Department of Product Design History

The first cohort of 35 undergraduate students and two faculty members started the program in fall 2008. The Master of Science in sports product design was launched in fall 2016.

Long before these first students joined us, it was the work by visionary faculty members in the Department of Art and the Interior Architecture Program to propose and guide the Product Design Initiative. The motivating force for this initiative was a 2003-04 strategic planning exercise from which “increasing interdisciplinary collaboration” emerged as the number one goal. With the support of Dean Robert Melnick and, later, Dean Frances Bronet, the key collaborators developed the curriculum, worked on funding, and secured academic approvals for the start of the program at all levels of the University of Oregon and Oregon State System of Higher Education. The final approval for the BA and BS in Material and Product Studies and the BFA degree in Product Design came on July 13, 2007.

A critical private donation of $1.5 million from Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle and his wife Mary provided significant support to help launch the product design program and endow the Boyle Chair in Material and Product Studies.

Corporate leaders at Ziba Design, Nike, Intel, and Gucci Group were advisors and helped craft the program to meet the future needs for research and industry growth. Many of these corporate leaders participated in the Product Design Symposium—“Design for Use: art, architecture, and material culture”—hosted by the School of Architecture and Allied Arts (now the College of Design) to explore educational trends and industry needs for the proposed program. The symposium was held on May 13, 2005, with speakers including Herman D’Hooge from Intel, Larry Eisenbach and Tinker Hatfield from Nike, Allen Samuels from the University of Michigan, and Leslie Speer from the California College of the Arts.