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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

The information on this site pertains to the Summer College 2018 program. If you would like to be notified when 2019 information and applications are available, please join the Summer College announcement list. We also invite you to become a fan of our Summer College Facebook Page.


Design Immersion: Exploring Interior, Graphic, and Product Design

Dates: June 23-July 14, 2018 (3 weeks)
Credits: 3 credits
Eligibility: current juniors, seniors
(see eligibility requirements)


If you've had a building leave you speechless, drawn more sketches than you can count, or saved packaging because it was just too beautiful to throw away, then your design literacy may be stronger than you realize.

This three-week design immersion program, taught by Gourab Kar in Cornell's Department of Design and Environmental Analysis (DEA), will introduce you to how designers think, solve problems, and improve our world.

Working in cutting-edge, Ivy League facilities, you will gain

  • a theoretical framework for design;
  • practical experience solving design problems that are a part of our everyday life;
  • experience with the newest digital design tools;
  • an immersion into the culture of working in a design studio;
  • a chance to compare the creative problem-solving process in a variety of design disciplines and scales, including interior, graphic, and product design; and
  • an understanding of how design can be applied to help solve social issues.

To build your design skills, you'll participate in hands-on workshops and digital explorations, considering design problems ranging from small graphics and product issues to large, spatial challenges.

You'll learn how to build study models, work as an individual designer or in a group, and manage your time. You'll also discover whether you're more at home with hand sketching or computer visualizations.

The design projects you'll complete are intended to be portfolio-worthy, and during the program you'll work towards building your own portfolio suitable for future college applications.

In addition to spending time in the studio, you'll tour some of the hallmarks of contemporary architecture on the Cornell campus during visits to buildings by Richard Meier, Rem Koolhaas, I. M. Pei, and Morphosis Architects. You will also enjoy excursions to local natural areas in the Cornell Botanic Gardens to experience the synthesis of the natural and the built environment.

By studying design precedents, such as iconic chairs from Cornell's collections and "green" materials from the DEA library, you'll get up-close-and-personal with the elements that constitute both timeless design and forward-thinking innovation.

Together with other students and DEA faculty, you'll immerse yourself in the history, theory, and practice of design, see how architects and designers are reducing the negative impacts of building construction and energy use, and gain insight into human behavior and design practice. You'll also learn how design professionals can help to build a more sustainable, socially responsible future for our world.

Finally, to help you prepare for a possible career in design, admission staff will offer a seminar about the college application process, and you'll have a chance to meet with DEA faculty to learn about professional possibilities in design.

Course expectations

Students will be expected to

  • manipulate materials to create models that explore lighting effects;
  • prepare for lectures by completing out-of-class reading;
  • learn how to use Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign with the help of tutorials and instructors in DEA’s computer labs; and
  • work in groups to design, install, and host an opening party of your work in the DEA Gallery.


You'll be enrolled in the three-credit course Design Generation(s) (DEA 1100).

This course meets Mondays through Fridays, 9:00 a.m.–noon and 1:00–5:00 p.m.

Maximum enrollment: 24

Note: You may combine this program with Making a Difference by Design: Tackling Hospitality and Health Care Challenges or any other three-week 2 program to create a six-week Dual Program.

Required textbooks and materials

Title Author Cost
Rapid Viz: A New Method for Rapid Visualization of Ideas, 3rd Edition Kurt Hanks & Larry Belliston $TBD
Paper Sculpture: Fluid Forms Richard Sweeney $TBD
Structural Packaging: Design Your Own Boxes and 3D Forms Paul Jackson $24.95
Design: A Very Short Introduction John Heskett $11.95

These titles and materials will be available at The Cornell Store.

Special scheduling


  • Wednesday, July 4: In observance of Independence Day, we will not have classes.
  • Monday, July 9: College Admissions Workshop, 2:30–3:45 p.m.
  • Friday, July 13: Design Show and Graduation Ceremony, 3:00–5:00 p.m., DEA Gallery, 1250 MVR.


Students and their families are cordially invited to an informal graduation during the DEA Gallery Opening at approximately 4:30 p.m. Students will each receive a Cornell University Summer College certificate and be able to take farewell photos with their friends and faculty. Note that attendance is not required, but is highly recommended and is a nice way to conclude the program. Dress is smart casual.

Checkout dates and times

Before making travel plans, review the checkout dates and times for your program. We strictly adhere to these deadlines.

Program director

Gourab Kar

Gourab Kar is a designer and researcher whose primary interest is research-driven design approaches to fitting objects, spaces, and experiences to human needs, capabilities, and behaviors.

Before coming to Ithaca, Kar was a faculty member at the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, India, where his research focus was the challenges for universal design in the Indian context. Prior to joining NID, he worked as an industrial designer at Antenna Design in New York and at Pentair Inc. in New Delhi, India.

Kar holds master degrees from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, and the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, New Delhi, as well as a professional bachelor of architecture degree from the Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Ranchi (India). As a doctoral candidate in human behavior and design within Cornell's Department of Design and Environmental Analysis, he is currently investigating ways to promote physical activity and movement in the workplace to counter the deleterious health effects of sedentary behaviors.

Besides research, Kar loves to advocate for good design, find ways to make learning fun, and help students become lifelong learners who are capable of harnessing the power of design to make our world a better place.

"As a design educator, I engage with my students in a holistic process of communication in which there is co-creation of meaning between student and teacher. In order to accomplish this objective, I struggle constantly to achieve a fine balance between five basic studio dialectics: making knowledge accessible and facilitating understanding; connecting theory to real-world contexts; being cognizant of the role of affect in the educational experience; encouraging creative expression; and supporting student diversity while maintaining balance and fairness."

Design and Environmental Analysis (DEA) at Cornell

DEA: Exploring Sustainable Design

Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and founding chair of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), who lectured at Cornell on April 5, 2012, commends Cornell for embracing the future and the DEA program as a "living laboratory" for students.

Student experiences

"One of my greatest takeaways from this class is how important design is to even the simplest everyday objects." — Julianne Ho

"I grew so much socially and learned how to manage my time and balance my course work and social life while living without my family." — Emerson Lawton, 2016

"I learned a lot about design, architecture, and all three forms of design (product, packaging, and digital), but I also learned a lot about living with other people and being a good and helpful individual in a community like Cornell University. " — Koloina Rasamoely, 2015

"My professors and TA were the bomb. I loved Rhonda and Pete as professors because they were so passionate about what they were teaching, and I loved Casey as our TA because she had gone through what we were experiencing basically and could relate to us." — Abby Tremel, 2015

"INCREDIBLE!! Totally enjoyed it and had a fabulous time. Thought it was the perfect course for anyone going into design." — 2011 Summer College grad

"The course was a prefect blend of getting a chance to work individually as well in groups. It allowed us to experience the application of design apart from learning the theoretical aspects. I honestly loved everything about this class." — Aneesha Reddy

Student blogs