IIT Institute of Design (ID) is a graduate design school with a history of innovation. We pioneered the development and dissemination of modern design from our founding in 1937 as the New Bauhaus in Chicago. In the 1960s, ID became a center of the first design methods movement and developed tools for structured planning. Our faculty were among the first to apply computers to design. In the early 1990s, ID helped pioneer the human-centered approach to design that has become a standard of design practice. Later in the 1990s we offered the first strategic design program that linked the creation of user value to economic value. This included frameworks and methods that enabled organizations to focus on “what to make” before working on “how to make”. We teach ethnography and other social science research methods as part of the design process. In the early 2000s, ID helped launch the design thinking movement, linking design more closely to business innovation.

Experimentation, rigorous methods, human-centeredness, and strategy support our current focus of preparing individuals and organizations to take on the world’s complex, fast-changing, and unpredictable problems such as competitiveness, digital media and learning, health and wellbeing, social innovation and more. These global challenges influence the well being of  individuals, societies and the planet.

The world’s need for innovation is intense. Yet, the traditional approach focuses on measuring current operations. While that is great for improving the efficiency of what you’re already doing it does not lead to disruptive innovation. On the other hand, the traditional approach of art-school design programs focuses on individual creativity. The art school approach is hit-or-miss and ill-equipped to address the daunting challenges the world faces. What’s needed is a third way—rigor and creativity—a methods-based, human-centered approach to global challenges. That’s what IIT Institute of Design offers.

“And in the Top Two of any list of schools of creativity would be IIT’s Institute of Design in Chicago. If you are in business and want people who know how to strategize in a complex and uncertain world, you want graduates of ID. If you want people who know innovation policy and strategy, you want ID grads.”
Bruce Nussbaum, Design Observer

This approach attracts people from around the world. Talented designers and those from other fields come for the rigorous programs integrating design methodology with other disciplines.  It attracts faculty who conduct sponsored research and are advisors to leaders of companies and government agencies. This work not only helps these organizations, it builds a body of knowledge that improves their teaching and creates contacts for students. Executives attend our short courses, such as Design Camp, and conferences to learn how this third way can prepare them to lead in a world with  new types of challenges.