Norwegian version

Design students aim to solve problems and improve people’s lives

Rob Starling standing in the stairs of a tall building.

Rob had something of an unusual background for the master’s programme—the UK native previously worked in the medical industry designing prosthetic limbs.

As new technologies began to transform the field, Starling decided he needed to recalibrate his skillset for the future.

The master’s degree programme in Product Design – Design in Complexity at OsloMet caught his attention.

The top-notch facilities for 3D scanning, printing and CNC milling were a major reason he decided that OsloMet was where he wanted to take the next step in his education.

Rob in front of a wall with a huge DNB logo on it.

Rob Starling is currently working with service design in the largest bank in Norway. Photo: Per Christian Lind

“To get the most out of the two-year programme, I used my first project to explore which skills are most valued in the Norwegian design industry from the perspectives of students, lecturers and design alumni,” Rob tells us.

“Based on that knowledge, I chose to focus my studies on sustainability, service design and system-oriented design.”

Rob genuinely enjoyed learning new working methods, design techniques and developing his digital skillset throughout the master’s programme, and enjoyed seeing how he could apply the skills he already had in new ways. 

His experience in the master’s programme made him realise he could take his career in a new direction.

“I find that the skills I developed through the Master's Programme in Product Design have opened up a wide range of new career opportunities,” Rob reflects.

I now work as a service designer at DNB and find it incredibly exciting to work with the fascinating technology being deployed in the banking and finance worlds, helping to improve the everyday experiences of customers. – Rob Starling
Portrait of Rob.

Internship results in a job offer

One of his fellow students, Norwegian native Nora Margrete Marsteen, came to the master’s programme directly from the bachelor's programme.

“I chose the master's in product design at OsloMet because it includes an internship in the private or public sector built into the programme,” Nora explains.

“As I recently started applying for jobs, I have noticed that work experience is often required in addition to a master's degree.”

In the spring of 2020, just before Norway shut down as a result of the pandemic, Nora began her internship with the City of Oslo.

After the internship was over, she was offered a job for the summer, and then a part-time position where she works with service design for one of Oslo’s city districts.

Nora on a yellow bench on campus. She is holding a mobile to her ear.

The internship lead to a great job opportunity for Nora Margrete Marsteen, and she has already started working with service design. Photo: Per Christian Lind

“I am now collaborating with one of my classmates on a master's thesis who also had an internship with the City of Oslo."

"The subject of the thesis is how the district where we’re interning can improve its outdoor areas so that people will use them more. Our master's may be called product design,” Nora notes, “but we learn a lot about service design too.”

While the bachelor's programme focuses on practical skills, knowledge of materials and the design process, the master's program provides an in-depth study of the theories behind the design process.

“When I finished the bachelor’s programme, I found myself wanting more theoretical knowledge,” says Nora.

Portrait of Nora.

Shifting focus from furniture to service design

Another current MA student, Nadiya Karibayeva of Kazakhstan, came to OsloMet thinking a master’s in product design would allow her to create furniture in the future. 

When she arrived in Norway, Nadiya already had a bachelor's degree in architecture from the University of Manchester.

But Nadiya soon realized that working on large-scale projects was not the right thing for her. She wanted to work with design in a different way.

Drone photo of a green island in the Oslo Fjord with the city in the background.

In Oslo urban life and nature go hand in hand. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward / OsloMet

“I had been thinking about pursuing a master's degree abroad for a while. I knew I wanted it to be something related to design, but I didn’t know exactly what."

"When I saw a BBC documentary about design, it dawned on me what I wanted to do: solve problems small and large and help make people's lives better,” Nadiya reflects.

“I did not want to be a passive spectator.”

Small class size is another reason Nadia chose OsloMet—there are only 14 students in the programme.

Nadiya had also heard good things about the workshops and the impressive machine park where students can work with a variety of materials.

Portrait of Nadiya

Having finished the master’s degree in product design, Nadiya Karibayeva is looking forward to focusing on service design in her future career. Photo: Private

At the Department of Product Design, each student gets a personal workspace and can try everything from text printing to 3D printing of clay, as well as a whole range of digital tools.

Nadiya no longer dreams of designing sofas, tables and chairs in a future career. Instead, she has fallen in love with service design.

“I’m particularly interested in social design. Public services, social innovation and health are all fields I would like to explore and contribute to. After the two years spent at OsloMet, I feel prepared to go out and do this.” 

Three students working around a table. On the table they have a huge sheet of paper that they are writing on.

Students from many countries participate in the master's programme in product design at OsloMet, and all lectures are held in English. Photo: Private

Encouraged to think outside the box

Nadiya has relished the opportunity to think outside the box, instead of focusing only on mastering a predefined set of practical skills.

“We are encouraged to explore even the craziest ideas. And that is not common in design programmes.”

Instruction in the programme is conducted entirely in English, and about half of the current class is international students.

Even outside the classroom, conversations continue in English, and Nadia is happy both with her experience in the programme and in Norway more broadly.

“The atmosphere is unique, almost difficult to describe."

"The contact between students and lecturers, all the resources that are available in the workshops, and just the way people care about the school, about design and each other—it’s amazing to be a part of this community.”

People crossing a floating bridge with tall modern buildings and the opera house in the background.

Oslo is a cosmopolitan, fast-growing city that is best explored on foot. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward / OsloMet

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