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Academic year
Didactic period
Secondo Semestre

Training objectives

The Basic Design Studio provides students with the basic tools for designing functional industrial products that follow the strict relation between needs and performance.

Within this Studio, students have to achieve the ability to describe the design specifications, shaping their project according to them. The final representation will follow this process, from the preliminary concept to the ultimate form.
Besides the graphics capabilities, students will improve an in-depth knowledge of the basic performance of materials, as well as the relationship between the product requirement and the needed performances of its components. This know-how includes the study of how tracing useful sources to deepen existing and innovative materials.


Having knowledge of the essential tools of the drawing and practical of the orthogonal projections.

Course programme

Historically the first examples of what today can be called a class in Basic Design can be found in the “vorkurs” (Bau Haus, 1919-1935) and in the Hochschule fur Gestaltung of Ulm (1954-1960).
In particular, the method developed in Ulm found its groundwork in Gestalt’s psychological studies and in Euclidian geometry, both used as operating tool and aesthetical language. After 50 years of cultural development, this method cannot be put into practice as it is. This course will offer an adaptation of these teachings to today’s times, as a starting point in the creation of an education to design and planning.

The Basic Design Studio is made of a main discipline, Product Design, and a module of Materials and Production. Through a scientific approach, made of lessons and class exercises, students will be addressed to through the project planning of product design.
Product Design Module:
- Communication tools
- Visual perception and rules of Gestalt
- Colour theory
- Pattern design
- Quality, and customer needs
- Evolution of the standard
- Packaging design
- Drawing for industrial production

Material & Production Module
- methods and tools to research and assess materials
- use of materials in product design
- Materials for product design: wood, ceramics, glass, polymers and metals
- Materials for packaging
- Folding performances and materials


Didactic methods

Both the Basic Design Studios, A and B, have the same didactic objectives, even if carried out with methods chosen by the teachers. The several support exercises, carried out in the form of Workshops and Seminars, will be carried out in a common and collective way.
The teaching plan is structured in:
a) frontal lessons,
b) interim exercises;
c) practical exercises to be developed at home;
d) common workshops (classroom);
e) seminars and reviews with external experts;
f) final design project exercise.

In the case of foreign students (Erasmus, Atlante, etc.), it is possible to agree with the teachers the study of technical books in English and to carry out reviews and exercises in English, without prejudice to the participation in all teaching activities and exercises.
Foreign students will have to carry out group exercises together with Italian students.
Students who participate in international exchanges can attend only one of the Modules of the Basic Design Laboratory. In this case the final evaluation will take place according to the criteria already illustrated, but providing just the deliveries of the interim exercises of the chosen Module and the final exercise in a "reduced" version in the minimum content required (only those pertaining to the module attended).
If attending to a single-Module (and not all the Studio), the final grade will be a weighted average of the interim evaluations and of the results of the final project, analysed by the teacher responsible for that Module.

Learning assessment procedures

The final exam of the Basic Design Studio takes place in the form of student interview, asking for a presentation of the Design exercise and a comment of the results of theoretical and practical exercises made in both the Studio modules (DP + MEP), taking care of their complexity. All the exercises will be presented to students in due time.

Both Modules of the Studio ask for mandatory interim exercises, sometimes to be made and delivered in class, in other cases to be completed at home (following the specific instructions of the teacher). The assessment of these exercises will take into account their compliance to the project objectives as well as the delivery method and times that, if not observed, will decrease the judgement.

When the delivery takes place within the prescribed time, a synthetic judgement will be given by the teacher (with notes relating to critical or particularly positive aspects). The student can integrate and/or modify the project already delivered, following the suggestions of the teacher, if he/she considers to have received an inadequate evaluation or if would like to improve the final outcome.
All the exercises foreseen by the course must be delivered, whether they are transmitted in time by the student or that he decides to deliver them only at the final exam.
The evaluation of the interim exercises will be based on these criteria: compliance with the project brief; quality of representation; quality of the concept, punctuality of delivery.
The judgements given to the interim exercises will use a semaphore code (red, yellow and green) accompanied by notes; their value in the final judgement will thus be calculated not in an arithmetic way, but promoting the student's commitment in improving exercises (if not good) and taking into account his/her personal progression (from the beginning to the end of the course).
In the final mark teachers will also take account of exercises not delivered, which will be awarded a negative score of 1 point.

The development of the workshop topic (the final project), will start about halfway through the course and it will be coordinated by both teachers of the Studio, who will carry out reviews for the duration of the course. The lecturers who will participate in the workshops and seminars activities will also assist the student.
The content of the final project will be discussed on the day of the exam and its evaluation will be carried out according to the following criteria: correct planning framework; quality of the concept; correspondence of the project to the objectives identified; quality of the graphic representation; correspondence of the proposed materials to the project requirements; completeness of the required documents.

All the interim exercises will give to the student three synthetic judgements:
1. delivery of intermediate Product Design exercises (low, medium, high range);
2. delivery of intermediate exercises in Materials and Production (low, medium, high range);
3. delivery of the exercises developed in Workshops and Seminars (low, medium, high range);
The mark assigned to the final exercise will transfer these evaluations in four levels of judgement: insufficient (redo); 18/22; 23/26; 27/30.
The final mark assigned to the student will correspond to the final exercise score, weighted taking into account the three synthetic judgements obtained in the interim exercises.
The honours will be awarded unanimously by the teachers and only to students who have demonstrated particular innovation skills and will have delivered all the interim exercises.

Reference texts

- Rudolf Arnheim, Arte e percezione visiva, Feltrinelli, 1984
- Umberto Eco, La struttura assente, Bompiani, 1980
- Bruno Munari, Design e comunicazione visiva, Laterza, 1968
- Bruno Munari, Da cosa nasce cosa, Laterza, 1981
- Donald Norman, La caffettiera del masochista. Il design degli oggetti quotidiani, Giunti Editore, 2014
- Robert M. Pirsig, Lo zen e l'arte della manutenzione della motocicletta, Adelphi,1980

Further specific texts will be suggested during the lessons.
At the end of each lesson, the projected slides will be available online in the Course file.

A specific bibliography will be available after each lessons (to improve the students knowledge about the analysed material) and it will be made of: the slides of the lesson, texts available at the Department library and free pdf or video files, downloadable from the course website or linked from the web.

We particularly recommend:
- Ashby Mike; Johnson Kara, Materials & Design. The art and science of the selection of materials for the project, Ambrosiana Publishing House, II ed. 2010.
- Ashby M.F., Shercliff H., Cebon D., Materials. From science to engineering design, Ambrosiana Publishing House, 2009.
- Bolton, W .; Higgins, Raymond A., Materials for Engineers and Technicians, Routledge, 2015 ( 124 = & bdate JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ% 3d% 3d # db = nlebk & AN = 862059)
- Del Curto B., Marano C., Materials for design. Introduction to materials and their properties, Ambrosiana Publishing House, 2008.
- Thompson R., The manual for the design of industrial products, Zanichelli, 2012.

Please note that the Department of Architecture has renewed the subscription to the MaterialConnextion database, to which all students have access, through the network (also wifi) of the Department of Architecture, from the page: