Inside

Paul Puskarich

MA Design Products, 2014–

I arrived at the Royal College of Art after following a path in science and engineering, pursuing degrees in electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I then worked as a hardware designer in the consumer electronics industry, creating technologies for new products, all in a science and engineering capacity. After six years, I was interested in working on broader aspects of products.

I chose to do an MA in design because I was curious to explore new challenges and different perspectives. I’d known about the reputation and history of the RCA, and I was aware of Design Products because of the programme’s alumni who are now working in the design industry. There was a nice combination of traditional industrial design practice and artistic creativity, and that seems to be unique to the RCA.

I’m from the US, and I wanted to make sure that I was learning in all capacities, so academically, but also culturally and socially. Of course, there’s a general interest in art and design in London that makes the city unique. Living in a new country has allowed me to learn about others and about myself. The student body here is the most diverse I’ve seen, and everyone brings a new perspective, which is enriching and constantly surprising.

Since coming to the College, I have enjoyed opportunities to experiment with design approaches, materials and processes. I have been able to consider my work in different contexts and to collaborate with MA students from Sculpture, Painting, Textiles, and Ceramics & Glass. I’ve tried to collaborate as much as possible. The breadth of programmes at the RCA is another unique aspect and I find conversations with other artists and designers really enriching. Hearing how they approach a topic and their train of thought in tackling a new topic is a really interesting learning experience. We’re all able to teach each other new things.

Most memorably, I have had invaluable experiences with my classmates in the design studio – a special community, where new ideas are encouraged, enriched and critiqued. My experience of studying science and engineering was much more prescribed, or described, in terms of certain kinds of outcomes, requirements and rigid rules. The freedom of topic and freedom of outcome at the RCA has been really liberating. That's been exciting but also challenging. Everyone here sets the bar for themselves very high, and the College is there as a support structure and a source of inspiration. Friends and classmates have been invaluable in pushing each other along.

I believe my background has been helpful in developing my design process. My training in engineering sharpened my focus in problem solving, and studying the sciences established my sense of scale in nature and manufacture. My technical background influences my work by enabling me to express my passion for exploring materials and processes. Curiosity is the heart of my practice and the MA in Product Design provides an environment where I can think carefully and be inspired to create products that serve real needs – beautiful and useful products that make us smile and dream.

The freedom of topic and freedom of outcome at the RCA has been really liberating. That's been exciting but also challenging. Everyone here sets the bar for themselves very high, and the College is there as a support structure and a source of inspiration.