Q: What kinds of courses do you have?
A: We offer courses in sustainable design, human-centered design, industrial design, furniture design, lighting design, materials and methods, computer aided design and prototyping in the Design Department. For more detail, view the list of courses associated with this lab.

Q: This lab sounds super ambitious. What makes you think you’ll be able to be successful?
A: We believe in making lots of small bets and exploring deeply. The diverse interests of our faculty help foster the varied interests of our students. We also believe that we can’t do this alone. The “lab” is committed to partnerships across the University and with communities around the globe. And finally, we believe that many of the solutions to our challenges are still out there. We believe in helping students and citizens to realize and implement them.

Q: Why are you called a Product Design Lab?
A: We believe the best strategies come in the form of tangible representations. All that to say, the proof is in the pudding. We have a deep emphasis on making. As products expand to include not just things but the relationships between things, services and interactions, we believe that “product design” is the best term to encompass this dynamic area.

Q: What if I just want to make cool, plastic s#*%?
A: You’ll certainly learn the skills for how to make desirable products, but we stress designing for social responsibility as well.

Q: Does the “lab” come from a particular school of thought?
A: The faculty in the lab come from a variety of backgrounds, but we are aligned in that we all believe in using ecological, human-centered and social good design principles.

Q: So this is a lab, do you have equipment?
A: Sure do. We have prototyping equipment and fabrication facilities right now, and we are expanding our space to include a revamped woodshop, metal shop, clean shop and maker space. All of this will help empower students to transform ideas into tangible objects and experiences.

Q: Sounds cool, when will that be done?
A: The renovation is scheduled to be completed by Fall 2020.

Q: What if I’ll graduate before then? Is there anything I can do?
A: Absolutely. We’ll still have a fully functioning woodshop and access to lots of maker spaces on campus. As an added bonus, you’ll also have a chance to influence the future of this exciting new endeavor.

Q: What have your students done so far?
A: Our undergraduate and graduate students do collaborative research projects and national competitions outside the studio that have been exhibited and recognized nationwide such as the Solar Decathlon, Big Ideas Competition, SOFA Connect, ISEA, and Resilience by Design Competition. Cross department collaborative research opportunities and the proximity to the product design community in the Bay Area and Sacramento is a huge strength to our location.

Q: That do-gooder stuff sounds good and all, but will the Product Design Lab help me have a lucrative career?
A: Yeah, we had student loans too. We believe that doing good and making a good living aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, we believe that the capabilities you develop as a designer at UC Davis will be a competitive advantage as challenges of sustainability and global co-operation become more central. We also have connections to the school of management and strongly believe in entrepreneurship.