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The Design Department at Cornish provides a small, personal studio environment, with a focus on demanding conceptual projects that support exploration and creative risk-taking. The curriculum is based on visual, technical, and conceptual investigations. These will lead to new approaches to communicate information, envision environments, and new forms for storytelling. Students will also learn to promote ideas and messages, explore graphics in motion, and discover new interactive experiences and visual forms for entertainment.

Introduction to Cornish – Design

The department integrates professional engagement with community involvement into the curriculum. The faculty is composed of active working professionals in the Seattle community and the Department Advisory Committee provides ongoing advice about the programs. The wider professional community is involved through studio projects based on actual client projects in the students’ junior and senior years.

These activities include inviting guest designers to class critiques; lunchtime and evening guest speakers; field trips; extra-curricular group projects; internships; student exhibitions; student interest groups; and active links with professional associations such as the AIGA, IIDA, and ASID. The classroom studios mimic the professional environment. Every student works at a drafting table with a personal laptop connected to a range of digital peripherals. Senior students have a personal studio space for their final year.


Interior Design

The Interior Design curriculum provides an educational setting that enables students to develop into analytic creators and transformers of space. Working with a sophisticated understanding of spatial and visual elements, students apply their knowledge to all places in which people live, work, and play while respecting the culture, history, and the environment of the place.

Interior designers create innovative interiors for existing buildings and work alongside architects in the development of new structures. Interior design affects the use of the space and the health, safety, and welfare of the inhabitants. Interior designers strive for functional improvement, visual enhancement, and social and psychological enrichment of interior spaces. In conjunction with these considerations, interior design decisions are informed by the environmental impact of fabricating a space based on material and industrial developments. Alumni have professional opportunities to enter design positions in interior design firms, architecture companies, kitchen and bath companies, and in-house corporate design groups. They may also work as fabric and carpet design developers or as independent design contractors.

Motion Design

The Motion Design curriculum provides an educational environment that encourages students to become innovative thinkers for a complex media environment. Students develop in-depth approaches to such varied fields as 2D and 3D video graphics, animation, gaming, web development, and interactive presentations.

As media continue to emerge, the field demands sophisticated designers who can navigate the new and expanding territory. From the interface on a mobile phone to the graphics that define the look of a music video or computer game, every piece of media in our world is someone’s design challenge and innovation. The Internet, television, and video games are bonding into new formations and creating hybrid media that as of yet are inconceivable. As the Internet becomes more sophisticated, so do the opportunities for designers who are comfortable with the multidisciplinary demands of networked technologies. Alumni have professional opportunities to enter design positions within interactive design companies, motion graphics firms, game development companies, animation firms, television stations, or film production companies.

Visual Communication Design

The Visual Communication Design curriculum provides the educational environment that enables students to develop into exceptional communicators with visual language. In today’s saturated media context, almost all ideas are presented visually through image and text. Every organization, such as businesses, schools, theaters, restaurants, and community groups, has a visual identity created by a designer.

Designs range from complex transit systems that appear as simple maps and schedules to packaging with detailed ingredient lists for every item in a grocery store. The ubiquitous male/female icons for restrooms were designed, as were all the other signs that help people navigate the everyday environment. People identify themselves with issues, causes, and cultures by wearing symbols that were designed like the peace symbol, sports emblems, or wristbands. Ideas presented in books, graphic novels, magazines, and newspapers are designed through the selection, creation, and use of typography, illustrations, images, publication formats, and even the selection of paper. Visual Communication Design focuses on the visual interpretation of ideas, information, and messages. Alumni have professional opportunities to enter design positions within design firms; magazine, book, comic, and newspaper publishing; strategic branding companies; in-house corporate design and communication departments; printing companies; or to develop independent illustration and design practices.