10 off-the-grid art, design and fashion schools you might not have thought of

Calling all creative kids! Beyond Parsons and Central St. Martins, here are ten super-cool, under-the-radar art and design schools around the world.

Feb 3 2015, 10:30am

Parsons MFA in Fashion Design and Society 2014

When it comes to choosing an art school, it can feel like a toss-up between New York's snow or London's rain. But while the capital cities host some of the world's leading art and design institutions, there's a whole wide world of compelling programs and cool campuses to explore. We've rounded up ten off-the-grid art, design, and fashion schools from around the world that you might not have thought of. Class is in session!

School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University
Always wanted to go to school inside the rolling hills of the Windows XP homescreen? Well the School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore is as close as you're likely to get. The five story building designed by Singapore-based architecture firm CPG Consultants reflects the creativity it incubates, blending innovative landscape architecture with modern design. Plenty of outdoor plazas, lush foliage, and natural light streaming in through the building's glass walls make this design school an oasis for both students and faculty alike. ADM undergraduates have their choice of majors ranging from Digital Animation, Digital Filmmaking, Interactive Media, Photography and Digital Imaging, Product Design, and Visual Communication.

Naropa University
While not strictly an art school, Colorado's Naraopa University is certainly one-of-a-kind. Founded by Tibetan Buddhist teacher and Oxford University scholar Chögyam Trungpa in 74, Naropa's curriculum is guided by Buddhist-inspired principles that focus on contemplative education. Home to the famous Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics (co-founded by poets Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman in the 70s), Naropa offers a wide range of majors, including Visual Art as well as a minor in Contemplative Art Therapy.

AFDA: The South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance
Founded in 94, South Africa's AFDA emerged from the most humble beginnings possible: six students, a rented VCR and broken TV. In two decades, the school has transformed into one of the region's most exciting institutions of its kind. Boasting over 1200 students, 150 resident academics and administrators, and 3 fully equipped campuses in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, AFDA's grads go on to be some of South Africa's leading film-makers and entertainment industry pros.

Symbiosis Institute of Design
One of India's leading design institutions, Symbiosis puts heavy emphasis on project-based learning to sharpen students' creative analytical skills. An amazing option for those looking to develop a career in fashion, the school offers separate majors in Fashion Design, Textile Design, and Fashion Communication, which is basically "How to Become the Next Anna Wintour 101." The insanely multi-disciplinary program of study equips fashion-fiends with basically every skill you'll ever need to excel in the industry. There's a little bit of graphic design, visual merchandising, exhibition and display design, event planning, styling, advertising, public relations, even creative writing specific to fashion--the only thing that's missing is the gym-class equivalent of training to live without sleep. There are even courses called "Fashion Appreciation" and "Fashion Forecasting." Sign us up!

Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy School of Art
Aside from having the most fun name on our list, Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy School of Art (often shortened as "Sir JJ") is the oldest art institution in Mumbai, founded in 1857 under the British administration. Today, classes are still held in the Eliphinstone College, a breathtaking building famous for its 'Romanesque Transitional' style architecture and lush garden. Undergraduate departments include drawing and painting, sculpture and modeling, interior decoration, textile design, metal work, and ceramics. With a solid mix of European and Indian art-making techniques and philosophies, Sir JJ's students develop their own unique methodologies and blaze their own ways in the modern age.

Institute of Creative Photography
One of the Czech Republic's six universities that offer photography programs, Silesian University's Institute of Creative Photography offers its students well rounded programs of study that develop skills across all areas of picture making. ICP even has a "Photographic Excursion" course, where students are given the possibility to visit photography festivals both at home and abroad to help develop their own visual and theoretical voices. Advice to current students: start looking into any festivals in Fiji.

KUNSTGUT School of Contemporary Art
Situated in Berlin's Kreuzberg neighborhood--an enclave of galleries and elaborate street art murals--KUNSTGUT School of Contemporary Art is one of Germany's most sought after art institutions. All KUNSTGUT students are enrolled in a two year foundation course "Classical Techniques of Art," and then given the freedom to shape their own voice in the school's three-year project-based courses. KUNSTGUT's small size not only allows students the opportunities to build meaningful relationships with their peers and professors, but also access to kick ass studio spaces in one of Europe's most cutting-edge capitals.

Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture
One of Finland's top art schools, The School of Arts, Design and Architecture was founded in 1871 as a Craft School. The school seeks a multidisciplinary approach between Aalto University's other faculties and departments, aiming to deepen its students' art-making processes and philosophies by incorporating science, technology, and media studies into its visual arts and design curricula: one example being the school's competitive Master's in Creative Sustainability.

Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design
"Interaction Design is a practice that combines traditional design disciplines with socio-technological trends," CIID's website explains. "Interaction Design is not so much about visual and physical aesthetics but rather about the beauty of intangible experiences." With last year's boom of wearable tech devices that smartly married form and function (like Opening Ceremony and Intel's MICA bracelet), this Copenhagen-based graduate program could very well be the place to watch for the next generation of intelligent designers.

If your backside has ever basked in the opulence of an Eames chair, you owe it to this hidden Detroit creative powerhouse. The graduate-only school (and Charles Eames' alma mater) continues to be known for its truly hands on method of teaching: there are no curricula, required classes, or prerequisites. About 10-15 students in each of Cranbrook's ten departments study under a single artist-in-residence who guides explorations and mentors rather than teaches. In 1984, the New York Times reported that "Cranbrook, surely more than any other institution, has a right to think of itself as synonymous with contemporary American design." Thirty years later and that sentiment still rings true in the unique educational community. 


Text Emily Manning
Photography Jerome Corpuz