The Post-Industrial Design School is a set of experimental, experiential courses by Christina Xu and Gary Chou in which students explore what it takes to create and sustain independent projects: how to confront uncertainty, build networks, and learn to launch and iterate upon one’s own ideas.

The backbone of this project is seven years of the semester-long Entrepreneurial Design course at School of Visual Arts MFA in Interaction Design, as well as a six week course taught outside of the academy called the Orbital 1K.

Most variations of the course center around the challenge that each student makes $1,000 by the end of the semester by launching an original project. Through this exercise, they are required to confront a number of challenges related to working in the real world and learn experientially along the way.

This site is a chronicle of the entire Post-Industrial Design School experiment to date, including all of the course materials, reflections from the instructors, takeaways from the students, and a running roll call of the many people who have helped with the course along the way.

Students from School of Visual Arts MFA in Interaction Design go through an ideation exercise at the beginning of the semester.

From the Instructors

From the Students

If there’s any secret sauce to entrepreneurship, if there’s any “it” factor, it’s this: start before you feel ready.

—Melody Quintana, Embrace the Awkward

Doing a Kickstarter turns out to be a great way to reach out to other people with your ideas.

—Guri Venstad, Connecting the Cheese

One of the key things I learned is the huge gulf between theory and practise.

—Tony Chu, Fail in Public

Ask for feedback, but most importantly know when [it] is time to use the feedback and when [it] is time to trash it.

—Paula Daneze, This is just the beginning…

Don’t let details get in the way of launching.

—Pam Jue, What I learned from earning $1k in a semester

The most beautiful thing I’ve learned is that most of us love to help others.

—Song Lee, Don’t be scared to ask for help

Tell as many people as you can about what you’re working on.

—Kohzy Koh, A Few Scattered Pieces of Advice for Future Entrepreneurial Design Classes

...the most powerful thing about sharing the unfinished, about being open and raw with the world, is that others can recognize themselves in you.

—Rachel Balma, Breaking the Golden Record

Small audiences will actually TALK to you. Embrace that. Engage with people.

—Christine Lawton, What Happens When You Have a Small Audience

That’s the beauty of the prototype. It’s a way of testing decisions.

—Nour Malaeb, On Being Stuck

Stay within your target audience (somewhat) to get the appropriate feedback. You don’t need to please everyone.

—Andrea Kang, What I learned from launching Reflect, a guided journaling club

It’s about being genuine. It’s about there being no right answers. About fighting the tendency to ask for approval or permission. About getting out of your head and engaging with the world.

—Nikki Sylianteng, A class on life

If Christina and Gary had simply told us these things I don’t think I would have believed it. The way in which we had to apply and learn as we built real projects really drove these lessons home.

—Tyler Gumb, Process over Product

There’s something exciting about taking risks, and not knowing what the outcome will be.

—Leroy Tellez, It’s OK to fail

...friends, families, and people have truly surprised me.

—Jennifer Wei, Asking for help empowers you

Sharing your work in public is scary, but it is an essential step to build trust and credibility within your own network.

—Margarita Yong, Lessons Learned From Successfully Running a Kickstarter Campaign

Even if you’re the one with the idea, find a few people to take the journey with you, because you’ll go further, together!

—Datrianna Meeks, With my last entrepreneurial design course...

It helped me [...] realize that our networks and our fellow designers — the company we keep — shapes who we are and helps us to grow.

—Crystal Wang, The Company We Keep: A Kickstarter Journey

The biggest lesson I have learned is that good design isn’t just for people - it is with people.

—Amy Ashida, What the $1,000 Project Taught Me

When you send something good to the world, it will come back in the most lovely form of surprise.

—Angie Ngoc Tran, I got kickstarted and here’s what I learned

I don’t know if you can teach someone to be an entrepreneur any more than you can teach someone to have good taste, but you can teach about the power of the Internet.

—Barbara de Wilde, Can you teach someone to be an entrepreneur

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have a solid network together, a network you trust, before embarking on the journey of getting out there [...] and putting yourself in public.

—Anupma Rajani, Surround yourself with the right people

This class has taught me to have confidence in my opinion, curiosity, and (burgeoning) expertise on design.

—Sarah Henry, Entrepreneurial Design: What I’ve Learned

The paradox of uncertainty is that while we avoid it, it is actually the very thing we need.

—Ruth Tupe, The Paradox of Uncertainty

Course Materials



The course we have today is informed by the contributions and insights of our previous co-instructors, Christina Cacioppo (co-creator, 2012) and Leland Rechis (2014, 2015), and the guidance of our department chair Liz Danzico.

Each run of the course is a set of sprawling explorations into many unfamiliar areas. To manage the unexpected obstacles and opportunities along the way, we've relied heavily on the friends and colleagues in our collective network for guidance and advice.

Over the years, we've experimented with different ways to utilize our network: as advisors, teaching assistants, guest commenters and speakers.

Special thanks to the School of Visual Arts MFA in Interaction Design Faculty and Staff colleagues. We benefit from the fact that the students bring with them the skills and insights developed in their other courses as well as within the experience of working together in the studio.