PhD in Design & Sustainable Innovation


Program Description

You’ll be educated to become a designer in sustainable innovation and to develop the required skills to drive creativity in a multi-disciplinary team.

Ph.D. - (3 years)



At The SDS, Design is taught by “doing”, with a responsible attitude towards the great opportunities for sustainable development. Corporate companies work with our institution to develop real projects of sustainable innovation. The project teams are composed of students from each study level with their multi-disciplinary (architecture, design, engineering, marketing, social sciences, ….) and multi-cultural backgrounds (international students).


Design thinking, frugal innovation, knowledge design, social innovation, are some of our pedagogical methods. International exchange periods are also an essential part of our design education.


Drawing is the first tool of a designer. Drawing allows materializing imagination, to develop a transversal dialogue between different job profiles, to enhance the representation of brand cultures and of the world, … also helps the designer to think, holding a drawing pen in his hand, about new creative stories for the future.


How to conceive storyboards for the future, with a responsible focus on societal, environmental, economic and cultural concerns of the world (the 4 pillars of sustainable development)? Eco-design, analysis of product lifecycle, bio-mimetics, ….are new creative methods.


If the definition of design is “how to help mankind to have a better life on our planet”, the knowledge of others is the most central understanding for a designer. User sociology, anthropology, semiotics, …. are fundamental knowledge of all design processes.


What can be more attractive for a future professional designer than being part of a team, facing the demand of sustainable innovation for a major corporate company right upon the first year of studies? Learning by doing includes the encounter of the real professional life, to build a professional network for future internships and job opportunities, to discuss with people from different generational perspectives…


Nowadays the manufacturing of products is within hand reach. Mock-up and analogical prototyping (with traditional tools) and numeric tools (at the fab-lab of our institution, 3D printers, laser cutters), allow confirming the shapes of sketched products. Prototyping is also possible via electronic constructions of interactive objects.


Design thinking, frugal innovation, knowledge design, bio-mimetics, social innovation, open innovation, are some of the essential methods to learn, to apply them to diverse types of conception. At The SDS we even design our own design methodology!


Following the manual drawing, the numeric tool is taking over. CAO and DAO in 2D and 3D are fundamental to represent, conceive, illustrate and animate objects within their spatial context. The numeric tool is also essential for the communication between the different profiles of creators.


Engineering, marketing, architecture, sociology, ….are next to design the big actors of innovation. To understand and to speak the language of the other professions, to receive the added value of different perspectives, to work in crossed teams, in a transversal and pluri-disciplinary way, to mix the different cultures of the world, ….are some of the many ways to boost creativity.


At The SDS it is possible to participate in an international exchange program. Our school is an associate member of the largest worldwide network of art and design schools and universities (more than 200 schools in 48 countries): Cumulus association.


In France or abroad, internships open new perspectives. Among the major partner companies of The Sustainable Design School, certain may propose internships with their international subsidiaries. Likewise, institutions and NGO partners based internationally regularly seek student trainees for fieldwork.

Last updated May 2019

About the School

The Sustainable Design School is domiciled in the building “The Crown”, emblematic place of the Eco-Campus on the Eco Valley of the Plain of Var in Nice. Our school shares its premises with iconic com ... Read More

The Sustainable Design School is domiciled in the building “The Crown”, emblematic place of the Eco-Campus on the Eco Valley of the Plain of Var in Nice. Our school shares its premises with iconic companies like IBM and startups known for their innovations. Read less