Understanding through making

Julian Lindley, Richard Adams, John Beaufoy, Stephen McGonigal

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper’s core theme is incorporating an empirical approach in the understanding of physical value(s) within Product Design (PD). It is a reaction too, and an acknowledgement of the changing nature of both the students previous experiences and the value of design to the modern world. With the former, some applicants lack the breadth of basic skills in drawing, making and experimentation. Indeed many lack a curiosity which is natural to design. This is in part due to the diminishing number of applicants from Foundation Courses in Art and Design (United Kingdom). These pre-degree courses encourage experimentation and play in understanding materials and structures. Another observation is that design has progressed beyond the production of artefacts to a process of problem identification and solving [1]. In this context Sustainability, Brand and Human Centred Design are all common themes within design curricula. However focusing on these in an already congested curriculum has left some of the basic skills and investigations lacking in students vocabulary and skills within design. This paper outlines a way in which an understanding of structures and objects can be achieved. Two projects are cited, firstly a project which gets students to think with their hands and make quickly. The second project builds on this experience with a mechanical design challenge, that of an Automata. The combination of these projects equips students with a preliminary understanding of construction, mechanics, materials and aesthetics. This is a starting point for understanding the physicality of artefacts underpinning PD Education.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2014
Event16th International Conference on Engineering Design and Product Education - University of Twente, Enschede, Netherlands
Duration: 4 Sept 20145 Sept 2014


Conference16th International Conference on Engineering Design and Product Education


  • product design
  • product design education
  • mechanics


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