University of Architecture or Design schools?

How many of you faced up this dilemma? Take me for example; I left Italy for my journey to Pasadena (CA), precisely to attend Art Center College of Design. However, before leaving my parents (and myself) were confronted with this problem: University of Architecture or Design College? In my case (Transportation Design), the choice has been easier, my field was too defined. However, in case of Industrial/Graphic/Advertising/Interior/ Design it is not so easy to make a choice.

Because it is a cultural problem especially for European countries with strong, classical cultural roots like Italy, France, Spain…

When I started to work as designer in Italy (1989) I had many colleagues that had a degree in Architecture et/or Engineering…only few of us (new young designers) were coming from four Design Colleges (2 ACCD, 1 Pforzheim and 1 ISIA).
When I started to teach Transportation Design courses in Italy (IAAD Turin, 1991-1994 & IED Turin, 1994-2000) I had many students that during the daytime where following courses at the Faculty of Architecture and in the evening where following our Design courses to keep alive their dream about becoming designers. Their parents accepted to send them to Design school only if they would promise to get a degree in Architecture or Engineering.
You can imagine the amount of work and pressure those guys were going through naturally jeopardizing the quality of both courses…in fact; only few of them today have both degrees and are currently working as professional designers: Fulvio Fantolino is one of those.
Architect (Degree at Faculty in Turin) and Transportation Designer (Degree at IAAD Turin). Fulvio Fantolino is founder and owner of F&F Design Studio in Turin, and has a good panel of clients between Car Design/ Industrial Design/ Interior Design.

Since 1991, many things changed in better in the Design school environment and organizations, if at that time there was still little trust for a “Design degree”…today things are a lot better.
The Design schools have strong possibilities to help students to find a job thanks to their ties with the Industry world, for those that have the ambition to become Transportation or Industrial designers there is no doubt about choosing a design school Vs Architecture University.
The programs and methods are completely different between the two organisms and even if following a Design school means often to spend real money…I believe it is an investment for the future.

I would like to conclude giving a suggestion to all those young future design students:
Before you take your decision please take your parents with you to visit the Design school, let them discover the model shop, the labs, the computer lab, the classes, visit the gallery, understand the program year by year, control the Companies involved with that school, check if there are positive articles written about it, and once that everything seems to be smooth just GO FOR IT!

I hope you found this post interesting and useful.

Photo: Art Center College of Design Pasadena, CA

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  • Joel
    October 22, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    I find it similar with other Degree Courses offered by different universities and schools. Your suggestion is appropriate 🙂

    By the way, are your from Italy?

  • Joel
    October 24, 2007 at 6:27 am

    Nice meeting you! and nice to you that you are also a fan of AC Milan!


  • Anonymous
    July 3, 2008 at 9:57 am

    helo Luciano,

    I do agree with ur opinion on this matter.So does the design approaches and environment in different countries like US, UK, European and Scandanavian.

    In you case, u were already grown up in great design environment like Italy…and gained exposures from US..that were just great.
    Like me, industrial design is still new and many of us in Malaysia(F1 and KLCC) have to further studies overseas to gain exposure outside.

    Among all places, i chose Italy to pursue my masters study in Industrial Design and hope to get place to do my PHD in Germany.I will be coming to Milan this september to do my masters@ SPD. i already apply to enter Politecnico Di MIlano..but fail to get admitted there..huhuhu.. 🙁

    Which part of Italy do you stay..I hope i can get more knowledge and info about Italy from you.

    I would like to be ur penpal if u dont mind.
    my email : zakiyahs_9983@yahoo.com
    feel free to chat via YM.

    tk cr then.
    Grazie. 🙂

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