Product designers combine science, design and technology to develop new or improve existing products that focus on innovative and responsive solutions for sustainable human development.
Product designers' integral focus is on process, taking concepts and ideas to completion by analyzing and implementing product designs from manufacturing to distribution. Whether identifying underserved, existing opportunities in the global market or innovating new products to fill people's needs, product designers are the leaders of tomorrow.
Who Studies Product Design?
Applicants to design programs come from diverse backgrounds and age groups. You may be applying to the Product Design program as a graduate from high school, or you may be transferring from another KPU program, or from another institution, or you may be a design professional, wanting to upgrade your credentials. We'd be delighted to receive your application and discuss your possible educational pathway with you.
Perhaps your background includes an active interest in recreation, sports, dance, special occupations or an ambition to improve the design of items related to these pursuits. Or, perhaps you are an entrepreneur wanting to improve the quality of life for groups under-represented by product design. Your creative skills might be in drawing, painting, photography, computer graphics, sculpture, crafts and other 3D work. You might simply be inventive and enjoy making gadgets and taking them apart. Whatever your profile, you are likely to be a risk-taker, problem-solver, willing to push boundaries, able to work independently and in teams, and engage in a rigorous design education.
It is strongly recommended that you have basic skills in English communication, word processing, basic mathematics, plus an awareness of product design, with ideas about how to improve current products and processes – in Canada and internationally.
Because of the varied profiles of our applicants, we will work with you to construct an educational pathway suitable to your goals. Our aim is to ensure that your time at KPU is enriching and enjoyable.
Department's website: kpu.ca/productdesign
Product design is an evolving design field. Locally, however, there are many very successful companies in Vancouver, known around the world for excellence in recreational and technical gear. There are also many opportunities that students might consider, overseas, in countries noted for manufacture of these items.
Upon graduation, you will have produced an extensive portfolio of innovative work, including a major research and development project that combines all the skills and knowledge necessary for this field. You would be prepared for such careers as:
- Product designer
- Industrial designer
- Product developer
- Product buyer
- Product production supervisor
- Environmental designer
- Packaging designer
You could work independently as a consultant, an entrepreneur, as a staff designer for an existing design studio, retailer, or manufacturer.
Registration in some course sections is restricted to students in particular programs. See Timetables - kpu.ca/registration/timetables - for current section information.
Visit the BC Transfer Guide - bctransferguide.ca - for information about course transfer in B.C.
Students will be introduced to properties, potential, and the language of materials. They will learn about the processes of manufacturing and assembly that are used in product design. Students will develop insight into how materials behave and how information and understanding are used to guide design, decision-making in relationship to these materials and processes. They will explore materiality in developing design outcomes through a series of lectures, projects and workshops.
Students will develop fundamental skills in visualization for product design (sketching, drawing, and rendering). They will apply theories, concepts, methods and materials comprehending how these hand visualization techniques are integral to the design process; how drawing is a means to an end, for example: communicating and analyzing ideas, simplifying complex problems and processes, persuading clients, manufacturers and users, and providing technical information about construction, assembly and use. Students will transfer these visualization skills to project work.
Students will be introduced to a number of strategies related to the design of products, such as methods of rational analysis and synthesis, formal design paradigms drawn from history, strategies for developing concepts, and making products meaningful to user groups. They will be introduced to the relationship of design thinking to the process of design. Students will understand the use of a diverse set of tools deployable within different design contexts or at different stages in the design process. They will use various techniques for exploring and representing design ideas to provide a foundation for future expertise in designing. Students will explore hybrid-thinking models through interdisciplinary actions that will provide a framework for leadership in their discipline.
Students will apply creative and innovative problem-solving skills to comprehensive three- dimensional design projects focusing on product design, such as sportswear and accessories, protective and safety gear, rescue apparel, uniforms, and shelters. Students will expand their knowledge of materials, processes, and methods as well as three-dimensional modeling and prototyping techniques, along with presentation methods relating to industrial product production.
Prerequisite(s): DEPD 1100
Students will learn the fundamentals of digital manufacturing technologies using industry standard software, with a focus on computer-aided design (CAD) for product design. Students will learn to create and develop design ideas from data using three-dimensional modeling software. Students will extend their prior knowledge of computer applications to create and present innovative product designs geared to production. They will develop and explore generative design processes to produce virtual 3D products.
Students will examine basic computer hardware and software concepts, and the Internet, in relation to product design. They will use word processing and spreadsheet software to develop solutions for design and business problems. Students will explore the 2D and 3D capabilities of using various tools and techniques. They will design and build compositions to create print materials.
Students will learn fundamental techniques and methods of construction technology related to soft materials for applications in product design. They will produce reference samples focusing on technical and production aspects of design projects. Students will become proficient in: industrial sewing techniques, patternmaking methods and applications, and textile selection for a variety of pliable materials, both natural and synthetic.
Students will explore concepts, materials, and fastening components appropriate to product design. They will apply critical thinking and creative problem-solving processes to explore and experiment with multiple combinations of materials, assembling and affixing technologies. Students will document their findings for future reference, and present the results of their explorations.
Prerequisite(s): 30 credits from courses at the 1100 level or higher
Co-requisite(s): DEPD 2320
Students will investigate the technical aspects of soft materials in relation to product design. They will explore the profiles of natural and synthetic materials, including: classification, specification, structure, measurement, and performance. They will seek new uses and applications for soft materials, and consider environmental and technological factors appropriate to product design.
Prerequisite(s): 30 credits from courses at the 1100 level or higher
Co-requisite(s): DEPD 2310
Students will be introduced to the complexities of societal threats and opportunities that affect design. They will understand the transformative nature of design that exists in a dynamic context. Students will study areas, such as cultural change, globalization, sustainability and technological advances, that will likely impact the design professions over the next decade.
Prerequisite(s): 12 credits from courses at the 1100 level or higher
Students will develop an understanding of ergonomics and human factors within the context of designing highly effective recreational and technical apparel and related soft products. They will research the relationship between product design and user needs for comfort, safety, well-being, and performance. They will explore methods for developing detailed user profiles and system requirements, and for evaluating design alternatives relative to functional and task variables; human needs, capabilities and limitations.
Prerequisite(s): 12 credits from courses at the 1100 level or higher.
Students will further explore concepts, materials, and components, in response to specific criteria for diverse contexts in product design. They will apply critical thinking and creative problem-solving processes in exploring solutions that allow for products to be used differently and more effectively. Students will incorporate relevant socio-cultural, human factor research, and technologies into their design exercises, and present their process and results.
Co-requisite(s): DEPD 2420
Students will study various levels of production technology in product design. They will investigate and compare the principles and processes of current production and manufacturing requirements, and consider the limitations and comparative costs involved in forming materials to the required specifications (e.g. shape, size, and finish). Students will explore new resourceful and sustainable applications of production for product design.
Co-requisite(s): DEPD 2410
Students will consider essential concepts, theories and methods related to cultural issues and how these might impact the design of soft products. They will engage in critical thinking and creative problem-solving activities related to local, regional, and global issues, such as: social structures, economics, politics, gender, ethnicity, class and age; environment, sustainability and ethical practices.
Prerequisite(s): 12 credits from courses at the 2000 level or higher.
Students will respond to design briefs and engage in rigorously researching the design of soft goods products for leisure and sports gear. They will critically analyze existing and potential consumer markets, including under-represented demographic groups, with the aim of creatively improving such aspects as function, performance and comfort of products. Students will incorporate interdisciplinary knowledge and technologies into project work.
Co-requisite(s): DEPD 3520
Students will study sourcing as a major aspect of production technology in soft product design. They will create specifications that include: sizing/grading, product measurements, bills of materials to gather components, vendor information, critical paths, and efficient, lean manufacturing techniques.
Co-requisite(s): DEPD 3510
Students will reflect on the relationship between semiotics (the study of sign systems) and product design. They will analyze major theories and current discourse to explore how signs and symbols, codes and conventions are used to convey meaning in the marketplace. Students will investigate the types of messages soft goods products communicate in different contexts.
Prerequisite(s): 15 credits from courses at the 2000 level or higher.
Students will further their skills in responding critically and creatively to designing protective gear for dangerous, and unpredictable contexts, e.g. search and rescue, law enforcement, health and safety, and military activities. They will confer with users and critically analyze their needs, with the aim of innovatively and economically improving such aspects as, function, performance and comfort. Students will consider the manufacturing requirements in the development of their solutions.
Students will study production operations management and process sequencing. They will assess existing examples of product design to analyze the steps required in prototype manufacturing, evaluating the compatibility of materials with the design concept and end use. Students will connect with industry in order to develop a critical manufacturing path relevant to soft product manufacturing.
Co-requisite(s): DEPD 3610
Students will initiate and complete a faculty-approved, industry-related practicum relevant to product design and manufacture evidence of the practical knowledge gained and its potential application.
Prerequisite(s): 30 credits of 2000 level courses or higher
Students will synthesize their knowledge and skills, by completing feasibility studies of a major industry-related project that highlights their personal abilities in product design. They will engage in rigorous research, brainstorm and test ideas, and propose strategies for future development. Students will probe and justify the economic viability, environmental impact, and the technologies required for realization. Students will make professional presentations about their feasibility studies to the university and the community.
Co-requisite(s): DEPD 4720
Students will analyze the relationship between soft products and business scenarios. They will analyze circumstances from a global perspective in relation to today’s economy. They will study international trade agreements and the legality of trade, and integrate socio-political factors into their research. Students will envision a business scenario, including product development, business supply chain, along with market research and cost estimates.
Students will produce a final prototype of their major, industry-related project in product design. They will respond to research completed previously, by advancing and implementing their design strategies. Students will integrate interdisciplinary content; technological advances; specify appropriate manufacturing processes; estimate the economic viability; predict the environmental and ethical impacts of their design decisions. They will demonstrate and defend their solution through comprehensive presentations, documents, to the university and the community.
Students will practice professional business and leadership skills relevant to engagement in the product design profession. They will prepare themselves with appropriate knowledge, skills and tools, e.g. resumes, business proposals, portfolios and other documents typically required in business and manufacturing environments. Students will discuss business procedures, marketing plans, financial management, fee proposals and contracts, intellectual property issues, government regulations, ethical and professional liability issues.
Co-requisite(s): DEPD 4810
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