Feature Stories

This Recent Grad is Working as an Industrial Designer

Kristen Ciandella graduated in May with a degree in Industrial Design and she has a good job working as a designer.

Kristen Ciandella graduated in May with a degree in Industrial Design and she’s already working as a designer for Hampton Forge in Eatontown, N.J., a company that designs kitchen products.  

During her senior year, Kristen won two major design awards from the School of Art + Design: the Designer of Distinction Award for Industrial Design and the Academic Merit Award for Industrial Design.

In her second year at NJIT, Kristen also had won the Design Award and the Cambridge Silversmiths Sponsored Studio Design Award. So it's no surprise that right after she graduated, she found a job she loves. In this interview, she talks her new job and her passion for industrial design.

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dddCan you talk about your job?

I just graduated on May 20th and I'm already working full time! I've joined the Product Development team at Hampton Forge in Eatontown, NJ. They are a company that mass produces cutlery and flatware, and I'm very excited about my new position.

Is it a good company to work for? Did your NJIT education prepare you well?

It's a great company to work at because of all the experience I'm getting. There's so much to learn about the industry and a lot to learn about managing and to efficiently handle multiple projects at one time. From a mass production standpoint, there's a lot of things that were spoken of in my classes that I deal with now, so I think my professors did a good job at preparing me for "the real world."

So you are happy there?

I am very happy at my job- it's challenging and keeps me busy every single day. There's never a dull moment. I'm also really lucky to have gotten a job at a company that designs kitchen cutlery and flatware because I love this field.

What projects do you work on?

I am part of the product development team where I assist in both cutlery and flatware development. We're constantly preparing presentations for buyers and handling our samples, which are made in China. The best part is that I never do the same thing every day. That's good for me because I'm never bored, and it's fun to handle multiple projects that are all in different phases of development. Even though I'm not in a design department where I sit and sketch and ideate, my skills as a designer are still utilized in order to work through our projects.

How did you get interested in Industrial design?

I took art class all four years when I was in high school, but I didn’t know right away that I wanted to be a designer. After graduating, I spent two and a half years at Middlesex County College where I got my associate’s degree in fine art. Before I finished up there, I knew that I needed to change my major to something that was more structured but still allowed for creative expression. I first considered interior design, but after attending an open house at NJIT where I learned what industrial design was, I immediately knew that it was what I wanted to do.


For those who don't know the field, how do you define industrial design?

Industrial design is product design! I’ve described it as a balance between art and engineering; you have to be able to make something that looks good and also functions. Otherwise, you’re just making sculptures. The name industrial design is totally misleading for people. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve had to explain that an industrial designer does not design buildings. I’ve spent three and a half years at NJIT, and throughout my semesters of studio I have designed scorpion-inspired flatware, a desk light, paper-egg packaging, door handles, a folding bicycle, museum furniture, and various housewares and kitchen products. I’ve enjoyed the change in scale from small projects like flatware to a full-scale folding bike because we make physical prototypes of our designs and figuring out how to make those are sometimes a design challenge.

Did you like your classes?

My favorite class every semester has always been studio. It’s where I spend the most time, and studio projects seem to always take priority over the other classes. The design electives and ID requirements have been pretty fun, too.

By Robert Florida