Last First Day at SVA

by MFA IXD January 13, 2016

This week saw our second year students starting their final semester! Deborah Koo decided to ask her fellow classmate Max Kessler a few questions, looking back on the day he first applied to the program, what he learned so far, and what he is excited for in the remaining few weeks.

What inspired you to apply to the program?

I worked as a furniture designer after college for a couple of years. I enjoyed making things with my hands, but became frustrated with the slow pace of the design process. While I was there, only two things were made. I also had concerns about long-term career prospects.

I explored entrepreneurship, developing an original medical device and forming a company to sell it. I was initially involved in the business side of things, but on the advice of our investors, we partnered with a group in New Jersey that was an expert in running a business.

At that point, I knew I wanted to make a career change into something that would have career longevity and where the design process was more agile. I spoke with a friend, Tyler Davidson (Class of 2014), who was just finishing his first year in the program. Hearing him talk about what he was learning, the network, the types of products he was creating and his confidence in the long-term career prospects was really inspiring and I decided to apply.

What have you learned so far?

I’ve learned through the program, and very much validated through my work experience, that research and testing are critical for developing grounded concepts. That good design is created through testing, iteration, and validation with users. And when you stick with the process (and trusting the process can be difficult), good design that is useful and resonates with users will follow.

What are you excited to learn this semester?

I am looking forward to the process of iterating, prototyping, and testing my product/service for my thesis project and really refining my perspective on it. I’m excited about learning how to prototype for the answers we need in order to create a product that is grounded and successful. I also think the Narrative and Interactivity class will be really helpful, teaching us how to tell clear and compelling stories about the products/services we design. And, of course, building something!


The deadline for applications is fast approaching: Friday, January 15, 2016, just days away! If you have last-minute questions about your portfolio or application, just contact us.

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