Kristjan studied printmaking and book design in Estonian Academy of Arts. Thereafter he spent a year as a graphic design student at Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam.
In 2003–2011 he worked as an associate professor of graphic design in Estonian Academy of Arts; in 2009–2013 in Tartu University Viljandi Culture Academy as a manager of an international MA-program „Design & Development of Virtual Environments“.
In 2011–2016, during his tenure as a headmaster of Viljandi Art School, Kristjan focused on bringing design studies to the levels of primary and basic education. Together with the Union of Estonian Art Schools a design competition NODI was established for school children from all over Estonia.
Since September of 2016, Kristjan Mändmaa works again in Estonian Academy of Arts being busy with managing the Faculty of Design and renewing the higher design education.
Quo vadis, design education?
The word „design“ is kind of a magic word promising to solve all kinds of problems – if only we say it out loud or attach it to our different undertakings and activities. It seems the world would become a better place if we’d start teaching design to everyone from the early age, definitely no later than in kindergarten. At the same time, many busy people employed today as designers have never studied design at school. Also, perilous predictions are made – soon AI will take over all design work. Why do we need design education, especially the higher education in design, then? Yet, more and more new design programs are opened in Estonia and elsewhere. Design has found its way to business and technology schools. Where is it all headed for?