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Product & Furniture Design BA(Hons)

Attendance UCAS code Year of entry
3 years full time W260 2017

Why choose this course?

Based in the Design School, this course will help you develop the creative professional practice, technological knowledge and theoretical understanding necessary for a career in product and furniture design. Strong emphasis is placed on gaining and developing skills in the creative, intelligent and sustainable application of current and emerging materials, technologies and processes.

Find out about a recent project that Product & Furniture Design BA(Hons) students have worked on with John Lewis:

For a glimpse of current projects and activities please visit our Instagram account Product_Furniture_Kingston.

What you will study

This course emphasises practical experience, knowledge and understanding, and the use of materials and technologies in context. You will become sensitive to the physical and perceived qualities of materials, their potential sustainability and appropriate application. You will study the developing roles that designers have, and the impact design can have on social, political, environmental and commercial contexts.

Throughout your studies, you will interact and engage with the industry and profession. You will think strategically, demonstrating industry awareness and social responsibility with regard to your personal or graduate interests.

Year 1 introduces you to the design process. You will develop the essential studio, software, workshop and CAD skills needed for your projects. You will also explore user-based design, materials, manufacturing, technologies, processes, structure, communication, ergonomics and model making.

Year 2 concentrates on the development and communication of design concepts. Projects will help you understand design issues such as sustainability and ‘intelligent making', while exploring different approaches to ideas-generation. Collaborative work
will develop your teamwork skills and an understanding of other subject areas. Self-branding and self-promotion are explored as you develop presentation techniques and generate your portfolio.

In Year 3, you will develop a body of work that is informed by your career aspirations. You will be encouraged to collaborate with industry and apply your design philosophy to live projects and international design competitions. The course culminates in a major exhibition and the development of a professional portfolio.

Is this course right for me?

The Product & Furniture Design BA(Hons) course provides an intensive three-dimensional design education which emphasis conceptual creative thought as well as the practical knowledge and understanding of materials and manufacturing techniques.

Central to your experience is the development of an appreciation of 'intelligent making'. The course values the practical knowledge and understanding gathered from direct experience and use of materials and technologies in context. You are expected to develop sensitivity toward both your physical and perceived qualities as well as your potential creative, sustainable and appropriate application.

The course seeks students who are passionate about designing, thinking and making who wish to develop and realise design concepts that reflect the real needs and aspirations of contemporary society.

Module listing

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list. Those listed here may also be a mixture of core and optional modules.

Year 1

  • This module introduces you to the fundamental 2D and 3D design skills and tools necessary to successfully develop, communicate and represent ideas and concepts to themselves, your peers and the outside world in a variety of media. The application of free-hand drawing and rendering techniques are explored in relation to points within the process of product and furniture design and development. Additionally simple 3D model making methods and presentation techniques are introduced to enhance your ability to communicate ideas effectively. The subjective nature of design is investigated through form development exercises in which the outcomes are reflected on in relation to visual language and perception.

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  • This module introduces you to the process of design and the importance of observation, idea generation, concept development and communication skills. The design process is established as a strategy for the successful development, evaluation and refinement of design ideas.

    Importantly you will begin this "process" with a user-centred design philosophy, putting the person at the centre of the process, understanding their needs and desires. You will gain an initial understanding of product and furniture design practices and the role of the design as it relates to empathies such as human factors, ergonomics and manufacturing including where appropriate the role of contemporary issues such as sustainable design practice etc.

    Fundamentally, this module takes advantage of user-focused design techniques to create inspired and relevant design solutions. Context is introduced, materials and form giving are explored, all supported by the introduction of creative tools like brainstorming and design workshops where appropriate.

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  • The aim of this module is to introduce you to the fundamental principles and components of workshop and studio practice as they relate to the concept of 'designing through making' and the creative application of technology.

    Through a range of projects, workshops, experiments and exercises the module explores the relationship between materials, techniques, processes, technologies and meaning.

    The module develops the key areas of 2D and 3D analogue and digital communication including model-making, workshop techniques, visual language and communication, graphic layout and composition, materials and manufacturing technologies. The emphasis in this module is on developing a creative understanding of the core competencies that underpin product and furniture design practice.

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  • 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, you will be introduced to the historical development of product and furniture design from the 1750s to the present day. You 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 you 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. Key themes will be explored, including: the evolution of design practices and professions, the relationship between politics, labour, craft and technology, taste and display, consumption and design, consumer advocacy and sustainability, alternative approaches to design practice, and the impact of digital technologies. 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 interpretation.

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Year 2

  • The aim of this module is to develop understanding of the potential roles and responsibilities of the designer and enable you to contextualise your personal design vision and ambition. The emphasis in this module is on developing design sympathies and an awareness of a project's stakeholders and how to work creatively and effectively within established project parameters.
    The module encourages understanding of how to develop work in a dynamic and appropriate manner, equipping you with the ability to express opinions and adopt different perspectives in relation to a range of issues and contexts (social, commercial, cultural, environmental and political).

    You are expected to further develop your knowledge and ability in developing design solutions and communicating these physically, digitally, verbally and visually. The module aims include the design of a contextual portfolio in preparation for Level 6.

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  • This module introduces you to the concept of 'intelligent making' as it relates to materials and manufacturing technologies. It emphasises:

    • direct experimentation and investigation of materials and processes; and
    • the development of practical design outcomes informed through an understanding of the affecting factors of batch production.

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  • The module seeks to provide an environment for the discussion, debate and engagement with potential future design and manufacturing issues.

    The module encourages the concept of 'future-gazing' and the adoption of a 'science-fact' philosophy to underpin a rigorous and robust conceptual design process that seeks to indentify 'real' future design needs and design opportunities. The module also encourages 'live' client projects and industry collaborations as a means of contextualising and framing the learning outcomes.

    You are asked to consider the impact of technology on specific areas of society, the environment or industry and engage in the development and dissemination of strategic design outcomes which either encourage further debate or propose sustainable design solutions in relation to defined future scenarios.

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  • This module builds on the historical and thematic content introduced at Level 4 (Year 2) and emphasises the theorisation of contemporary furniture and product design practice. A series of lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials, screenings and visits informs and support your own emerging research interests and the development of independent visual and academic research skills that cross history/theory and design practice. Lectures and seminars will deepen critical and theoretical engagement with contemporary issues in furniture and product design. Seminar tasks and assessments are carefully designed to foreground projects that support the location of furniture and product design as a discipline. Research methodologies are introduced though case studies and practical activities that reflect the issues explored through the module's contemporary content.

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Year 3

  • The aim of this module is to enable you to demonstrate your ability to engage in the design and serial manufacture of objects and artefacts. The production project is an opportunity for you to develop concepts and strategies for innovation and creativity not only in terms of design but also in relation to the methods and techniques of manufacture.

    The module promotes a holistic understanding of the process of research, design and manufacture and encourages an iterative 3D material orientated process of design and development. Production project design solutions require an insight-led approach to conceptualisation and design specification to ensure the requisite design empathy and appropriateness.

    You are encouraged to contextualise your individual practice, with the opportunity to embark on industrial collaborations where appropriate. The production project submission encourages completed works in production as well as editions and series.

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  • This 'capstone' module allows you to demonstrate your personal design philosophy through both the execution and choice of their major project. Capstone is an application of skills and knowledge, and a reflection on your learning through the course evidenced via the major project. Prior to commencement, you are required to submit a project proposal to be scrutinised and sanctioned by tutors and peer group.

    You will consolidate the professional skills you have gained and demonstrate your strategic application through their research, design and development process. The ability to engage in critical debate and present work professionally, both visually and orally, is fundamental.

    This module expects you to deliver professional and creative design solutions with a clear narrative. Consultation with academic and industry experts combined with intellectual contextual and sociological drivers should inform their work. This module is a bridge to your future study, work life or career.

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  • Building on the links between research and practice embedded at Level 5, this module focuses on in-depth research, critical enquiry and reflection on questions and critical issues emerging in your own practice, and pertinent to the practice of your own discipline.

    During the module, you will initiate and develop an individual research topic; identify and evaluate appropriate archives, bodies of critical literature, visual/material sources and research methods; manage their study time; engage with and respond to tutorial dialogue and peer feedback, and apply critical and analytical skills to produce a 6,000-word written dissertation, supported by a series of lectures, seminars and tutorials.

    Following the submission of the dissertation, and to support the realisation of studio capstone projects, you will be assisted with the conception and development of an individual statement that enables self-reflection and locates students within the contemporary contexts of their discipline. Consolidating the research, reflexive and critical skills acquired throughout students' programme of study, the statement engages and applies learning undertaken within previous modules to studio practice, supporting your self-presentation at Degree Show, in future postgraduate study, and/or professional practice in a variety of art and design contexts.

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  • The aim of this module is to enable you to develop a means of promoting your employability through the presentation of an integrated body of work that represents both the concrete outcomes of your creative work and highlights your transferable skills, ie those personal and professional skills and qualities that may not be directly evident in a body of creative work.
    The module draws together and develops a number of elements of your work produced during your three years at Kingston in order to be able to present a complete picture of your range of abilities, personal design interests and ambitions. It is essential that the outcome of the module captures a sense of the your personality and identity and therefore engenders a sense of self within the folio.

    This module requires you to develop a coherent and fluent portfolio, which demonstrates strategic skills, knowledge and creativity relevant and appropriate to their graduate ambitions. You are encouraged to give careful consideration to the appropriateness of the methods and techniques used to creatively communicate all these aspects of their work to an external audience such as potential employers etc. 

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You will have the opportunity to study a foreign language, free of charge, during your time at the University on a not-for-credit basis as part of the Kingston Language Scheme. Options currently include: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Most of our undergraduate courses support studying or working abroad through the University's Study Abroad or Erasmus programme.

Find out more about where you can study abroad:

If you are considering studying abroad, read what our students say about their experiences.

Key information set

The scrolling banner(s) below display some key factual data about this course (including different course combinations or delivery modes of this course where relevant).

We aim to ensure that all courses and modules advertised are delivered. However in some cases courses and modules may not be offered. For more information about why, and when you can expect to be notified, read our Changes to Academic Provision.

A copy of the regulations governing this course is available here

Details of terms dates for this course can be found here

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Kingston University design graduate embarks on mission to halt decline of the humble hedgehog

Kingston University design graduate embarks on mission to halt decline of the humble hedgehog.

A keen conservationist and up-coming-designer has turned her talents to devising a shelter for hedgehogs.

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