Joep Frens on His Time at the School of Design


Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design says goodbye to one of their own when Joep Frens, a designer and researcher as well as the 2014 Nierenberg Chair, heads back to his home in the Netherlands.

“I have had a fantastic time at the School of Design,” said Frens. “I have met and worked with a lot of new and interesting people and worked with great students. I was able to take time to develop new classes and also rejuvenate some of my previous classes.

“It was a nourishing experience in a school that is infused with design values.”

Frens holds a masters degree in Industrial Design Engineering from Delft University of Technology and a doctoral degree from Eindhoven University of Technology on a thesis called: ‘Designing for Rich Interaction: Integrating Form, Interaction, and Function’ (2006).

In his teaching and research, Joep tries to bring together two of his fascinations: the question of how to design for systems and the power of making as a physical way of thinking. He takes a hands-on approach and is well versed in the research-through-design method. He regularly gives workshops on cardboard modeling and runs a website around the technique.

Frens served as the Nierenberg Chair at the School of Design, which is given to an outstanding individual who has achieved national or international prominence in design or a design-related field.

“It was a great honor to be asked,” continued Frens. “One of my own mentors held the position about a decade ago and it felt fantastic to walk in his footsteps.”

The goal in establishing the Nierenberg Chair was to enhance the vitality of the School of Design for students and faculty alike by encouraging dialogue on important issues of the field, exploration of contemporary forms of design practice, and research that affects future practice and understanding.

Frens imparted to his students the importance of having a repertoire of skills, instead of just having one way of expressing themselves.  Through his classes, like Cardboard Modeling and Prototyping for Interaction Design, he showed future designers that having multiple ways of expressing themselves and their ideas would provide new inroads towards developing innovative solutions to problems.

“Make the most of the facilities in school and grasp every chance to talk to people and learn,” added Frens when asked for parting advice to students at the School of Design. “Carnegie Mellon’s School of Design has a great reputation and the school has a rich and long history in design.

“Your education is the ultimate moment to experiment, explore and learn.” 

Joep Frens' Cardboard Modeling >>

More on the Nierenberg Chair >>

Date Published: 
Friday, May 29, 2015