Furniture Design

Courses

  • Fall 2016

    ADVANCED FURNITURE STUDIO

    This is a required studio for seniors that develops advanced theory and practice in furniture design. Projects include experimental seating design and an introduction to upholstery techniques. Seniors develop a Degree Project Proposal along with a project that explores and tests the proposal.
    Major requirement; Furniture majors only
    Registration by Furniture department, course not available via web registration

    CABINETS, DOORS AND DRAWERS

    This course will provide an opportunity for students to design and make cabinets of various types with doors and drawers. Students will learn the subtleties of casework and fitting doors, drawers and hardware. While a wide range of design approaches from very simple to complex will be encouraged, this course will be an especially good opportunity for those students who wish to explore advanced woodworking.
    Elective; Furniture majors only. Permission of instructor required.

    CAD MODELING FOR FURNITURE DESIGNERS

    This course will provide students with a high level of competency and an increased sensitivity to the creative potential that CAD modeling presents to designers. Students will be introduced to the fundamental concepts and technologies of CAD using Rhinoceros. There will be expenses associated with outputting services (printing, rapid prototyping and/or CNC machining).
    Elective. Permission of instructor required.

    DESIGN & PROCESSES

    The junior studio expands and interprets the skills and concepts introduced in the sophomore studio. The primary focus of the semester is an experimentally based investigation of bending and forming techniques - molded plywood, bent lamination, steam bending, and vacuum-formed plastic. While focused on the use of wood and plastic materials, an experimental approach is expected in the studio. Students are encouraged to conceptually explore skills and materials to develop a personal design approach and studio practice. The semester culminates in a final design, in which students utilize learned techniques to create one-offs, objects intended for batch production or prototypes designed for production.
    Major requirement; Furniture majors only
    Registration by Furniture department, course not available via web registration

    DRAWING FURNITURE 2-D

    Drawing for Furniture 2D will focus on the ways in which drawing can help generate, evaluate and communicate design concepts. Students will be introduced to the conventions and techniques of technical drawing for Furniture Design while pursuing experiments that supplement and challenge established practices. Focus will be on two drawing systems, orthographic and paraline projection, working by hand and with computers.
    Major requirement; Furniture majors only
    Registration by Furniture department, course not available via web registration
    Mayline Rental: $150.00

    FORM IN METALS

    In this junior studio students are presented with the idea of using metal to develop furniture forms. While the primary metal used to investigate form is mild steel, properties and techniques are also presented that apply to stainless steel, aluminum, copper, brass and bronze. Students become proficient in TIG welding, and are introduced to arc welding, spot welding, gas welding, brazing and soldering. Basic structural properties of steel are investigated through a series of short projects designed to inform students of the appropriate forms and applications. Basic and more advanced fabrication techniques, metal surface treatments, as well as metal finishing are also topics of class demonstrations.
    Major requirement; Furniture majors only
    Registration by Furniture department, course not available via web registration

    FURNITURE THESIS SEMINAR

    This graduate seminar is organized in parallel with the Graduate Furniture Design Thesis studio for the purpose of guiding the written thesis document. The goal is to provide students with a focused opportunity to map their thesis projects and to create the document that supports their studio practice and body of work known as the thesis.

    GRADUATE FURNITURE DESIGN I

    This course concentrates on the exploration of personal design aesthetics and the development of furniture projects that exhibit a high degree of technical proficiency.
    Graduate major requirement; Furniture majors only
    Registration by Furniture department, course not available via web registration

    GRADUATE FURNITURE DESIGN III

    This course concentrates on projects that begin the thesis body of work. Advanced design and technical processes are continued as part of this process.
    Graduate major requirement; Furniture majors only
    Registration by Furniture department, course not available via web registration

    PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE AND PORTFOLIO

    This class will focus on professional presentation with regards to all aspects of your work including visual portfolio, artist statement, resume and clear articulate correspondence. With a basic understanding of what you are trying to achieve combined with a philosophy of how you will achieve it, this course will help equip you with the foundation to deal with the business of making a living from your art.
    Major requirement; Furniture majors only
    Registration by Furniture department, course not available via web registration

    RESEARCH ELECTIVE

    Students will research specific furniture themes and materials in a variety of contexts including external partnerships.
    Major required elective with adequate wood studio experience
    Permission of department head required

    SOPHOMORE STUDIO METHODS

    This studio course introduces materials commonly used in furniture making and the foundation skills necessary to integrate them into furniture. Emphasis is on techniques, structures and materials properties. These are integrated with theoretical exercises that focus on design.
    Major requirement; Furniture majors only
    Registration by Furniture department, course not available via web registration
    Tool Rental: $150.00

    TEXTILES TRANSFORMING INTO FURNITURE

    This research course focuses on the experimentation with soft materials utilizing techniques of textile construction to create functional furniture with structural integrity. This course will rely on teamwork between Furniture Design and Textile students to take advantage of each other's expertise in furniture making and textile construction.

    In the beginning of the course students will be introduced to examples of contemporary furniture design, which use soft materials in unconventional ways to create unexpected forms and experiences. Reading will be assigned that covers these contemporary examples in detail. Parallel to this students will be exposed to weaving and knitting techniques, but should also consider other techniques for example crocheting, knotting, basket weaving etc. Students are encouraged to alter these techniques according to their needs to discover unique design solutions. Additionally, students will be introduced to unconventional materials not necessarily associated with furniture to generate innovative results. Substructures constructed out of solid materials can be used to provide rigidity as well as glue/resin to reinforce soft materials. Since this course focuses on material research, students are expected to engage in sustained in-depth inquiry, which should be documented in a meaningful way through out the entire process.

    There is a possibility that some of the work created in this course will be part of a public exhibition. In order to consider work from this course for a public exhibition, a high level of execution and professionalism is expected.
    Major elective
    Registration by Textiles, course not available via web registration

    Fee: $125.00

    Wintersession 2017

    EXPLORING UPHOLSTERY FROM THE BASICS TO THE EXTREME

    This course will focus on the art of upholstery design. It will teach the basics of traditional techniques and materials; cover historic influences; and explore methods used in mass production. The course will also examine extreme upholstery and the use of nontraditional materials and unconventional methods. There will be an emphasis on ergonomics including shaping, angles, and scale and how upholstery transforms the frame and affects the user. This is a hands-on class and will include multiple upholstery projects culminating in a full-scale final project.

    Estimated Cost of Material: $100.00
    Elective for Majors; Open to Nonmajors.
    Permission of instructor required

    INTRODUCTION TO FURNITURE

    This course will be an introduction to the skills and techniques for furniture design. The primary focus will be on developing innovative concepts through drawing and model-making. Simple hand tool techniques and basic woodworking machinery will be introduced. Exercises in sketching, model-making and various design strategies will aid in developing an understanding of materials and processes, culminating in two substantial products. Through a series of informative presentations, hands-on lectures, technical demonstrations, and short project assignments, students will explore the relationships between concepts, techniques and built objects.

    LIGHTWEIGHT STRUCTURE

    Championed by utopian thinkers of the 20th century like Buckminster Fuller and Frei Otto, the idea of "doing more with less" has become ingrained in the development of new building systems. Design for vehicles, extreme environments, and sports have pushed the field of lightweight structures along, creating a vast array of new materials and building techniques. This course will examine lightweight structures through the lens of material research and exploration. Emphasis will be placed on developing assembly systems that are integral to the particular materials being explored. Topics introduced in this course will include but not be limited to tensile structures, space frames, pneumatic structures, tensegrity, frozen fabrics and the various form finding strategies associated with each. This course will also examine the various ways that this topic can be approached through both physical and digital model making. Computer modeling experience is preferred, but not required.

    METALS FOR FURNITURE DESIGN

    This course is an appropriate introduction to furniture design in metal. The goal of this course is to introduce students to the basic techniques of metal fabrication as they apply to furniture design. Design issues will be resolved through a series of drawings and models and welding skills will be honed through several preliminary projects. Students will be expected to complete a piece of furniture.
    Estimated Material Cost: $75.00

    SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP

    This course introduces students to ideas of social entrepreneurship, globalization and new models of collaboration as they relate to contemporary craft and design practice. It offers an opportunity to explore craft and design in the global marketplace and through exposure to real world initiatives strengthen students' understanding and critical abilities.

    The course also considers a variety of media including ceramics, furniture and metalwork. Based on experience a range of material explorations are possible. Students' will be asked to create a proposal and a related artifact for one of the manufacturers, retailers or studios represented by the guest lecturers in the course.

    The guest lecturers via Skype include Enrico Bressan (Artecnica, USA), Edward Tugenhadt (USAID/Carana, USA), Gunjan Gupta (Wrap Studio, India), Maham Anjum (Jamie Oliver and Habitat, UK and Pakistan) along with the Ritu Sethi of The Craft Revival Trust (India), and, Jocelyn Dow (Liana Cane and Department of Forestry, Guyana). These conversations will provide 'on the ground' insights into how cross cultural craft and design projects are developed, implemented and sustained as well as outlining some of the issues that designers, craft producers and artisan communities encounter in the process.

    UPCYCLED FURNITURE

    We are living in a rapidly changing material world full of mass-produced goods creating overwhelming waste. As a designer or an artist who creates objects out of various materials is important to understand the impact of these chosen materials in terms of their global impact.

    'Upcycling', contrary to 'Recycling', is defined by Antonia Edwards in her book as the practice of converting something disposable into something of greater use and value, preventing the waste of potentially useful materials by utilizing existing ones and lessening the need to use new materials.

    This studio course will consist of various projects and seminars that will explore the uses of upcycled materials. The course will focus on sourcing and collecting materials, reevaluating them for potential use for projects, culminating in a greater understanding of furniture and object making. At the beginning of each project, a series of short presentations will be given to prompt the development of students' concepts, techniques and understanding. Student will engage in investigating the upcycling of unconventional material through research and experimentation in assigned projects.
    Estimated Materials Cost: $50.00

    Spring 2017

    COMPREHENSIVE SUSTAINABILITY THINKING

    This research elective will focus on the myriad opportunities for the sustainable practice of design. The somewhat humbling point of departure is the fact that many, if not all, of the problems we currently face are the direct result of previous design solutions. There are numerous topics to cover under each of the following domains: Material, Economic, Social, Spiritual and Domain of Life. Our aim is to produce a "How To" for a sustainable design process that could be applied to any design or craft practice. The focus of the class will be on the specifics of the practice of furniture design and production.
    Open to Juniors and above

    DESIGN & PROCESSES

    The junior studio expands and interprets the skills and concepts introduced in the sophomore studio. The primary focus of the semester is an experimentally based investigation of bending and forming techniques - molded plywood, bent lamination, steam bending, and vacuum-formed plastic. While focused on the use of wood and plastic materials, an experimental approach is expected in the studio. Students are encouraged to conceptually explore skills and materials to develop a personal design approach and studio practice. The semester culminates in a final design, in which students utilize learned techniques to create one-offs, objects intended for batch production or prototypes designed for production.
    Major requirement; Furniture majors only
    Registration by Furniture department, course not available via web registration

    DESIGN FOR PRODUCTION

    Long known as the "Beehive" of industry, Providence RI is one of the most diverse manufacturing hubs in the US. Although today's global market continues to absorb these resources, Providence has retained a highly skilled manufacturing center that is eager to work with the creative arts. This rare resource provides designers the unique ability to work locally with manufacturing re-sources from traditional lost wax casting to emerging manufacturing technologies such as laser cutting, multi-axis cnc, and rapid prototyping. Throughout the course we will visit manufacturing, marketing, and retail facilities to develop a working understanding of production processes and methods available to you and how best to effectively implement these resources into your work as a designer/artist. The studio course will conclude with each student presenting a finished production ready object in multiples along with supporting marketing materials. By approaching this class from a design, manufacturing, and marketing perspective students will acquire a practical knowledge of production strategies essential to the success of a designer today.
    Permission of instructor required
    Elective

    DRAWING FURNITURE 3-D

    This course continues drawing and concept development techniques, sketching with three-dimensional models, mock-ups and prototypes. Working in several scales and levels of articulation, students will expand pre-visualization and detailing skills. Basics of 3-D computer simulation will also be introduced.
    Major requirement; Furniture majors only
    Registration by Furniture department, course not available via web registration

    FORM IN METALS

    In this junior studio students are presented with the idea of using metal to develop furniture forms. While the primary metal used to investigate form is mild steel, properties and techniques are also presented that apply to stainless steel, aluminum, copper, brass and bronze. Students become proficient in TIG welding, and are introduced to arc welding, spot welding, gas welding, brazing and soldering. Basic structural properties of steel are investigated through a series of short projects designed to inform students of the appropriate forms and applications. Basic and more advanced fabrication techniques, metal surface treatments, as well as metal finishing are also topics of class demonstrations.
    Major requirement; Furniture majors only
    Registration by Furniture department, course not available via web registration

    GRADUATE FURNITURE DESIGN II

    This course explores advanced design processes and methods of construction. The evolution of a project through a complete design process is required including conceptual and design development phases.
    Graduate major requirement; Furniture majors only
    Registration by Furniture department, course not available via web registration

    GRADUATE FURNITURE DESIGN SEMINAR

    The graduate seminar is a forum for discussion and research outside of the studio setting. Through a series of topical investigations, lectures, presentations, and field trips, students will explore current design issues, professional practices, directions, and developments within the field, and other topics that will help to formulate the basis of the graduate thesis work.
    Graduate major requirement; Furniture majors only
    Registration by Furniture department, course not available via web registration
    Elective for senior, fifth-year; Nonmajors with permission of instructor

    GRADUATE FURNITURE DESIGN THESIS

    This course culminates the completion of the thesis body of works and accompanying written document.
    Graduate major requirement; Furniture majors only
    Registration by Furniture department, course not available via web registration

    HISTORY OF FURNITURE

    This course is an introductory survey of the history of furniture. An emphasis is placed on developing a methodology for understanding historical context and transferable critical thinking through furniture. The fundamental methodology presents furniture design as an expression of interdependent relationships involving technology, identity and culture. The course will include lectures, sketching, writing, discussion and exams as well as learning from direct observation of objects including many in the RISD Museum.
    Major requirement
    Art History credit for Furniture majors
    Liberal Arts elective credit for nonmajors on a space available basis
    Non majors permission of instructor required
    Spring restricted to students in Furniture Design

    LIGHTING DESIGN 101

    Lighting design is an ever-growing category of furniture and product design, constantly evolving alongside technological advances in available lamp hardware. This hands-on course is an opportunity for students to explore the various types of lamp options, including incandescent, halogen, fluorescent, and LED. Students are first provided with the technical skills and safety factors involved in creating and wiring a lamp, to adding more complicated items such as switches, dimmers, and hardware, and finally moving on to designing and creating a body of functional lighting pieces. We will cover various lamp typologies (sconces, floor lamps, table lamps, chandeliers, pendants, etc), as well as light as art through installation and sculpture. Students are encouraged to work in a variety of materials and scales, developing their designs from sketches, models, and renderings, to a fully realized object. Designs will evolve through in-class discussions, pin-ups, and critiques. This class will focus on the design and fabrication of lighting as an object in a space, rather than the lighting of a space.
    Estimated Material Cost: $50.00 - $100.00
    Permission of instructor required
    Elective for Majors and Non-Majors

    SENIOR DEGREE PROJECT

    Seniors will complete their final portfolio works in this studio. Seniors will design and execute a final degree project. The degree project will be individualized according to student interest.
    Major requirement; Furniture majors only
    Registration by Furniture department, course not available via web registration

    SOPHOMORE DESIGN/PRACTICE

    This sophomore studio expands basic principles of furniture design and material skills, exploring how the made objects interact with the human body. Intermediate skills will be demonstrated and practiced as students further explore materials and their applications in design.
    Major requirement; Furniture majors only
    Registration by Furniture department, course not available via web registration

    WITNESS TREE PROJECT

    Witness trees, as designated by the National Park Service, are long-standing trees that have "witnessed" key events, trends, and people in history. In this joint studio/liberal arts course, students have the unique opportunity to study and work with a fallen witness tree, shipped to RISD from a national historic site. The course will involve three components: 1) a field trip to the tree's site at the beginning of the semester; 2) classroom-based exploration of American history, memory, landscape, and material culture; and 3) studio-based building of a series of objects from the tree's wood, in response to both the site and students' classroom study. Overall, the course will explore both how material artifacts shape historical understanding and how historical knowledge can create meaningful design. Wood this year has been designated from the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site in Kinderhook, New York.
    Permission of instructor required

    Students will receive 3 credits in Furniture elective and 3 credits in HPSS, for a total of 6 credits
    A single fee of $100.00 will be charged for your concurrent registration in HPSS S732/FURN 2451 courses.