Designer, researcher and educator Karol Murlak named chair of the Department of Design


July 1, 2024
Karol Murlak, the new chair of the Department of Design
Department of Design Chair Karol Murlak. Photo by Ameera Albalawi.

The College of Fine Arts has named designer and researcher Karol Murlak as the chair of the Department of Design in the School of Design and Creative Technologies, effective July 1. He will hold the Marguerite Fairchild Centennial Professorship.

Murlak brings more than 18 years of academic and business experience to the role, and he joins the college from his most recent positions at the Pratt Institute in New York and at SWPS University, Warsaw. He also runs an independent creative consultancy.

“Professor Murlak comes to us with an international trajectory of projects focused on solving some of the world’s most urgent problems through design methodologies,” said Ramón H. Rivera-Servera, dean of the College of Fine Arts. “Trained in a cross-section of design specializations — from spatial and experience design to industrial design — his work in research and in practice demonstrates the ways design procedure harnesses creative thinking, deep historical and sociological know-how and aesthetics for the greater good. I am excited for his leadership and for his advocacy for the transformational work being advanced by our faculty, staff and students in the Department of Design.”

Murlak’s design practice centers around creation and application of new materials. He has designed more than 50 projects creating innovative materials, products, furniture, exhibitions and public installations. His work ranges in scale and complexity, and he’s worked on patented technology for a new lightweight wood material and devices that bring relief for patients with spine and foot conditions, as well as musical installations showcased in the world's busiest locations. He has worked with institutions and companies in Europe and America, including Martinelli Luce, the Museum of Food and Drink and The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

“The Design Department at The University of Texas at Austin offers a rare combination of cutting-edge design education located in a robust, multidisciplinary research university and a dynamically developing city,” Murlak said. “I am honored to join this community of forward-looking practitioners and scholars serving ambitious students and local communities. I would like to thank my predecessors for creating this unique environment and the college leadership for entrusting me with the mission of further developing the department.”

Murlak has co-led Interdisciplinary research teams that received more than $3 million grant from the European Research Council and $5 million in research and development grants from the National Science Foundation for a new seaweed-based water-absorbent, which enhances soil fertility and water retention to protect crops between irregular rainfalls and irrigations. His scientific articles have been published in journals such as Craft Research, European Journal of Wood and Wood Products and Formy.

His projects have been presented at exhibitions in New York; Washington, DC; London; Milan; Berlin; Brussels, Frankfurt; Dresden; Budapest; Prague; Bucharest; Sofia; Ljubljana; Warsaw; São Paulo; Brasilia; Rio de Janeiro; and Toyama. He’s received recognized design awards and won competitions such as the Design by… Competition, the Sanitec Koło Prize and the Design Competition for the City of Łódź.

He holds a doctoral degree in design and a master’s degree in interior architecture from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Poland. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Spatial Design from Falmouth College of Art in Great Britain.


Faculty General Press Releases Research School of Design and Creative Technologies College of Fine Arts Department of Design

Read More News