Industry and Academic Veteran Kate Canales Joins College of Fine Arts as New Chair of the Department of Design

Kate Canales

The College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin today announced the hire of a new chair of the Department of Design in the School of Design and Creative Technologies. Kate Canales comes to the Department of Design from Southern Methodist University (SMU) where she serves as Director of Design and Innovation Programs and a Clinical Professor in the Lyle School of Engineering. Canales will assume the role July 1.

“The College of Fine Arts has bold aspirations to elevate and grow our Design programs to meet the growing demand across a wide range of industries for designers who can drive innovation in complex organizations,” said College of Fine Arts Dean Doug Dempster.  “With her unique blend of experience working for renowned design firms like IDEO and frog design and her academic programming experience at SMU, Kate Canales is the perfect chair to lead our Department of Design into a new era.”

Canales is the founder and director of SMU’s pioneering Master of Arts degree in Design and Innovation (MADI). She is also a Co-Principal Investigator on SMU’s partnership with The Retina Foundation of the Southwest, which is using design and innovation methods to disrupt traditional medical research processes.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the College of Fine Arts and the newly founded School of Design and Creative Technologies,” said Canales. “I firmly believe in the school’s vision to redesign arts curricula to prepare undergraduates and graduate students as entrepreneurs and leaders for the creative economy.”

With a background in mechanical engineering, product design and design research, much of Canales’ recent work has focused on building creative capacity inside organizations. She studies and teaches the ways we innovate on the basis of human needs and behavior.

Prior to her experience at SMU, Canales worked as a designer and design researcher at IDEO and as a Creative Director at frog design, both internationally recognized leaders in the field of design and innovation. She holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University, where she completed extensive coursework in product design and art. Her perspective on human-centered design has appeared in Fast Company, GOOD Magazine, The Atlantic, Texas CEO Magazine and The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science. The Dallas Observer named Kate one of the “20 Most Interesting Characters” in Dallas in 2015.