Lesson #2: What is design?

Part of the unit: Two-Dimensional Furniture Design |


What is design? How do we begin a design?
Students will be able to:
Compare and contrast various designs of an object
Understand that designers often seek to improve on the function of an already existing product
Identify a problem and/or the needs of a particular customer or product-user scenario
Brainstorm ideas and solutions through sketching.
12"x18" white drawing paper and ebony pencils
A few differently designed versions of the same kind of product/object (such as cell phones, pens, kitchen tools, cups, etc.) A grab-bag of slips of paper describing different design scenarios and types of customers. Up to four students can work on the same scenario.
Choose one of the objects from the previous lesson and show various designs of the same product. A good example for interests in this age group are cell phones.By looking at, handling, comparing, and contrasting the various forms and functions of the product overall and the differently designed versions, engage students in a discussion:
  • Who uses this object? For what purpose?
  • Why do we need (object)?
  • Why are there so many different versions of (object)?
  • Who do you think uses this (product) in comparison to the other (product)?
  • What makes the function in this product different from the other product?
  • Who makes objects?
  • What other types of products do you see everyday?
If time allows, show various designs of other types of products, such as pens, cups, utensils and continue discussion. Review and define Design with the class.
1. Explain the project to the students: each of us will be designing a chair for a particular kind of customer (also known as a targeted audience). 2. Demonstrate brainstorming for a particular customer-scenario by generating ideas with the students and charting these down on the board. For example, pose the challenge of designing of a lounge chair for a man in his 20's. Ask them:
  • What type of person do you envision? career? hobbies? physique?
  • Where do you envision the chair to be? office? studio? home?
  • What are his needs in a chair? Why not the classroom chair?
  • What sort of special function can a lounge chair have to satisfy his needs?
  • What type of line, shape, form describes the word "lounge"?
  • Do you own, or have you seen, a chair that fits the description? If so, what function or form can be changed or added to make the chair original?
Explain that this kind of brainstorming about the customer and the product is one of the first steps of a product designer's design process. 3. Demonstrate sketching the function and form of the chair while using their chart of ideas as a guide. Use the classroom chair as visual reference. Explain to students that the chair can be used as a starting point or the "bone structure" for drawing the form of the chair.
1. Have students choose a targeted audience scenario from a grab bag. Up to four students can be assigned to a scenario. 2. Distribute 12"x18" white drawing paper and ebony pencils. Have students brainstorm ideas and sketch an idea for their chair under the guidance of these questions:
  • Who is your audience?
  • What are their needs of a chair?
  • What sort of function can your chair have to satisfy their needs?
  • What sort of form or shape(s) will support the function?
  • What sort of form will go well with the characteristics and style of your audience?
3. While students work, encourage them to be inventive with the function of their chair. Remind them that this is only a sketch. Encourage them to look at the classroom chair as a guide for developing their sketches.
Put up students' sketches organized by scenario (targeted audience). View and discuss differences and uniqueness in each design. Have students describe their thought processes and choice in function and form. If time is tight, select and discuss all the sketches from one scenario.
Have students research two to three chairs that fit their scenario/targeted audience. They can research online, at sites such as www.designpublic.com. Have them print out their chosen chairs as visual resources for the following lesson.