Title: Using furniture design to convey a rigorous design education process

Authors: Ian De Vere

Addresses: Faculty of Design, Swinburne University of Technology, 144 High Street, Prahran, Victoria 3144, Australia

Abstract: Teaching furniture design, whilst imparting skills specific to a particular vocation, is also an opportunity for other educational agendas. Furniture design projects can be used to develop a palette of skills essential to any design discipline, support knowledge of materials, structures, construction and human interaction, and drive critical agendas such as sustainable design and social responsibility. In addition, furniture prototyping allows a rare opportunity for a rigorous external appraisal process uncommon in student projects. Built furniture can be evaluated for aesthetics, ergonomics and comfort, then structurally loaded and tested for strength, stability, user safety and structural integrity. Construction methods and material choice are easily appraised as designs are evaluated against criteria of sustainability, appropriateness to user and environment, manufacturing requirements and market needs. Often designing and prototyping furniture allows design students their only opportunity to realise and test their designs in a real world context, typically through public exhibition.

Keywords: furniture design; design education; multidisciplinary design; design integration; furniture prototyping; design curriculum; design students; higher education; aesthetics; ergonomics; comfort; structural loading; strength; stability; user safety; structural integrity.

DOI: 10.1504/JDR.2011.040591

Journal of Design Research, 2011 Vol.9 No.2, pp.146 - 158

Published online: 07 Jun 2011 *

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