A comprehensive degree that combines a foundation in design, a project-based approach and a focus on real-world challenges, IE University´s Bachelor in Design prepares students for a variety of roles in a growing industry. Clara Llamas, the program’s academic director, shared her insights on the program’s offerings and where it’s headed in the future.

The Bachelor in Design at IE University is a rigorous program for curious, critical and creative students who are looking to use real-life projects to tackle today’s complex design challenges. Program graduates are prepared to make a meaningful impact through roles in spatial design, product design, design consultancy, user experience, strategic design or visual design. We sat down with the program’s academic director, Clara Llamas, to hear about her vision for the program.

An anthropologist with a background in service design, Clara has spent most of her career in global organizations. Spanning the retail, banking, pharmaceutical and insurance sectors, her work experience includes roles at Livework, world’s first service design studio, JPMorgan, Mango, Adidas and ALDI. Her responsibilities have revolved around designing new services, improving existing services or delivering transformation strategies. Incredibly passionate about the value of design in business, policy and organization, Clara hopes to teach students that design operates at a much higher altitude than simply logos or branding. She wants students to truly understand the power of design. 

With its rich program offering, the Bachelor in Design educates students in a holistic approach to the industry. “We engage with different disciplines, develop different design skills, and explore design history and where designs come from. We use the latest technology and methodologies to make students into critical designers who eventually master their craft by doing,” explains Clara

Part of the beauty of the program is that students have four years to explore design in-depth. Covering visual, spatial, product and strategic design, the curriculum encourages students to delve deeper into the areas they find most interesting. What’s more, the program offers electives, internships and exchanges that serve as “windows of opportunity for students to deeply explore areas that align with their professional goals.” 

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The Bachelor in Design is holistic, critical and sustainability-oriented by design. And the team is working to make it increasingly market-relevant as well.

We want students to understand that design is not just about things and spaces. We want to conduct design research and allow students to understand how things work through experimentation and by exploring the more strategic side of design—working with concepts and designing for service.

Clara Llamas

Thanks to its hands-on approach, the Bachelor in Design puts future designers in contact with the real world from day one. “The program brings students challenges from real-world players. Students solve problems for companies and engage with specialists, giving them the chance to make an impact. When the classroom goes out into the world, the world comes into the classroom.” Clara also sets up partnerships with industry leaders who give students advice, offer feedback on the quality of their work, mentor them and help them prepare for the future through internships or as their hiring managers. 

As the program continues to evolve, Clara and her team envision the Bachelor in Design as a transversal degree. “We currently have professors from architecture programs who are teaching courses in the Bachelor in Design—something we’ve never had before. We’re working toward more integration across IE School of Architecture and Design to help unlock new skills and mold students into well-rounded young professionals who can think with creative, problem-solving minds.”

A true believer in the principle of life-long learning, Clara has studied, worked and lived in different countries since she was very young. This upbringing is one of the motivating factors for Clara when it comes to mentoring her students. She’s always enjoyed mentoring and loves that she can learn while sharing her own knowledge.

Being able to share knowledge spontaneously allows you to learn along the way. I love the atmosphere at IE University: it’s full of people who care about learning. I find that I’m learning from them at the same time they’re learning from me.

Clara Llamas

Clara clearly brings her passion for education into her work, allowing her to shape the Bachelor in Design into a transformational program for all students who undertake this journey.