After a long time of e-mailing and discussing different options I recently got invited to Umeå for a visit to the legendary institute of design. UID is a school that is one of the best in the world at what they do. And what they do is educate students on ba-level in industrial design and on ma-level in advanced product design, transportation design and interaction design. All of these three have very thought through and strong focuses and they work in close cooperation with the industry. Read more about UID here

UID have been in many industrial designers dreams through the years, including mine so it was a great experience to finally get to see and experience it. I was very well taken cared of by both staff and students at the ma transportation program, getting the grand tour and being shown some benchmark portfolios.

So did it fulfil my expectations? Yes it did. UID was everything I expected it to be. Transportation design was filled to the brim with talented people that spent many years perfecting their sketching, rendering and modelling techniques. The studios was busy and filled with students working hard on their projects and the empty desks was only signs of the ones doing their internships.

To be honest I left UID kind of crushed. The things I saw there were amazing and on a level that I cant’t compare to. But that would be comparing myself and my education to the education at UID, and that would not be fair to either me or them. They spend their five years of education in classes where everyones goal is transportation and getting the tools needed, i.e. sketching, rendering, proportion, modelling et cetera. The result of this being that when they graduate they are amazing in that field. In the education me and my classmates got however the emphasis was not on the technique or a specific product. Not even on a specific field but more on a philosophy that can be applied to the field that you focus on.

”Round about us we see a growing need for a more border-crossing perspective in design activities in which cooperation beyond the limits of subject and competence is necessary to meet future challenges. This is why we have created a Master’s Programme in design without traditional division between design specializations.

You apply to only one programme in design. Within the framework of the programme you will have opportunities of immersing yourself in specific fields of design such as for example graphic design, product design, industrial design and interior design.” -HDK

This gives us the possibility to work with any product, service, experience or whatever it might be and have a deeper knowledge in the different aspects of sustainability, ability to think outside the box and asking the questions that needs to be asked. That’s what’s going  to give us the edge in future work environments. I also believe that this form of education makes us very flexible in the way we see, think about, deconstruct, develop and then deliver the design-case given to us. It is my strong belief that if we’re given the chance we can change design and how others think about it.

So to sum up this experience then. Umeå Institute of Design was a magnificent place. Some things were different from the schools I went to but just as much was very similar. The focus, the pride and the love for design was there and that everyone was feeling very privileged to be there. Right after my visit I felt down and inspired at the same time by the impressive things I saw there. But the more distance I got to the visit, the more I realised that it’s hard to compare with them if you only measure sketching skills because you’re going to loose. However if you put into perspective what we’re good at versus what they’re good at you first of all see the difference in focus and then you see that we’re going to need a bit of their knowledge, and they will need some ours. We will see where and how I aquire this UID-esque knowledge but one thing is clear. I will need a little bit of schooling but the most important thing is the mileage your pen gets.

Nothing is changing but everything is changed.

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