Solving future challenges with design

Nadiya, fellow student Elias, and Mari

Nadiya Karibayeva and Mari Bonden are in the second and final year of the Product Design MA programme at Oslo Metropolitan University. They’re pleased with the course and feel that they’ve grown both as human beings and as designers during their studies.  

"The study environment, facilities and teachers are great! Absolutely great", Nadiya exclaims with enthusiasm.   

"It’s probably the first time I’m in a place that really stimulates learning. The joy of learning. There’s a cosy working space and everyone has their own desks and plenty of storage options."  

"The shared kitchen is where all the interesting discussions happen. I feel comfortable here. - And the library! It’s full of inspirational books and journals. I love roaming around the psychology section!"   

Friendly atmosphere 

Nadiya tells us that the staff are always very approachable, even if you don’t know them.   

"While working on a project I always feel the supported by the tutors, they help you to recognize the value of your work and ideas."  

"They really help you to develop organically, and make you feel confident about your work and decisions. I think I’ve changed a lot since I started here."  

"There’s something unique about the atmosphere,’ Mari adds. ‘The way in which students and tutors interact really lowers the threshold for asking for help or guidance".  

"It’s a great environment for study, really friendly. This is often commented on by exchange students, who say that they feel welcomed and included both by students and tutors."  

Coherent programme 

Nadiya also speaks of how she likes that the facilities are so accessible, and that students are encouraged to work independently. And that there’s always someone in the workshop to ask if help is needed.   

"I was both excited about, and a bit afraid of using all those machines at first. Little by little, you discover more and more about the workshops and become a better user."  

Nadiya ads that she was positively surprised by how coherent the programme is.   

"Seemingly unrelated subjects strangely fit into one another. Everything’s interrelated!"  

Relevant to future work life 

- Do you believe that the skills, knowledge and competence you develop during this study are relevant to future work life? 

"Absolutely, especially for my field of design", Mari says.   

"My work is mostly with physical products such as furniture and smaller objects. The facilities and the range of knowledge from teaching staff are helping me to develop the necessary skills for my future work life."  

"Most of the things we learn at school are way ahead of the rest of the world", Nadiya ads.  

"The question is how we’ll manage to use this knowledge later on, after we graduate. Bringing that mindset to all the other fields will be a challenging task."   

The goal of design 

"Now that we’re approaching the end of the MA, it’s clearer to me what I would like to do careerwise," Nadiya explains.  

"It’s not only about skills. The biggest part of it is the way you look at things, how you understand the world, what and how you think". 

It’s not only about skills. The biggest part of it is the way you look at things, how you understand the world, what and how you think.  – Nadiya

- What makes design essential to society? 

"As designers we have a different way of approaching and solving problems. We’re trained to have a user-centred mind, and to think sustainably, which is essential these days." 

Nadiya agrees, "I think design puts you in a place where you feel like you can change things and not just accept them as they are. There are many new problems we’re faced with today, and the complexity keeps growing exponentially." 

"Questioning the existing state of things, and having the courage to intervene and introduce change to make life on the planet better, (both human and non-human), – that’s what I believe to be the ultimate goal of design."  

Supervised professional training 

The MA programme in product design includes at least one period of supervised professional training. The girls are both pleased with the results.   

"First, we had an internship day where different companies, both public and private, were invited. It was brilliant, I was given two offers and ended up doing my practical training with Oslo kommune. I am very thankful," Nadiya smiles.   

"To get the opportunity to explore what it means to work for a company is important for your development," Mari expands.  

"I want to work with furniture design and was able to secure an internship at Objekt - a new Norwegian furniture manufacturer."  

"For me it was interesting to see what happens with a design after the designer “gives it away”. I ended up taking a one-year break between my first and second year to continue working with Objekt."   

Job opportunities and design thinking 

- After graduating, product design students are qualified to work with design in a range of different fields. How do you feel about entering the job market?   

"I know there’s a need for design thinking in almost all fields. However, not all of those fields recognize the value design has to offer. But I think that’s changing," Nadiya explains.   

"You see product designers working in all kinds of places already now - not only with products, but also services and even whole systems. I think this trend will continue."  

Mari guesses that the job market will be easier in some fields than others.   

"I think if you really want to do something, you can achieve it. You just need to work really hard to get there," she says smiling.   


The girls aren’t yet sure what they’ll do after graduation. Mari’s goal is to start her own business. She plans to use her master’s thesis as a starting point.   

Nadiya hopes to work for a couple of years in Norway to help build more experience.   

"I don’t know exactly where I’ll work, but it’ll be something within public services. The social innovation sector is very appealing to me." 

Recommend the study programme 

Both Nadiya and Mari warmly recommend the MA programme.  

"It’s hard not to be biased, since I feel like this is something I really like, but product design, (at least the way it’s taught here), has the ability to provide knowledge that can be applied virtually anywhere, no matter what your profession is", Nadiya says.   

Mari agrees.  

"Absolutely! I’ve been studying here for five years, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. The programme allows for collaboration with other schools through exchange programmes, internships and lectures - which I’ve benefitted from tremendously. You learn to develop as an individual and find your own areas of expertise."   

- And, finally. Do the girls have any advice for others who would like to join the masters programme in product design?   

Mari nods.   

"Have a plan of what field of design you want to work in. Also, keep an open mind to learn more and grow as a designer." 

"Go for it! It’s going to be an exciting journey," Nadiya ends.   

Photo: Nadiya Karibayeva, fellow student Elias Dahl Olsen, and Mari Bonden.

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