Ignacio Urbina Polo has been appointed chair of industrial design in Pratt Institute’s School of Design. He assumes the role on July 1, 2022.
Urbina is a distinguished industrial designer and a tenured professor at Pratt where he has taught both graduate and undergraduate courses since 2011. His professional and academic practice has included work in Brazil, Venezuela, and the United States and spanned many areas of design, from product research to publications. His research concentrates on the intersection of industrial design and interaction, designing with minimal resources, decolonized material culture, aging, and cities.
“I am looking forward to working with Ignacio as the chair of industrial design,” said Dean of the School of Design Anita Cooney. “In addition to his accomplished work as a professor, Ignacio is responsible for a number of critical initiatives still in operation that establish his influence as an international design educator of the Global South.”
As chair, Urbina will oversee the undergraduate and graduate industrial design programs. The Department of Industrial Design includes approximately 375 students and 75 faculty.
“I am eager to lead a diverse and creative community of scholars, researchers, and students in its next chapter, building on the department’s strength to innovate and enhance its undergraduate and graduate programs, while also developing industrial design initiatives for our future,” Urbina said.
His courses at Pratt include undergraduate studios as well as master’s thesis and graduate seminar special projects. In 2016, he led the creation of a special project course that has included work with schools in and travel to Cuba, Colombia, and Puerto Rico.
Urbina has an industrial design degree from the Instituto Antonio José de Sucre in Venezuela and a master’s degree in product engineering from the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil. Before joining Pratt, he served as a professor and director at the visual communication and design school Prodiseño in Caracas. He has lectured and led design workshops at universities across the world.
As a professional designer, his work has concentrated on how people engage with objects and places within the context of social, political, and economic ecosystems. He co-founded the Metaplug design firm in 1999, which has created products for private sector companies and public and cultural institutions.
Since 1995, he has worked on curatorial projects, such as a major industrial design exhibition at La Estancia Art Center in Caracas, and as a leader of the Iberoamerican Design Biennial in Madrid since 2007. He has spearheaded initiatives like NoMATERIA which promotes Venezuelan industrial designers and di-conexiones, a Spanish language industrial design digital platform where he is the editor. He is a founding board member of the Ibero-American Design Conference which celebrates and addresses issues impacting designers and design educators in Latin America, Portugal, and Spain.