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Today, the influence of industrial design (ID) is expanding beyond the traditional field of physical modelling. However, ID students seem to struggle to cope with the changing trends of society under the traditional curriculum of design education. Even with this mismatch between ID education and the design industry, not many studies made connections between ID educationand the design industry to understand how design students transfer their knowledge into the professional field of design. Despite the lack of literature on the bridge between ID education and the design industry, many studies emphasized the critique environment as an essential pedagogical space for design education and its foundational knowledge generation.

Therefore, this study aims to explore the ID students’ knowledge application in professional areas through reviewing the critique environment. Two research questions formed around the research aim: (1) what knowledge gained from critique helps and hinders recent graduates’ performance in the design industry? and (2) how accurately does the critique environment portray the professional design field? With a qualitative approach, the study conducted in-depth interviews with major stakeholders of industrial design in the US.

The study suggests that critique experience supports the identity formation of design students. In contrast, it hinders coworking with non-design fields due to weak understanding of the cross-functional culture in the design industry. Additionally, the study indicated systematic complexities existed in a collaboration between higher education institutions and companies in the US, which inhibit the active involvement of professional insights in academic critique. The study concludes by highlighting strategies to improve the critique experience of industrial design students and further support a successful transition after graduation.

© Sejin Hwang