University of Technology Sydney

84118 Informing Product Design

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2020 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Design, Architecture and Building: Design
Credit points: 6 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


This subject examines the historic and philosophical perspectives that have shaped contemporary integrated product design. Students are introduced to research methods and use these skills collaboratively to inform practice-based projects. The subject involves a series of interactive lectures, design studios, and the practical use of machinery and tools in the fabrication workshop. Research covers the period from the Industrial Revolution through to the present day to inform a thorough understanding of the evolution of the integrated product design profession.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

1. Research and synthesise information from a range of sources to inform a practical design solution.
2. Work with others in a methodical approach to design and research tasks.
3. Apply specific design skills including sketching, rendering, three-dimensional model making, visual communication and verbal presentation.
4. Utilise workshop tools and equipment to facilitate the construction of models and prototypes.
5. Understand of the evolution of the integrated product design profession applied in the form of a research poster presentation.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes to the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes:

  • Value for richly diverse and sustainable human cultures and environmental ecologies (A.4)
  • Effective written and oral communication skills (C.1)
  • Effective visual communication skills (C.2)
  • Effective tangible 3D representation (C.3)
  • Ability to work in teams and in multi-disciplinary contexts (C.4)
  • Demonstration of aesthetic sensibility (I.3)
  • Identify and execute research methods appropriate to the project (R.1)
  • Reflective critical analysis (R.4)

Teaching and learning strategies

This subject uses an inquiry-based learning strategy that involves students in researching and developing their own solutions to complex design challenges. The subject uses design professionals as studio leaders and guest lecturers to ensure that all content and tasks are relevant to current professional practice in a global context. The subject combines a one hour interactive lecture session and a two hour studio per week. The interactive lecture sessions will provide knowledge, relevant to the subject, and that will enable students to work on their design projects. The knowledge provided includes information on the principles of research methods and how they are applied to Integrated Product Design. Prior to key lectures, students will be required to prepare questions or complete tasks for the lecturer relating to the weekly lecture content, and the design projects they are working on. Students will be able to do this by reviewing reference material relevant to each interactive lecture session. The weekly lecture topic and where to find reference materials is listed in the Program. In the studios, students will work on their design projects with a studio leader. At the beginning of each studio the studio leader will discuss with the entire group the challenges they are facing with their projects.

Groupwork: Students will form research pairs for part of the subject and learn to work together to research and synthesise data about a product to present an A2 research poster. In the practical sessions students facing similar challenges will form small groups to facilitate collaborative problem solving. The studio leader will assist providing weekly verbal feedback. Students will also be supported by the level 2, Fabrication Workshop in the construction of presentation models and or prototypes.

Feedback: This subject includes active learning experiences where ongoing feedback is provided weekly in all on campus engagements including interactive lecture sessions, practical workshops and studios. It is therefore imperative that students attend all on campus engagements. It shall be the students responsibility to record any feedback provided in studio. During studio ‘pin-up’ presentations of work students will be expected to actively participate in collaborative peer review of each others work. Grades, marks and feedback on final design submissions will be provided through the REVIEW online assessment system.

Content (topics)

  • Information retrieval and research
  • Design history
  • Design movements and styles
  • Influential designers and their effects on society and culture
  • Design philosophy
  • Design process
  • Sketching and rendering
  • Construction of three-dimensional models
  • Visual communication


Assessment task 1: Design Protagonists



Since the Industrial Revolution, the profession we recognise as Industrial Design has played a key role in the evolution of people, culture and societies. When a new material is discovered or a manufacturing process is perfected or a group of people change their way of working, design has reconfigured objects in our environment in response to these changes. The protagonists responsible for significant change can be analysed and much information can be extracted as to the context, methods and materials that were evident at the time. Understanding this is essential and can provide an excellent framework for the study of design today.


Design a wireless bluetooth speaker that captures and synthesises an influencial designer’s style and design philosophy.


Each student will be assigned an influential designer and they will conduct a thorough investigation of that designer. Study the products that were designed, the materials and manufacturing processes used, the period in time in which their objects were conceived trying to identify how social and technological change influenced the designs. Furthermore, you should be able to uncover or infer elements of their design philosophy (the reasons for design decision making) and it is this information that will be paramount for directing design decisions that you will make in the course of your own design project.

Once a design has been finalised and students have presented concepts and sketch models they will be required to produce visual boards and a beautifully made appearance model of their final design. There are no restrictions on technologies, materials or manufacturing processes and the maximum build size (volume) of the model is 150 x 150 x 150mm.


Project 1 Part A Concept Design
A minimum of three 3 x A3 concept boards are required for this presentation. You will be required to demonstrate an ability to communicate your design intent through annotated orthographic and perspective drawings. Only hand drawn images, diagrams and text are allowed in this project. The use of computers for graphic or text elements is strictly prohibited. Boards are to be A3 size, so do not glue 2 A4 pages together to form an A3 page. DUE week 3.

Project 1 Part B Sketch Models
1:1 sketch models are required for this stage. Sketch models are to be made from paper, card, foam-core or foam, the use of other materials is allowed only after consultation with the lecturer. A minimum of 3 iterations are required for presentation. DUE week 5

Project 1 Part C Appearance Model
Students will be given access to the DAB Fabrication Workshop in studio and are encouraged to make use of the facilities and workshop staff expertise. The brief is asking for a ‘presentation or appearance model’, which implies a representation of the final design and not a manufactured item. You are encouraged to use ureol as the main material to construct your model along with other materials available in the workshop. You should strive to complete the model to a high standard with the application of paint and graphics. Due week 8 hand-in only.

NOTE: Take photos of your model prior to submitting, you will need this for you final presentation.

Project 1 Part D Presentation Boards

2 x A3 boards are required. You will need to communicate your design intent through renderings and/or photographs of your final design (photographs of your final model can be re-touched using photoshop). All images must be annotated. DUE week 10

Project 1 Part E Verbal Presentation

Verbal Presentations will occur during studio. Each student will present to the studio leader and studio group for a maximum of 3 minutes. No digital presentations will be allowed. DUE week 10

NOTE: Whenever the page size A3 is mentioned that is finished size of 420 x 297mm, mounted or unmounted.


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

3 and 4

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

C.2, C.3 and I.3

Type: Project
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 50%
Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Part 1. Strength of the visual communication demonstrated in the conceptual design and prototyping during the development stages of the project. 20 3 C.2
Part 2. Degree of design and craftsmanship of the appearance model with regards to accuracy, materials, form, details and finish. 40 4 C.3
Part 3. Synthesis of the designer's style and philosophy evident in the presentation boards and verbal presentation 40 4 I.3
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Assessment task 2: Design Evolution


Looking at the evolution of a product typology can be useful tool in understanding the profession of Industrial Design. The impact a product has on society can be revealing, both in terms of positive and negative consequences. Some products have stood the test of time and remained constant participants in our lives. A deeper understanding of this can better inform designers on strategies for new product development.

Developing an ability to uncover information through research is vital. Various research methodologies, strategies and techniques are of core importance in obtaining, analysing and understanding research data and its implications for Industrial Design.


To research a product typology and assemble a visual history of that product in the form of an A2 poster.

In studio class students will form pairs and be assigned a product. Each pair is required to research and then produce a visual history of that product. This visual history can be described as a map, timeline or infographic for the assigned product as situated within an Australian context. It would be worthwhile to explore some of the following factors:

  • brand/model
  • designer
  • date the product was introduced into the Australian market
  • location of manufacture
  • evolution of form/aesthetic style
  • design elements/design features
  • designs/variants that dominated or were highly successful in the market and why
  • interaction/ritual of use
  • effects on user behaviour
  • effects on culture
  • adverstising/product photography relating to the product
  • reflect on the roles of men and women using the product
  • technological change

The internet will prove a useful place to find information, however, to successfully complete this project other sources such as: books, trade journals and popular magazines will need to be researched to enable diverse and pertinent information to be found. Your own personal contacts (family and friends) may prove a useful resource in assembling your visual history. If possible, take your own photographs actual products. Spending time in libraries will be necessary to successfully complete this project, therefore managing your workload and personal life so that you have enough time available to conduct library research is a fundamental concern.


  • 1 x A2 poster in hardcopy format for pin up at the presentation. DUE week 12
  • 1 x A2 PDF (maximum 5Mb) to be submitted on UTSOnline. REMEMBER to name your file with NAME, SURNAME and STUDENT NUMBER. DUE midnight October 16.

Note: All your information (this includes images) must be appropriately referenced using the UTS Harvard System. Download the Interactive Harvard UTS Referencing guide from the UTS Library website for more information.


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2, 3 and 5

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

C.1, C.4, R.1 and R.4

Type: Design/drawing/plan/sketch
Groupwork: Group, individually assessed
Weight: 30%
Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Demonstration of UTS Harvard referencing techniques. 10 1 R.4
Depth of research evident in the poster design. 30 5 R.1
Visual design quality of the poster. 30 3 C.4
Demonstrated committed engagement to group work. 30 2 C.1
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Assessment task 3: Design History Folio



The important skill of sketching is often overlooked by Integrated Product Design students as being irrelevant. The development of hand drawing skills is still today a vital component in the suite of design tools a designer must possess for both the recording and communication of information. Communication to a client, colleague, or manufacturer often involves impromptu meetings and discussions that will require the designer to think and perform on the spot, almost always sketching his/her ideas or solutions.


To practice the skills of drawing and annotation through the creation of an A3 portfolio to reinforce an understanding of design history.


Beginning in week 1, during each lecture you are to take notes and make sketches recording the key insights. This might include: design styles, names of key designs/objects, dates, influential designers, drivers of technological change and effects on society and culture. From those notes and sketches (after the lecture) you are to produce 1 x A3 page with an emphasis on visual presentation. Use sketches combined with annotations to explore and present that weeks content. For example, a lecture might focus on Art Deco style and so for your folio page you should sketch three or four pertinent objects with annotations for the object title, date of manufacture, country of origin, designer/maker as well as a short thematic description of that design style. You are not required to recount the full content of each lecture.

What you chose to record is going to be personal to you and so marking criteria focuses on quality of visual presentation and completeness of the portfolio rather than the specific examples that you have chosen. The chosen manner of artistic expression that you choose to use is open but ensure each page is a concise communication. These pages are to be completed by hand including all sketches and annotations. Scanned images, photocopies and the use of computer manipulated information is strictly prohibited.


  • The Design History Folio will cover content delivered in 10 lectures beginning in week 1
  • All pages to be A3 in size
  • Provide a lecture title and week number for each folio page
  • All pages compiled inside an A3 folder and submitted to your studio leader, don't forget to put your name on your folder.

Assessment task 3 requires no verbal presentation, that is, hand-in only during studio. DUE in week 11.


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:


This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

A.4 and C.4

Type: Portfolio
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 20%
Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Effective visual presentation demonstrated through the quality and accuracy of annotated sketches. 50 3 C.4
Committed engagement shown through completion of all portfolio pages. 50 3 A.4
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Minimum requirements

The DAB attendance policy requires students to attend no less than 80% of formal teaching sessions (lectures and tutorials) for each class they are enrolled in to remain eligible for assessment.

Recommended texts

Texts covering design styles, objects and culture

Baker, F. and Baker, K. (2000). C 20th furniture. London: Carlton.

Byars, M. (2001). The best tables, chairs, lights. Crans-Près-Céligny: RotoVision.

Fiell, C., Fiell, P. and Fiell, P. (2006). Industrial design A-Z. Koln: Taschen.

Fiell, C., Fiell, P., Philippi, S. and Uppenbrock, S. (2005). 1000 chairs. Köln: Taschen.

Fletcher, A. (2006). Phaidon design classics. London [u.a.]: Phaidon.

Hanks, D., Hoy, A. and Eidelberg, M. (2000). Design for living. Montréal: Lake St. Louis Historical Society.

Sparke, P. (2004). An introduction to design and culture. London: Routledge.

Texts covering model making and prototyping

Hallgrimsson, B. (2012). Prototyping and modelmaking for product design. London: Laurence King Pub.

Texts covering drawing and rendering

Eissen, K. and Steur, R. (2011). Sketching. Amsterdam: BIS.

Henry, K. (2012). Drawing for product designers. London: Laurence King Pub.

Olofsson, E. and Sjölén, K. (2005). Design sketching. [Umeå, Sweden]: KEEOS Design Books.

Robertson, S. and Bertling, T. (2013). How to draw. California: Design Studio Press

Robertson, S. and Bertling, T. (2014). How to render. California: Design Studio Press

Texts covering visual communication principles

Lupton, E. and Phillips, J. (2008). Graphic design, the new basics. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.

Müller-Brockmann, J. (1996). Grid systems in graphic design. Sulgen [u.a.]: Niggli.

Texts covering ergonomic principles

Tilley, A. (2002). The measure of man and woman. New York: Wiley.

Pheasant, S. (1996). Bodyspace. London: Taylor & Francis.

Texts covering manufacturing processes

Thompson, R. (2007). Manufacturing processes for design professionals. New York: Thames & Hudson.