As the College prepares to launch its new B.F.A. in Product Design this fall, it is pleased to announce renowned educator and designer Leslie Speer as the program's inaugural chair. A recipient of the prestigious Educator of the Year award from the Industrial Designers Society of America in 2009, Speer previously taught industrial design at San José State University and was the assistant chair in industrial design at the California College of the Arts. She also brings years of experience as a commercial designer for DuPont, Philips, Oracle/Sun Microsystems and Frog Design, among others.
Building on the success of MICA alumni who are currently working as product designers at Under Armour, Hasbro, Matter.io and BamBam Prosthetics, Speer aims to build the program around interdisciplinary and sustainable thinking, with a teaching philosophy that emphasizes entrepreneurial intelligence and the concept of the social good. Teaching product design as more than just an artistic practice, Speer hopes to show that design can be a meaningful tool for social change and strengthening communities.
"The future of design is less about importance of the corporation, and more about the power an individual can have in the connected world we live in. Designers will be the creators and the manufacturers, but supported with tomorrow's technologies for sourcing, production and distribution," said Speer. "MICA is set to be the leader in this development-the designer as innovator, collaborator, maker, manufacturer and distributor."
Speer has incorporated this philosophy into her professional life as a consultant in developing regions in countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica, China and Cameroon, where she applied design methodology to create economic programs to support and stabilize artisans and rural farmers.
Product Design will be housed in MICA's new Dolphin Design Center, a state-of-the-art learning hub and interdisciplinary space that will include research and prototype labs, 3D printing and fabrication facilities and other technology-rich spaces. The building is scheduled to open for the fall 2017 semester and will also be home to the Game Design, Interactive Arts and Architectural Design B.F.A. programs.