University of Technology Sydney

84610 Inside 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 2021 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.


Designed products play an important role in everyday activities. Products facilitate particular ways of doing things and make these activities pleasurable. In this way, they encourage us to incorporate particular habits and practices into our lives. They shape our identity, our possibilities, and our preferences. Product design both serves and shapes everyday patterns of life that have consequences for our ongoing sense of fulfilment, our health, and our impact on wider societal and environmental systems. Designers need to develop not only expertise in their craft, but also an insight into the ways that designed things shape human experience and impact more-than-human ecosystems.

This subject introduces students to current directions in product design practice, and into contemporary ways of thinking about the roles that products play in human lives and wider ecologies. An understanding of the impact of products in contemporary worlds is developed by reference to social theory, philosophy of technology and material semiotics. This material is introduced through a series of weekly lecture/workshop sessions. The craft of making is introduced through a six week Product Design studio. Skills necessary for the design of service systems and user experience pathways are introduced in a six week Product-Service-Systems studio. Together, the lecture/workshops and studios provide a broad introduction to the activities and understandings that underpin the practice of product design.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

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

1. Acquire discipline-specific ways of working relevant to a diversity of product design contexts, demonstrated through participation in research for design, group-work, studio-based concept development and prototyping, critical reflection on design ideas and products, and completion of design tasks.
2. Develop vocabulary, skills and knowledge to reflect critically on the roles played by products and product design in shaping everyday habits and practices, demonstrated through contributions to group discussions, in-class activities, and submissions.
3. Acquire preliminary skill in product design, demonstrated through the production of imaginative, engaging, and appropriate design propositions for both products and product-service systems.
4. Acquire introductory, discipline-specific, professional communication skills appropriate to both design process and presentation contexts.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

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

  • Demonstrated engagement with ideas and learning (A.1)
  • Value for alternative points of view (A.3)
  • Effective written and oral communication skills (C.1)
  • Effective visual communication skills (C.2)
  • Demonstrated ability for problem setting and problem solving (I.1)
  • Demonstration of versatility, curiosity and imagination (I.2)
  • Demonstration of aesthetic sensibility (I.3)
  • Ability to propose, develop and rethink ideas (I.4)
  • Accuracy, rigour and care (P.2)
  • Analyse complex contexts for design (R.2)
  • Reflective critical analysis (R.4)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

The term CAPRI is used for the five Design, Architecture adn Building faculty graduate attribute categories where:

C = communication and groupwork

A = attitudes and values

P = practical and professional

R = research and critique

I = innovation and creativity.

Inside Design encourages student learning directed to develop these graduate attributes. The course content, learning strategies and assessment structure is explicitly designed with these attributes in mind.

Teaching and learning strategies

Each week, before class, you will familiarise yourself with a range of different written and visual texts as directed by the weekly descriptions in the subject program below. These texts will inform in-class group discussions. Close engagement with required texts and video content prior to class is essential to effective participation and learning. Additionally, between weekly classes, you will either undertake research for design or develop design propositions, as specified in the weekly outline. This work must be brought to class for discussion.

You will participate in two activities each week; a practice-oriented studio (2.5hrs) and Design Philosophy / Sociology / Anthropology (Design PSA), which is a theory-oriented workshop (1.5hrs). Ideas introduced and discussed in Design PSA will inform developing understanding of practice in the studio. You will work in groups to discuss ideas and your developing design propositions. Tutors will give weekly in-class feedback, and assist in developing your ability to reflectively critique work by self and others. Feedback on your contribution to group-work will be provided via the Self and Peer Asessment (SPARK) system following assessable group-work sessions.

Full attendance is expected. If you are unwell or unable to attend, an explanatory email must be sent to the subject coordinator prior to class. Attendance on task presentation days is compulsory. If you are unable to complete your task on time, or you are unable to attend a task presentation, an eRequest asking for Special Consideration must be submitted via your Student Portal.

Content (topics)

Inside Design is composed of three key learning modules:

1) Design PSA - Philosophy / Sociology / Anthropology
Time-frame: 11 weeks (full semester)
Class format: 90 minute guided group discussion each week
Description: This module introduces key philosophical and sociological approaches to understanding design. Each week you will discuss the things that matter to designers; the nature of striving to create good designs; and ways to understand and interpret contexts of user experience.

2) Inside Product Design
Time-frame: 5 weeks designing & making + 1 week presentation & feedback (half semester)
Class format: 2.5 hour studio each week for 5 weeks, followed by a presentation week.
Description: This module provides an introduction to user-centered design, and the making of a product prototype. Over 5 weeks you are stepped through a design process to develop and prototype a product design.

Half of the year group will complete this module in the first half of the semester, and the other half of the year group will complete this module in the second half of the semester.

3) Inside Product-Service Systems
Time-frame: 5 weeks designing & making + 1 week presentation & feedback (half semester)
Class format: 2.5 hour studio each week for 5 weeks, followed by a presentation week.
?Description: This module introduces the design of user-centered product-service systems. Increasingly, 21st century products are encountered as part of a product-service system. We live amid networks within a service economy. In professional practice, product designers may shift their focus from the design of individual products to the envisioning of networks of products and experiences within a product-service system, and back again. For 5 weeks you are stepped through a user-centered process for designing a product-service system.

You will complete this module in the half of the semester that is not occupied by your Inside Product Design module.


Assessment task 1: Design PSA


Design P.S.A

Task 1 assesses:

  • your understanding of the concepts introduced through the readings, lectures and group-work exercises in Design PSA.
  • your team-work skills;
  • your communication skills.

This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2 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.):

A.1, C.1 and R.4

Type: Exercises
Groupwork: Group, group and individually assessed
Weight: 34%

Assessment items include:
6 x group work submissions, on Weeks 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9.

Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Demonstrated commitment to participation and active learning 40 1 A.1
Ability to analyse and synthesise complex ideas 40 2 R.4
Ability to communicate in clear, grammatically correct, and well composed written and visual arguments 20 4 C.1
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Assessment task 2: Product Design


Product Design Studio

Working individually, this project task will require you to investigate the emotions that belong to special environments and contexts. Existing products need to be analysed to identify the key aesthetic indicators that define a product as to elicit or possess a particular emotion as opposed to another. You are to demonstrate your understanding of the link between emotion and aesthetics by designing and constructing a three dimensional product. Full details of your design process and requirements are outlined on the task sheet.


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2 and 3

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.1, I.2, I.3, P.2, R.2 and R.4

Type: Project
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 33%

Assessment items include:

1. A finished 1:1 scale physical model.

2. A verbal presentation during class in week 6 or 12 in which you will need to present to the studio lecturer and rest of the class. No digital presentations and duration of max 5 minutes.

3. A design rationale providing justification for your design decisions related to your understanding of the contextual experience, emotion and aesthetic style. 1x A4 printed page - max 250 words.

Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Reveal insight into the experiences and the expectations of the user 15 1 R.2
Display versatility, curiosity and imagination in your design development process 20 3 I.2
Aesthetic sensibility in your design development process 20 3 I.3
Accuracy, rigour and care in making 20 1 P.2
Quality of reflective, critical analysis 15 2 R.4
Completion of pre-class preparatory activities, attendance and participation in class. 10 1 A.1
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Assessment task 3: Product-Service System Design


Product-Service System Design

This project will require you to work in teams. Your task is to design a product-service solution that answers the needs of your user and the relevant stakeholders. As a team you are to demonstrate a holistic understanding of the context and its stakeholders and draw insight from this understanding.

Insights will allow you to form problem statements that enable the team to focus its energy on creating value in, or solving for, the appropriate opportunity area. This allows you to co-create a solution that works for your user and all stakeholders involved. As a team you will have to demonstrate your capabilities at each stage of the design process in forming a human centred, conscious and joined up design of products, systems and experiences.


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2, 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.):

A.3, C.2, I.1, I.2, I.4 and R.2

Type: Project
Groupwork: Group, group and individually assessed
Weight: 33%


You are to choose a context that will form your group for this project. As a group you are to complete the double diamond design process; Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver.

Assessment items include:

A short weekly presentation to the class. This will evidence the completion of, and reflection on activities and methods within each stage of the design process.

A verbal presentation and or demonstration of your design and design solution and the process you took to get there. This will be done during class in week 6 or 12 (depending on which group you are in). You will need to present to the studio lecturer and rest of the class. Max duration of 10 minutes.

A physical artefact or combination of artefacts produced to support the presentation and or demonstration of the design solution.

Completion of all SPARK reviews.

Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Demonstration of effective research into service and user context. 15 1 R.2
Ability to generate insightful problem statements, demonstrating insight into existing user experiences and expectations. 15 1 I.1
Ability to imaginatively reframe scenarios for user engagement and experience. 15 3 I.2
Ability to test ideas, and gain insightful feedback from potential users. 15 1 A.3
Ability to develop an imaginative, engaging proposal, that builds on understandings gained through user testing. 15 3 I.4
Ability to critically reflect upon the design proposal as a response to insights gained throughout the design process. 15 2 C.2
Ability to effectively communicate the design process and outcome. 10 4 C.2
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Required texts

Essential readings will be available via UTS Online as eReadings from UTS Library. These will be drawn from the following texts:

Latour, B., 1992, "Where are the missing masses?The sociology of a few mundane artifacts." In Shaping technology/building society, W. Bijker & J. Law (eds.), The MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.

Lupton, E., 1996, "The Electric Carving Knife." In Stud: architectures of masculinity. Princeton Architectural Press: New York.

Michael, M., 2000, Reconnecting culture, technology and nature: from society to heterogeneity, Routledge: London and New York.

Sterling, B., 2005, Shaping Things, The MIT Press: Cambridge MA.



Drawing, sketching and note-taking

  • Baskinger, M. and Bardel, W., 2013, Drawing ideas: a hand-drawn approach for better design, Watson-Guptill Publications: New York.
    • Call Number: 741.2 BASK
  • Rohde, M. 2013, The Sketchnote Handbook: The illustrated guide to visual note taking, Peachpit Press: United States of America
    • Call Number: 651.74 ROHD
  • Wallschlaeger, C., Busic-Snyder, C. and Morgan, M. 1992, Basic visual concepts and principles for artists, architects, and designers, Wm. C. Brown Publishers: Dubuque, Iowa
    • Call Number: 701/202


Reference texts – exemplary product design

  • Phaidon design classics, Phaidon: New York & London, 2006
    • Call Number: 745.203 PHAI [1]
  • Fiell, C. and Fiell, P. 2000, Industrial design A-Z, Taschen: Köln.
    • Call Number: 745.209 FIEL (2006.ED)
  • Fiell, C. and Fiell, P. 2001, Designing the 21st century = Design des 21. Jahrhunderts = Design du 21e siècle, Taschen: Köln & London.
    • Call Number: 745.2 FIEL
  • Lees-Maffei, G. 2014, Iconic designs: 50 stories about 50 things, Bloomsbury: London & New York.
    • Call Number 745.4 ICON
  • Lidwell, W. and Manacsa, G. 2009, Deconstructing product design: exploring the form, function, usability, sustainability, and commercial success of 100 amazing products, Rockport Publishers: Beverly, MA.
    • Call Number: 745.2 LIDW
  • Pilloton, E. 2009, Design Revolution: 100 products that are changing people's lives, Thames & Hudson: United Kingdom.
    • Call Number: 745.5 PILL

Monographs on particular designers & groups of designers

  • Bohm, F. 2005, KGID (Konstantin Grcic Industrial Design), Phaidon: London.
    • Call Number: 745.2092 GRCB
  • Cornwell, S. 2000, Ripe: new design in Australia, Craftsman House: North Ryde, N.S.W.
    • Call Number: 745.4 CORN
  • McCormack, L. 2005, Designers are wankers, About Face Publishing: London.
    • Call Number: 745.2023 MCCO
  • Rams, D. 2011, Less and more: the design ethos of Dieter Rams, Gestalten: Berlin
    • Call Number: 741.6092 RAMU (2011.ED)


  • Artichoke: quarterly journal from the Design Institute of Australia
    • Call Number: 745.4499405 ARTI


Getting started:

  • Heufler, G. 2005, Design basics: from ideas to products, Niggli Verlag: Zurich
    • Call Number: 745.2 HEUF
  • Slack, L. 2006, What is product design? RotoVision: Mies, Switzerland
    • Call Number: 745.2094 SLAC
  • Kolko, J. 2014, Well-designed: how to use empathy to create products people love, Harvard Business Review Press: Boston, MA
    • Call Number: 658.5 KOLK
  • Stickdorn, M. and Schneider, J. 2011, This is Service Design Thinking, Wiley
    • Call Number: 658.812 STIC
  • Souter, N. and Billout, G. 2007, Breakthrough Thinking: Using Creativity to Solve Problems, Ilex: Lewes
    • Call Number: 153.35 SOUT

Going further:

  • Hekkert, P. and van Dijk, M. 2011, Vision in Design: a guidebook for innovators, BIS: Amsterdam
    • Call Number: 658.5752 VISI
  • Jordan, P.W. 2000, Designing pleasurable products: an introduction to the new human factors, Taylor & Francis: London
    • Call Number: 745.2 JORD & Online via UTS library
  • Kimbell, L. 2014, The Service Innovation Handbook, BIS Publishers: Amsterdam
    • Call Number: 658.812 KIMB
  • Norman, D.A. 1990, Psychology of everyday things, Doubleday: New York.
    • Call Number: 620.82 NORM & Online via UTS Library
  • Norman, D.A. 2004, Emotional design : why we love (or hate) everyday things, Basic Books: New York.
    • Call Number: 155.911 NORM
  • Norman, D.A. 2006, The design of future things, Basic Books: New York.
    • Call Number: 745.2 NORM & Online via UTS Library
  • Polaine, A., Lovlie, L. and Reason, B. 2013, Service Design: from insight to implementation, Rosenfeld Media: Brooklyn, New York
    • Call Number: 658.812 POLA
  • Stoll, H.W. 1999, Product design methods and practices, Marcel Dekker: New York
    • Call Number: 745.2 STOL

Other resources

This and other online videos and texts, will be linked through UTS Online.