Program
We know nothing.

The breakneck advances in technology have led to the next industrial revolution. For the first time in recent history no-one knows how the future is going to look like. Interaction Designers are in the center of this transformation: it is in our hands to create the future that is based on human values, needs and behaviours.

Approach

Designing for Relationships

Technology is becoming omnivalent, intelligent and emotional. 
No longer a tool to pick up and use, it is starting to fulfil its premise by augmenting our abilities as human beings.
 So we are no longer designing the technology, but rather the relationship we are having with it. It has to be meaningful and valuable. It will have its ups and downs, excitements and bores, it will start, evolve, and end. All this has to be catered for from the human perspective.

Designing
for Humans

The world we are designing for is developing extremely fast. We are not — we resist, adapt, and eventually embrace change. Thus we must take human beings as the unchanging cornerstone, the basis on which to build our designer attitude, approach, and methodology. At IxD.ma, the study starts from the human centered, but has its finger on the pulse, quickly adapting to the world, and always looks into the future.

Designing
for Life

Human-centered design is no longer enough. In order to enhance our living standards after generations of exploitation, we have to look beyond human needs when designing the tomorrow. We have to consider those of the planet. Interaction designers have great impact on how people interact with the world around them, we are able to shape the human perception, even values and behaviours. Creating a positive future is in our hands.

Curricula

Attitude makes a designer

From makers of things to problem solving innovators — the designer’s job description is in constant motion. This is why we concentrate on the core attributes of a designer: first and foremost the mindset—the thinking, values and attitudes, then the skillset, and only then the toolset. 

Being a designer means developing a certain personality. Designers are curious and not afraid of confusion, experimentation or failing. They can be critical to create clarity, and creative to build ideas. They can see the big picture, but also be meticulous about details. Designers are humble, care about and fight for the people, and the planet we live on. 

Learn by doing

The studies at IxD.ma are experiential and studio based. You develop your designer intuition, experience and portfolio through constant iteration, guided by mentors—passionate industry practitioners, who use their experience to guide you through challenging projects. 

Semester 2

Build

Designers think by doing. This semester focuses on building and developing ideas by making them tangible and actionable.

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Tangible Interactions

The goal of this project is to explore interactions beyond screens and involve senses beyond sight in our design process. You will get your hans dirty with paper prototyping, soldering, electronics, maybe even woodworking and 3D-printing.

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Digital Product Design

The main project of the semester, this project is an industry collaboration. You’ll be again going through the design process, this time concentrating your effort on ideation, prototyping, validation and storytelling.

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Emotional Design

The aim of this project is to explore the often overlooked emotional side of design. You will focus on mobile experiences, learn the methods that go into designing for applications, and see that emotional design is a fundamental aspect that separates great design from the good.

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Intro to Business Development

Introduction to customer-centered business development.

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Intro to Programming and Portfolio

Either you’re looking for work or an internship, an outstanding portfolio is the key for a successful application. We will follow through a series of sessions throughout the semester to help you design and craft it. In the first part of the class you'll learn the designer fundamentals of HTML/CSS coding, to give you more freedom in the portfolio design process.

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Design History and Theory

To make more educated decisions as a designer, it’s a prerequisite to have an understanding of where our craft is coming from, where it is and where it might be going.

Semester 1

Empathise

Empathy building is a designer's core skill. The first semester's projects focus on user research and defining the design brief.

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Introduction to Human-Centered Interaction Design

This introductory project will get you familiarised with the principles and methods of human centered design. It will be also an introduction to the culture at IxD.ma, our methods for working, collaborating, reflecting, and learning.

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Service Design

The border between products and services has become almost non-existent. The main project of the semester, this course will guide students through the service innovation journey, focusing heavily on the exploration and definition phases. Solving problems starts with asking the right questions.

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Visual Interaction Design

Starting from the underlying principles in composition, typography, colors etc, this course will give you the much-needed fundamentals of visual design, and after that, interface design.

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Design Storytelling

Getting your message across effectively is one of the core skills for designers. This course lays out the fundamentals of design storytelling and gives practical skills focusing on the video.

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Design Anthropology

This course introduces a general overview and the methods of applying anthropological user research methods to the design process.

Semester 4

Thrive

The fourth semester is for refining and developing expertise in your focus, and proving your maturity as a professional.

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Degree Project

The degree project is a self-initiated project, that will provide you with an opportunity to develop your point of view, design approach and the management and communication skills inherent to a professional creative.

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TASE Exhibition

Each team ends their studies with a big exhibition, showing off their degree projects.

Semester 3

Reflect

It is time to reflect on your goals, and look into the future. Human-centered approach is no longer enough, what is next?

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Design for Social Innovation

Cultural and technological advances open up new opportunities, and with them new problems. Humans are reluctant to change and governed by preconceptions, instincts and habits. Designing for social issues often requires designing for behavioural change. 
We as interaction designers possess the right mindset and skills to do that — to see through symptoms, to uncover hidden problems, and to act upon discovered opportunities — all by building empathy. This is an incredibly powerful skill to have, and with that power, comes responsibility.

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Design for Emerging Themes

The topics in interaction design are constantly emerging due to advances in society and technology. Interaction designers need to stay updated with the latest trends in the field, as it is expected from us to pave the way into the unknown future, uncover and address the hidden challenges and opportunities that accompany change.
This course will provide you an opportunity to design for currently emerging themes, such as AI, IoT, climate change, and many others.

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Immersive Experiences

Virtual and augmented reality are two technologies that will play a big role redefining the way we communicate with machines and each other in the upcoming years. In this short course, you will explore what kind of new possibilities are emerging, how they affect us, and how to design for them.

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Prototyping Futures

How do we broaden our focus as human-centered designers? How do we consider possible futures when designing products and services for today? This project focuses on novel experimental ways of building empathy with the future.

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Speculative Design

IxD.ma's focus is on creating the future. Sometimes we need to take a critical stance in our design, and build future scenarios and artefacts that are specifically designed to provoke reflection and discussion.

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Psychology for Designers

Being a true human-centered designer assumes understanding how people work.

Real projects. Real experience.

Our approach is practical. In  collaboration with top industry partners — Estonian startups, government sector, telecoms, NGOs — each semester, we work on real life briefs, real life problems and real people to discover hidden possibilities of innovation and come up with forward-looking concepts that are grounded in reality. 

Fail. Learn. Repeat.

Design is a very open community, there’s an abundance of methodologies and materials out there. Anyone can learn them. But it’s a matter of practice, failing, reflecting, and trying again, to actually start thinking like a designer. We aim to create a safe environment that encourages risk-taking and fosters creativity by being open, honest, fun and reflective.

We emphasise diversity, as it is essential to innovation. At IxD.ma, you’ll be working alongside students from many different professions, backgrounds and cultures. You’ll be collaborating with students from other disciples, programs and universities. This creates a platform for new ideas and a mutual learning experience. After graduation you will be well equipped to run complex design development projects and to manage international multi-disciplinary teams.

Location

A Digital Nation

Estonia, in Northern Europe, is home to a small population and a thriving economy. Dubbed as the "First Digital Nation" or the "Silicon Valley of Europe", it's a country with most start-ups per capita, and the Internet declared as a basic human right.

Great Demand

Being a digital nation, the country faces a great industry demand for designers. Start-ups are constantly on the lookout for talent, and the government sector is open for innovation.

Small Equals Possibilities

No traffic jams, get anywhere in ten minutes and the prime minister is one call away. Being in a small nation means having easy access to the industry, agility to move fast, and having time to spend on things that matter.

Affordability for Students

Estonia has a long but mixed history. While culturally enriching, some of the past experiences have also given a blow to the country's economy. It is developing extremely fast, but for now still a reasonably priced option for students.

watch a video about estonia

A School Old & New

Established in 1914, the Estonian Academy of Arts is one of six public universities in Estonia. It combines an unique mix of heritage and cutting-edge, as its small size allows for agility and constant innovation.

Individual Approach

EKA is a school of 1000 students and 1:3 teacher-student ratio. This means that individualised study and personal mentorship are at the core of your development.

Inspirational Environment

EKA hosts a multitude of creative departments, many of which have been operating for close to a century. You are welcome to get inspired by textile and fashion designers, blacksmiths, ceramists, sculptors and many others.

State-of-the-art Facilities

In 2018, EKA moved into brand new campus right in the middle of local cultural hotspots. VR Lab, Prototyping Lab, Woodworking Studio, Photo Studio, Equipment Rental and others are at your disposal to engage your creativity.

See what the school looks like

Story

From Designers, to Designers

The IxD.ma was born out of necessity for designers in a digitally advanced nation.

Launched in 2016 by Kristjan Mändmaa (EKA), Amid Moradganjeh (IDEO) and Keit Ein (FLUX), input from top design teams across the Globe was used for establishing the initial approach, methods and curricula. Ever since, the program has been in constant development, quickly becoming the most popular masters' program in the school and is starting to gain international reputation.

Work
with us
We partner with startups, NGOs, enterprises and the government sector to bring human centered innovation to their products, services and experiences.
LEARN ABOUT PARTNERSHIPS
Study
with us
We welcome students from all backgrounds and prepare you for a future as an interaction, service, systems, product or user experience designer.
LEARN ABOUT the program