Color & Materials Design

Fall Semester - Year 1

CMD601Color & Materials Studio I3
CMD605Color Lab3
CMD604Trend Research Methods3
DGR613Graduate Seminar3
CMD609Digital Visualization for Color and Materials Design 3
Studio Elective

Winter Semester - Year 1

CMD602Color & Materials Studio II3
CMD606Materials Lab3
DGR620Graduate Research Methods3
DGR721Professional Practice 13
Studio Elective

Fall Semester - Year 2

CMD701Color & Materials Studio III3
DGR711Graduate Thesis I6
DGR631Written Thesis3
CMD607Applied Material and Processes3

Winter Semester - Year 2

CMD702Color & Materials Studio IV3
DGR 712Graduate Thesis II6
DGR722Professional Practice II3
Studio Elective3

First Year


Colors & Materials Studio I

Students are introduced to the role of color and materials design within the larger design process and learn how to use color and materials design to engage and connect with consumers and audiences, across a broad range of applications. Occasionally this course is in collaboration with other departments.

Color Lab

Color is relative. Our perceptions of color always depend on what colors abut or surround it. Students will engage in a series of explorations of the interaction of color to develop an understanding of the elusive behavior of color and how to most effectively employ it in any medium. Students will acquire the vocabulary needed to discuss how color is behaving in any
context and to challenge, understand, and express their own evolving color sensibility.

Trend Research Methods

The ability to understand how to research trends and integrate key insights and findings effectively into the design development process is vital to a color and materials designer’s ability to apply the appropriate emphasis to CMF strategies. Students learn how to translate trends into thoughtful and persuasive arguments that are viable in a business context.

Graduate Seminar 

Graduate Seminar aims to enable students to undertake rich and robust creative exploration that is informed by contextual and critical inquiry. Graduate Seminar serves to advance both the critical inquiry and critical writing skills of students, and enable the cross-referencing of theory to practice. Social, political, economic, and environmental themes will be used to inform weekly classes.

Digital Visualization for Color and Materials Design *

This elective course is an advanced digital visualizations course that will prepare students to be able to apply color, materials and finish concepts to a range of products and by doing so visualize their final concepts and produce compelling presentations at a professionally competent level that visually articulate the design intent.

* This 3-credit Color and Materials Design elective will be recommended for some students.

Studio Elective

Students will choose an elective course.


Color & Materials Studio II: 

In this course, students explore the role of the CMF designer in building emotional connections with customers, audiences and brands. Through research and making, students will research, ideate and develop relevant color and materials strategies for a product line. They will realize their ideas using both physical and digital tools.

Materials Lab

In Materials Lab students engage in a series of experiments that examine material properties and ways to explore the familiar and unfamiliar as new surfaces and forms are developed. The course supports the student in developing and innovating ideas using both proven and non-traditional techniques. In 2020, students in Material Lab participated in the Biodesign Challenge 2020 competition and were recognized as Overall Winner for their project Zebra Glass. 

Graduate Research Methods

The Graduate Research Methods course equips students with the knowledge and skills required to undertake a range of advanced research methodologies appropriate to contemporary creative practice and critical inquiry in art and design, from ethnography and interviews to phenomenology and critical performance. Using a wide range of primary and secondary sources students will learn to critically explore and evaluate art and design research practices.

Professional Practice 1 

Part A provides a cross-disciplinary overview of the arts and creative industries and their importance to GDP and the economy overall, i.e. the creative economy. Students will strengthen their understanding of the broader business of creativity and arena of culture in which they will operate professionally.
Part B allows students to make a plan to address gaps in their resume, prepare their portfolios, and refine their oral presentation.


Students will choose an elective course.

Second Year


Color & Materials Studio III

Color and Materials studio courses are designed to expose students to a wide range of real-life design problems with industry and community partners. These courses challenge students to apply their skills using the categories of color, materials, and finishes in developing design outcomes and interventions for artifacts and experiences. Starting with research students will articulate ideas in response to consumer insight, trend research, that are relevant to the evolving needs of people and markets.

Graduate Thesis I

Thesis I is part one of a self-directed major project that will be the culmination of the graduate study experience. Students will synthesize external factors - such as technological, global, environmental issues and trends, then go on to translate them into a form that is meaningful and create relevant design solutions. Students will develop a body of well-documented iterative ideation, that will underpin thematically relevant creative outcomes in part two, evidencing practical impact and/or a critical provocation.

Written Thesis

The Written Thesis is a self-directed, academically rigorous and fully referenced 8000-10,000words document providing a critical appraisal of primary and secondary research sources, and theoretical discussion and debate on the overarching context of the Graduate Thesis.

Applied Materials & Processes

Color and materials designers working in an industry job, often have both color and materials design and color and materials development roles In this course, students will be introduced to color development, including test sample exercises and understanding industry standards for color and materials sign-off and approvals. Students will acquire a strong understanding of color measurement, visual color assessment, and color matching systems.


Color & Materials Studio IV

Today being material-minded is an integral part of the design process. Designers are required to understand how materials impact the design process from start to finish. Students will conduct in-depth research to explore the latest advances in materials, looking at current and future possibilities in industry and craft applications. How can material innovation influence design and making? The course encourages work that moves material innovation towards better and more sustainable solutions.

Graduate Thesis II

Thesis II is part two of a self-directed major project, a body of work that is the culmination of the graduate study experience. Following on from part one, students will resolve, realize, and present thematically relevant creative outcomes, evidencing practical impact and/or a critical provocation.

Professional Practice II

Professional Practice II builds on Professional Practice I, and runs in two concurrent modules, A and B. Part A is an in-depth exploration of the economic and socio-cultural value of the student’s own creative discipline. It examines the business practices of their professional discipline and how these operate alongside that of others. Part B allows students to further assess their own role and economic potential in the business of creativity, and advance their “hard” and “soft” skills.


Students will choose an elective course.

MFA Color & Materials Design Program Student Learning Outcomes (PLO)

The learning outcomes underlying the MFA in Color & Materials Design curriculum are:

Applied Principles and Practice: Apply forward-thinking color and materials design skills to a broad range of applications.
Independent Practice: Undertake independent research and demonstrate competency in its analysis and interpretation appropriate for the line of inquiry.
Material Innovation: Utilize advanced research and material-led idea generation to create relevant material concepts.
Trend Research: Interpret, translate, and anticipate trends and their potential to impact people, consumers, and their behaviors.
Critical Thinking: Develop a contextual understanding of relevant factors that inform innovation and evidence original thought, that result in creativity and the generation of ideas.