

Professor Alex Milton
Head of the School of Design