Master in Design Management

IED – Istituto Europeo di Design Barcelona

Program Description

Master in Design Management

IED – Istituto Europeo di Design Barcelona


Day after day the business world is becoming more complex to manage with lower and lower margin for errors. In this context, the value of a discipline resides in its ability to facilitate better-informed decisions. This highly competitive environment requires knowledge that helps increase effectiveness, knowledge that reduces the number of failures associated with the risk of innovation. As Marketing did in the past, Design is being identified as the next discipline to join the pool of functions required for successful Business Management.

Since the beginning of the 21st century, different fields such as business and engineering have regarded design as an important strategic advantage for innovation and change (organizational, social, technological, business transformation, etc.). Thanks to its ability to integrate brand, market, and business needs with user research, and consumer need identification to propose future scenarios, the role of Design is now changing from a project-based to a strategy-based function. Its ability to project, visualize and validate, makes Design a critical tool in decision making by minimizing the risk of innovation uncertainties.

Design Management integrates innovation processes, multidisciplinary decision-making, a human-centered mindset and business strategies, to create effective products and services addressing the current landscape of the challenges the world faces today (such inclusion, sustainability, and diversity) toward successful and meaningful companies. Design Management blends designers’ way of thinking, sensibility, and methodologies with business viability, management strategies, and market value creation. Design Management tackles from core design disciplines to business design, considering technology feasibility, through empathizing with current and future customers, optimizing experiences and imagining and facilitating change, by means of agile, innovative and human-driven processes and methods.

The IED Barcelona Master in Design Management prepares professionals who integrate design value and tools into the business. Designers need to understand the business reality and the role they can play to be able to participate effectively in it and its environment and maximize their contribution to society. Business managers can benefit from understanding the potential of a discipline like Design in the Business environment and facilitate its integration to other strategic functions to contribute to the value creation process.

General objectives of the course

This intensive program aims to provide students with the necessary theoretical and practical knowledge and tools and experience to become Design Management professionals.

  • Enable Design, Marketing, Engineering and Business Management professionals to overcome disciplinary boundaries in order to grow into key drivers of organizational success.
  • Develop into leaders capable of combining creativity, managerial skills and entrepreneurial mindsets within the constraints of Business realities.
  • Assist Designers and non-Designers in understanding how design management can contribute to the creation of sustainable value within the Business environment.
  • Help Designers become Design Managers, Design Managers become Design Leaders and Design Leaders become innovation leaders of the future.
  • Provide students with Design and Business Management tools that will enable them to become powerful key contributors in the Value Creation Chain, within the corporate environment or as independent professionals.
  • Develop proficiency in using the tools provided. Students will be able to identify appropriate use of these tools to balance academic and practical knowledge, efficiency in communication and ability to evaluate necessary trade-offs when faced with real business challenges.
  • Expand the student’s roles and capabilities in working with innovation teams.
  • Encourage critical thinking to allow students to be active citizens of our global society


At IED Barcelona Design Management is taught by a faculty body of practitioners from Design & Business, through the immersion and practice of different innovation and strategic methodologies, analysis of case studies and the execution of a real-industry project commissioned either by multinational companies competing in the global economy, or local companies competing in the international markets. This approach facilitates the training in decision making, placing the students in a real context for innovation and experimentation.

Following the learning-by-doing methodology, students are constantly developing relevant projects in teams. The learnings and competencies achieved will be applied at the transversal real-industry project alongside the program. The Design Management Master students are hosted in a dedicated classroom, a space that it's transformed into an innovative design studio where students experiment with new tools and knowledge, with the guidance of the faculty. Small groups of students in the class facilitate the application of this hands-on methodology.

Design managers most likely won’t need to design in detail themselves, but they must be able to communicate very clearly their concepts, either to the business staff or to the design team in order to achieve the desired results. Therefore the students are taught a very diverse set of tools, to train their skills to a level where they can communicate well and lose the fear to discuss at sketch level or through a video.

With the aim of creating synergies between futures professionals, some transversal activities are held for exchanging knowledge with students of different programs. This is also part of IED philosophy.

Personal Research Project

The Personal Research Project is the single most important piece of written work that students undertake during their RSP Research Study Program. PRP is the culmination Master and should demonstrate that the student has acquired skills, knowledge and analytical capabilities.

The project is an original piece of research involving primary data collection which aim is to undertake an individual work that meets the requirements outlined in these guidelines in order to achieve a passing grade.

The objectives of the thesis process are the following:

  • To identify a feasible project in the student’s area of study.
  • To establish clearly defined objectives and/or questions to be investigated.
  • To design and implement an appropriate (design research/process) methodology.
  • To understand the adding value proposition (concept).
  • To create a business development plan based on the previous concept.
  • To create feasible and concrete design proposals.
  • To demonstrate analytical skills and produce valid findings.
  • To apply theory to practical reality.
  • To draw appropriate conclusions and recommendations where necessary.
  • To produce a well organized and well-written final document and an effective oral presentation of the thesis.


After finishing classes and presenting the two real industries projects, students have the opportunity to implement and prove all the knowledge acquired and skills developed in a three months internship.

In the same period, students are working on their PRP so that they can choose to focus their investigation on a personal project or to connect it with the internship.

Field Trips

To give students a wider understanding of market state-of-the-art, 2 field trips are scheduled in the course curriculum. With the guidance of professors and coordination, students explore different markets and professional contexts in Europe.

Each Field Trip will take students for 3 to 5 days to European cities to exchange knowledge in different environments. After those days devoted to academic activities, students have the opportunity to discover the city on their own. The proposed trips for this academic year are*:

  • Milan_ Salone del Mobile 2016 and visit companies.
  • Geneva_ Innovation Bootcamp at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research).

Student's profile

The master recognizes and welcomes students from a range of backgrounds in design, management and theoretical fields.

Designers of all disciplines (Graphic Design, Product Design, and Interior Design), architects, professionals from Business and Management areas, Marketing and Communication are welcome to join the program.

Admission requirements

To enter the validation process, all candidates should submit the following documentation:

  • Academic background: an Undergraduate degree is required.
  • Certificate of English proficiency: official IELTS or TOEFL certificate.
  • Motivation letter.
  • Portfolio.
  • Candidates should pass a personal interview with the academic coordination.

IED Barcelona structures the program in a flexible way to attract students with different specialties and with various backgrounds. This creates a multidisciplinary environment for the students during the course, for the development of a complete vision through design management.

Career Opportunities

Students who take this course add value to their professional experience in both business companies, design studios, and strategy firms, practicing design management in positions such as design department managers, brand managers, design directors, innovation directors, service designers and design strategists. Also work as managers and executive responsible for making decisions about how design is used in the organization, in companies, design and innovation agencies, but also in education and government agencies.

Design managers deal managing teams that might include industrial design, graphic design, service design, environment design, brand identity, fashion design, interface design, interior design, experience design, architecture, and engineering.


Mercè Graell

MFA in Design Education by The Ohio State University, BS in Technical Engineer by the Universitat Politècnica of Catalunya, and Graphic Design by Escola Elisava in Barcelona. Her interests and work in the research and professional practice include co-creation and human-centered design innovation methodologies. Since 2010, she is a design manager and lead designer at Designit, an international strategic design firm.

In academia, she has been adjunct professor at The Ohio State University and Sinclair Community College, where she is in the design advisory committee. Currently, she coordinates and teaches in the Design Management Master and developed the professional program in Design Thinking & Co-Creation at IED in Barcelona. She is also a faculty member of the Human-centered innovation institute, h2i.

Duration and frequency

Start: January 25th, 2018
Timetable: full time
Frequency: 11 months

*The educational planning for all IED Master courses is aligned with the criteria established by the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). The IED Master program has adopted a credit structure that follows the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). The IED Master issues private degrees.

This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated September 25, 2018
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Jan. 2019
12 months
Full time
Spain - Barcelona, Catalonia
Start date : Jan. 2019
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Jan. 2019
Spain - Barcelona, Catalonia
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info