Cornish views design as a collection of practices, and our students explore a full spectrum of skills and techniques. Here students will find the tools needed to express their own views and visions, as well as increase digital literacy, learn about systems-thinking, define and solve problems, and increase awareness of the social and cultural implications of design.
Letter from the Design Chair
It is a great time to be a designer today! At Cornish, we develop 360 degree professionals with broad and transferrable skills. Designers work in a variety of ways today, from graphic novelists and illustrators, to UX designers and Interior Architects. The common thread is the design thinking that designers use to structure creative problem solving and conceptual thinking.
I am excited by Cornish’s new and robust expansion to our college campus and our curriculum. Our renovation of many of our downtown campus buildings and a new Residence Hall are symbolic of the way we are innovating our curriculums. At this 100th year of the college, we continue to embrace Nellie Cornish’ s original vision of innovative creative programs.
Cornish’s Design department is evolving it’s program to be relevant in the new digital economy. Innovative programs require staying dynamic and responsive to changing social environments. The many practices that are defining the design discipline is expanding to become participatory, user experience based and multi dimensional.
We are developing a student centered curriculum integrating Humanities and sciences and Critical and Contextual studies. Research led and theme based projects will give students the holistic education that reflects current professional settings at the same time giving them a well rounded education.
Welcome to Design
Design is moving faster than ever. As the connected world gets more complex, it demands designers who are able to work across platforms and technologies, seamlessly interweaving print, media, user-experiences and the markets they serve.
Cornish Design has always kept up with changes in technology and culture, but this year it has launched a curricular plan that goes beyond "responding to change" and gives our students the tools they need to lead innovation, rather than merely adapt to it.
Cornish Design offers a student-centered education, currently enrolling 133 students. Our department is small enough to work with every student personally, and we support each student’s particular range of talents. First, students develop the time-honored foundational skills: drawing, 2D fundamentals, and 3D fabrication. Then, while using the most current in digital tools, they incorporate design history, semiotic and systems analysis, and design thinking into their skill-sets.
A solid design education is an exceptional long-term investment. The ways we facilitate problem-solving strategies in our students ensures that they are able to “pivot” and act quickly and intelligently in our evolving world. Cornish designers never grow stale, because they are not trained according to a single agenda or one way of approaching problems. They learn design as a way of thought that is resilient to the converging of different domains of professional practices. The cross-concentration development of our program and conceptual approach is what makes Cornish a unique educational experience.
Design Areas of Study
Design students begin their study as freshmen with the new combined Art, Design, Film + Media Foundation year, giving them basic skills needed excel in our three concentrations listed above. This first year—a year of project-based learning—hones the student’s skills with work that deals with topics ranging from designing for social change to conceptualizing future worlds.
In the sophomore year, the student declares a concentration— Either Design: Visual Communications and/or Motion, or Interior Architecture. That’s when important building blocks get into place: digital skills, basic foundational thinking in the concentration’s area of expertise, and the beginnings of critical and systems thinking. Junior year is more independent as students develop individual capabilities and take part in our program’s exceptional internship opportunities. Juniors go deeper into what they find most valuable in design, tapping the resources that our department has to offer. Finally, the senior year focuses on a culminating capstone project—the Degree Project—in which all of the student’s skills in honing design process, systems thinking, creative planning, and hand and digital skills come together in an exhibition at the end of the year. Through their four years as a part of Cornish Design, guided and mentored by a faculty made up of award-winning, practicing designers, students master the tools and skills needed to become working designers. Perhaps just as important, they have thought about design’s role in the world and their responsibility to that world and to their own talent and well-being.
The Interior Architecture curriculum provides an educational setting that enables students to develop into analytic creators and transformers of space. The practice of Interior Architecture creates innovative interiors for existing buildings and integrative design collaborations with architects in the development of new structures, including Living Systems Architecture. Today, the emerging field of Interior Architects strives for economic-collaborative design thinking, as it relates to functional improvement, visual enhancement, and social and psychologically shaped spaces in which we live.
We've divided Design into three major areas: narrative design, informative design, and responsive design. Starting in 2015, our students will explore these three areas by making work around a chosen theme in each five-week chunk of the semester. Through hands-on projects, instructor-led workshops and lectures, mentorships, internships and the advantage of online skill-learning resources, our students will learn to think their way through change, and develop the sense of personal agency that lies at the heart of every successful designer.
Design Faculty & Staff
Our Cornish design faculty consists of professional designers and educators who create an academic environment strongly rooted in both design practice and theory. Our core faculty, Susan Boye, Tiffany Laine DeMott, Natalia Ilyin, Jacob Kohn, and Julie Myers, embodies our departmental belief in providing a convergent design education that provokes innovation while underscoring social consciousness.
Our adjunct faculty is drawn from some of Seattle’s most recognized firms: Robynne Raye is one of the co-owners of Modern Dog; Elizabeth Gordon represents the talent to be found at Mithun: Jennifer Milliron and CJ Brockway hail from NBBJ, Tobey Wray is at Starbucks, Emily Hooper is at EMP, Jim Catel is at HBO, Scott Mayhew is at ArenaNet, and Mark Kornblum is at Substantial. Cornish is also home to many well respected independent designers including, Dan Shafer and Ricky Castro Wendy Quesinberry, Marisa Mangum, graphic novelist Ellen Forney, illustrators Esther Loopstra, Junichi Tsuneoka and Stephanie Bower, book artist Jenny Sapora, designers, and animator Tony White, as well as others.