Kusske Design Initiative

Pop-up biomaterials workshop held in HGA Gallery in Rapson and hosted by Kusske Design Initiative and the Dare to Repair seminar led by April Stone, who is an indigenous artist from Wisconsin who creates baskets from local black ash that that she harvests and processes herself.

A generous commitment from Manitou Fund to the University of Minnesota’s College of Design honors the memory of distinguished alumnus Christopher Arthur Kusske (BLA ’78). The Kusske Design Initiative (KDI) instills his legacy through widely inclusive events and collaborations among a growing community of broadminded designers. Chris’s emphases on interdisciplinary dialogue, co-creativity, and respect for the natural world inform and inspire solutions for planetary-scale challenges. By combining values of social justice and environmental stewardship with the disciplinary spectrum that forms the college’s DNA, KDI programs and inquiries have transformative potential for the products we use and the environments we inhabit.

About the Initiative

Kusske Cohort

The initiative provides funding for undergraduate Kusske Scholars, graduate-level Kusske Fellows and Assistants, and faculty co-principals, who create a community of broadminded, collaborative designers to re-vision and remake our world. 

Learn about this year's cohort and our KDI collaborators

Events & Programming

The bi-weekly Exchange forum convenes students, faculty, and staff across the college for interdisciplinary dialogue to broaden their perspectives on design and find opportunities for collaborative learning and creativity. Each year, the college hosts the Kusske Lecture & Dialogue Series, which features highly accomplished designers whose work demonstrates phenomenal vision and outcomes. Each spring, the Burst colloquium further encourages radically participatory engagement with diverse creative perspectives. Reflecting each year’s events is a broad-reaching, intermodal exhibit, Vista, which invites engagement with outcomes of the creative, pluralistic collaborative. 

View details about our ongoing and upcoming events

Special Projects

KDI funds also contribute to the establishment of physical and digital tools that support both the initiative and the college in creating interdisciplinary connections. This includes the development of a demonstration site for a Biomaterials Lab, supplementing the college’s existing fabrication facilities with innovative new technologies and materials to support biophilic, bio-inspired, and environmentally conscientious design. KDI collaborators are also developing Canopy, a suite of digital tools to support connection within the college and the broader design community.

Learn more about ongoing special projects.

About Christopher Kusske

Christopher Kusske

A generous commitment from Manitou Fund to the University of Minnesota’s College of Design honors the memory of distinguished alumnus Christopher Arthur Kusske (BLA ’78). Inspired by his work, the Kusske Design Initiative will instill his legacy through broadly inclusive, high-profile events and a community of broadminded, collaborative designers. 

Christopher’s career, together with his partner Allen Kolkowitz (B.Arch ’82), exemplified interdisciplinary design understanding and its importance in advancing the field. Their firm, KOLKOWITZ KUSSKE, worked across the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain to generate systematically imagined solutions. They involved expertise from multiple disciplines, guided by the belief that all projects require a rigorous approach to design methodology. 

Our Support

Manitou Fund

We are grateful to the McNeely family and Manitou Fund for this visionary opportunity.

Manitou Fund logo

Make a Gift

Your gift to the KDI Support Fund helps us advance dialogue across disciplines and explore material and technological innovation among collaborators in and around the College of Design.

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