Course Title: Design Studies 1 (Furniture Design)

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Design Studies 1 (Furniture Design)

Credit Points: 12.00

Important Information:

Please note that this course may have compulsory in-person attendance requirements for some teaching activities.  

To participate in any RMIT course in-person activities or assessment, you will need to comply with RMIT vaccination requirements which are applicable during the duration of the course. This RMIT requirement includes being vaccinated against COVID-19 or holding a valid medical exemption.  

Please read this RMIT Enrolment Procedure as it has important information regarding COVID vaccination and your study at RMIT:  

Please read the Student website for additional requirements of in-person attendance:  


Please check your Canvas course shell closer to when the course starts to see if this course requires mandatory in-person attendance. The delivery method of the course might have to change quickly in response to changes in the local state/national directive regarding in-person course attendance. 


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


320T Architecture & Urban Design


Sem 1 2008,
Sem 1 2009,
Sem 1 2010,
Sem 1 2011,
Sem 1 2012,
Sem 1 2013,
Sem 1 2014,
Sem 1 2015,
Sem 1 2017,
Sem 1 2018,
Sem 1 2019


City Campus


375T Vocational Design and Social Context


Sem 1 2020,
Sem 1 2021


City Campus


515T Creative Industries


Sem 1 2022,
Sem 1 2023,
Sem 2 2023

Course Coordinator: Julian Pratt

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 4820

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 71.02.02

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

Design Studies 1 (Furniture Design) opens up the historical, theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of the Furniture Design discipline. Here you are encouraged to explore and experiment with theoretical concepts, and to become curious and rigorous in the ways in which they approach and appreciate design and its role in shaping our ideas of the world.
Furniture design has a rich western historical tradition that is accessible to students in many ways. Historical investigations offered in these tutorial projects will focus on the construction of historical understandings and narratives of histories of furniture design that fall outside the dominant design discourse. A particular emphasis will be given to global furniture design histories by way of case studies and access to various local historical collections.
The core aim of the Design Studies 1 (Furniture Design) is to aid in the development of a critical awareness crucial to your contribution to the world as designers and as citizens. The emphasis here is not on ‘designing’ but coming to understand the structures and systems that make the world what it is, and by implication prescribe our ways of operating in it. Design Studies 1 (Furniture Design) is about ideas, thinking and questioning. It is about finding a voice, listening to others and exploring from a broad range of perspectives from a diverse, and eclectic, mix of theory.
Through this course you will start to develop analytical and research skills, including the ordering and interpretation of information and an ability to translate information into cohesive arguments. The key objective is to develop critical thinking abilities and encourage critical reflection. In a broader context, these skills will help you to critically challenge the status quo and provide the framework for design innovation. This may be reflected by the development of personal principles and an outlook that may champion or challenge the traditional roles of the furniture designer.
You will develop a greater appreciation of the role of design in relation to other intellectual, cultural and commercial practices and will be able to conceptualise and carry out an in-depth and independent academic inquiry.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

In this course you will develop the following program learning outcomes:
• Explore materials and modern manufacturing methods to develop concepts to proposal or prototype for both local and international corporate or individual clients
• Apply and creatively adapt theoretical and technical knowledge and skills to your practice of furniture design
• Evaluate your own work, ideas and concepts, including self, peer and industry critique


Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:
• Investigate historical and cultural influences on the practice of furniture design
• Interpret information in an ordered and critical manner
• Critique peers work and to be critical and reflective of individual work
• Analyse and critique ideas, theories and propositions in the bodies of work from artist and designers
• Present findings and arguments in verbal, written and visual forms

Overview of Learning Activities

You will be engaged in learning that involves a range of activities:
• Topic specific seminars – space to introduce, explore and extend key course topics, theories and design projects
• Case studies – review, critique and analysis of bodies of work from artists and designers
• Research tasks – you will explore social, ethical, philosophical, economic and cultural perspectives of designing furniture in the 21st Century. You will undertake applied research in a design discourse in the areas of materials and client/market need.
• Group-based learning - group discussion, collaborative projects and peer critique
• Presentations - the communication of your ideas to peers, teachers and industry partners and clients
• Negotiated learning – during the course you will have the opportunity to negotiate project outcomes in consultation with your teachers

Design Studies requires significant amounts of reading, observing, talking to people and documenting encounters.

Overview of Learning Resources

Most of the study and its assessable outcomes will be learner directed and as such you will be largely responsible for your own learning resources. Some resources will be supplied for certain learning activities (specific readings etc) as the course unfolds. It is seen as essential that you develop a level of confidence in gathering learning resources that are appropriate in a rigorous and well-managed manner. Design Studies requires significant amounts of reading, observing, talking to people and documenting encounters.

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems.

The University Library has extensive resources for Furniture Design students. The Library has produced a subject guide that includes quality online and print resources for your studies

The Library provides guides on academic referencing and subject specialist help via your Liaison Librarian Mary Mavroudis

Overview of Assessment

You will be assessed on how well you meet the course’s learning outcomes and on your development against the program learning outcomes.

Assessment is primarily concerned with engendering rigorous and critical learning practices. The assessment method is geared toward that outcome, and demands that you develop reflective and open individual and peer appraisal practices. The assessment tasks will be framed around the demonstration of investigate and critical thinking through a mix of written, visual and oral submissions.

Feedback will be given on all assessment tasks.

If you have a long term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or the Equitable Learning Services if you would like to find out more.

Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies and procedures: