Materials and Making: Themes in Design History

Kingston University

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Materials and Making: Themes in Design History

  • Host University

    Kingston University

  • Location

    London, England

  • Area of Study

    Art History, Design

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Course Content:

    This module presents thematic approaches to the study of product and furniture design
    as an historical subject. Through image-based lectures, discussions and study visits,
    students will be introduced to the historical development of product and furniture design
    from the 1750s to the present day.

    Students will consider the evolution of the design practices and professions, and the role
    of changing design and production technologies and techniques. Each session is intended
    to address particular ideas and practices that have shaped and constructed our
    contemporary understanding of product and furniture design as a meaningful social,
    cultural and economic activity.

    The module engages with critical texts to allow students to examine the relationship
    between theory and practice in product and furniture design, and to develop an
    understanding of the emergence of product and furniture design as a cultural response
    to modernity.

    An integral part of this module is the close consideration of designed objects and images,
    and the understanding of these in relation to larger contexts of meaning and

    Topics covered may include:
    ? The historical development of product and furniture design from 1750 to the
    present day;
    ? The evolution of the product and furniture design professions;
    ? The role of changing production technologies and techniques in the design and
    manufacture of products and furniture;
    ? The relationship between politics, labour, and hand and machine production;
    ? Design, identity and consumer culture;
    ? Sustainability and an ethical approach to design;
    ? Selling and exhibiting design;
    ? The role of the user and design advocacy;
    ? Alternative approaches to design practice;
    ? The impact of digital technology in practice and production.

    Autumn semester:
    ? The uses of the past: Revivalism and neo-classical design in the 18th century
    ? The comfortable chair: 18th century domestic home and the search for comfort
    ? Visit to Furniture Galleries, Victoria and Albert Museum
    ? Wedgwood, standardisation and the creation of the designer
    ? From craft to technology: The industrial revolution
    ? The workshop of the world: Mass production
    ? The great exhibition and the gothic revival
    ? Mass consumption, shopping and the rise of the department store
    ? The arts and crafts movement: Rejecting the industrial world
    ? The turn of the century: The marriage of art and industry

    Spring semester:
    ? The birth of modernism
    ? Modernism: Furniture in Europe and America
    ? Post-war design in Italy
    ? Streamlining and the American industrial designer
    ? The Ulm model: German product design
    ? Pop and plastics: The ethics of waste
    ? Visit to Extraordinary Stories exhibition at the Design Museum (tbc)
    ? Semiotics, product semantics and Memphis
    ? New British design and the designer-maker
    ? Bright green product design
    ? CAD / CAM, 3D printing and virtual making.

    Teaching: Image-based lectures, discussions, screenings and study visits

    ? Exhibition proposal, 1000 words (30%)
    ? Essay, 2000 words (70%)
    STUDY OPTION 2 OR 3: Assessed essay (1,500-2000 words) (tbc)

    Study Option 1 = Whole Year
    Study Option 2 = Autumn
    Study Option 3 = Spring/summer

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Some courses may require additional fees.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

Please reference fall and spring course lists as not all courses are taught during both semesters.

Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.


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