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Academic year
Didactic period
Primo Semestre

Training objectives

The Concept Design Laboratory, at the second academic year, aims to direct students in dealing with critical and design tools, through which to understand the articulated reality where designers are operating. The laboratory strengthens previous year knowledge about design method, increasing the complexity of the processes and the multidisciplinarity, to arrive at the conceptualization of a product-system.

The course program comprises frontal lessons and design workshops, marked by regular revisions, adopting a work method similar to the one used in the professional activity.

The main target of the course is to provide the students necessary skills for the production of a Concept Design, starting from the briefing up to the final stage of representation and communication.

The Graphic Design module proposes an in-depth analysis on some technical and methodological aspects of visual design, as well as ensuring and stimulating the knowledge of the visual communication subject. Issues related to typographic design, the identity design process Concept will be examined in connection with the themes developed by the Concept Design laboratory.


It is necessary to have acquired and assimilated the following knowledge:

- Expertise to convey ideas through hand drawings and other free representation techniques (i. e. design mock-ups)

- Adequate capacity to use writing, graphics and layout softwares tools

- Ability in organizing creative and conceptual processes during the design, through a logical and analytical method.

Course programme

Course contents
- Stages of work
The laboratory will be methodologically organized through three macro-phases of work: RESEARCH, CONCEPT, DETAIL, which will see the use of descriptive tools, exercises, collective comparisons, site inspections, guests.
- Introduction of the course
The Concept Laboratory will open with a general presentation on the aims of the Laboratory, on how to carry it out and on the introduction of the proposed design theme.
- Research and data collection phase
The laboratory will start with a first phase of research, analysis and collection of useful data for concpet processing on the theme of the project launched. The research work will focus on the historical, cultural, environmental and social characteristics of the context of interest, on the identification and definition of the user targets of the context in question and on the related needs (habits, needs), the research work will be extended to mapping of characteristic signs and types of objects present in the context.
This first phase of research will lead students to the elaboration of the first ideas (project intentions) that will be conveyed in a sort of meta-design ‘corridor’ within which to select the project concepts to be developed in detail.
- Concept phase
It is a fluid phase in which the contents of the concept are processed, compared with reality, adapted to the real needs, developed and translated into a form that is measured with functionalities designed and with the materials chosen.
- Detailed phase
Once the concept is focused, the project must be finalized. This phase will concern the study of a detail or a constructive system that characterizes the concept.
Graphic Design
explanation of the project PROGRAM; identity and communication of the LOGO; representation of CONCEPTUAL scenarios; development of the DESIGN project.

Project theme
The final exercise of the Concept Design Laboratory will adopt an urban space as a case study, within which to ask oneself about the multiple relationships that are established between the citizens-users, the symbolic value of the public space and the numerous filter-interfaces between services or simple urban communication. At the end of the conceptual exploration, some themes will be clearly identified to be declined in product systems, which will be investigated according to a structured design process.
The theoretical contributions and the exercises will have as a reference point the users, their needs and the interactions with complex systems, rather than the simple reference to an object to be designed.

The program of the Graphic Design course is divided into two stages: a first in which some consecutive exercises are planned between them starting from the observation and recognition of urban signs (lettering, urban interfaces, etc.) and ending with the ex novo design of the typography sample identified and redesigned within the urban context; a second, more preparatory and coaching moment for projects developed within the other module.

Didactic methods

The teaching activity will be divided into lectures, exercises, revisions, collective presentations and final exam-exhibition.
The lessons aim to provide students with technical and analytical tools for solving problems in the context of conceptualization and the genesis of projects, the correct presentation of works, as well as the acquisition of awareness of market strategies linked to the business world. Guests from the world of profession, culture and business will be invited to provide direct testimonies on the various facets of the project system.
Several case studies will be exposed and critically analyzed.

The teaching methodology will use the following tools:

- Field visits in order to get in touch with the complexity of the reality on which the project will have to operate

- Methodological exercises to refine the look on objects and the representation of ideas

- Realization of maquette as a study tool throughout the course of the laboratory

- Use of digital tools for desk research and for the representation of projects in advanced definition

For the exchange of educational material, digital shared folders will be used on the Google Drive platform, whose sharing methods will be specified during the course.

Regarding the Graphic Design module, the delivery of each exercise includes a small exposition of the projects designed with attached debate, to create a moment of reflection on the processes used. Alongside the planning phase that will take place mainly in the classroom, there will be a part of frontal lessons related to the identified themes.

Learning assessment procedures

Intermediate tests will be carried out in the form of exercises, which will focus on specific points of the program, in order to verify the degree of learning of the various topics covered.
A final exam will follow, based on the entire Concept Design process, to evaluate the training aspects acquired by the students.
This final test - in groups - will consist in the delivery and discussion with the teacher of a series of graphic drawings on the project theme.

In particular, during the examination, the student must communicate the project in the following ways:

- presentation of the final project

Each group will present their project to the whole class with slides in pdf format according to the specific indications that will be given in class.
Each group will have on the tables, in the form of a small exhibition, the drawings and scale models that will be requested.

- summary document - logbook

Each group will present their project to the whole class with slides in pdf format according to the specific indications that will be given in class.
Each group will have on the tables, in the form of a small exhibition, the drawings and scale models that will be requested.

- summary document - logbook

The document consists of a first part, dedicated to the exam project, which will include the various phases of approach to the project, summarized below: a) RESEARCH: research and in-depth study of the project theme - brand context, best practices, product and market trends; b) USERS: definition of user-type profiles, lifestyles and identification of user needs; c) BRIEF: explanation of the project program; d) BRAND: the definition of the brand related to the concept of the product being developed - competitors analysis, value proposition, family feeling, brand positioning, naming, brand identity; e) CONCEPT: description of the inspiration and design scenarios - mood boards, concept diagrams, users storyboards, renderings, maquettes, texts, materials palettes, details & technical drawings

The second part of the document collects the various exercises (single and group) carried out during the workshop.

- Graphic design
The exam will consist in the evaluation of the results achieved in the project activities, with a collective exposition of the works realized in the form of an exhibition (conceived and set up through the co-design formula, together with the teaching body) in the spaces of Palazzo Tassoni Estense. Finally, the final evaluation will also take into account the results achieved in the intermediate exercises carried out.

The final grade of the two teaching modules of the Concept Design laboratory (Product Design and Graphic Design) will be generated, in particular, by the outcome of the final exam, partially interpolated with the results of the intermediate exercises (single and group) and with an active presence at classroom meetings.

To pass the exam it is necessary to acquire a minimum score of 18 out of 30 out of 30.
If the total score is less than 18, it will be necessary to repeat the final exam.

Reference texts

Basic text of the Partition A
Sacchetti, Valerio, Il design in tasca. Editrice Compositori, Bologna, 2010, pp.183.
Reference texts
Edwards, Betty, Disegnare con la parte destra del cervello. Longanesi & c. Milano, 1986.
Norman, A. Donald, La caffettiera del masochista. Giunti, Firenze, 2002.
Bassi Alberto, Design. Progettare gli oggetti quotidiani, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2013, pp. 128.
Mirti Stefano, Il mondo nuovo. Guida tascabile, Milano, Postmedia books, 2013, pp. 112.
Munari Bruno, Da cosa nasce cosa. Appunti per una metodologia progettuale (23a edizione), Bari, Editori Laterza, 2010, pp. 385.
Potter Norman, Che cos’è un designer, Torino, Codice, 2011, pp. 194.

Ulteriori testi di approfondimento:
Maeda John, Le leggi della semplicità, Milano, Bruno Mondadori, 2006, pp. 147.
Verganti Roberto, Overcrowded: Designing Meaningful Products in a World Awash With Ideas, Cambridge (USA), MIT Press, 2017, pp. 264.
Weinschenk Susan M., 100 cose che ogni designer deve conoscere sulle persone, Padova, Pearson, pp. 242.

Contenuti web e riviste di settore
Mirti Stefano, Design 101 lessons (;;;;;;
Massimo Vignelli, Vignelli Canon (

Graphic Design
Ellen Lupton, Caratteri, testo, gabbia, Zanichelli, Bologna, 2010, p. 192.
Giovanni Anceschi, Cristina Chiappini, “Hard, soft e smart: gli stili registici dell’identity design”, pp. 108-111, in Progetto Grafico, n. 9, 2006.
Ulrike Felsing, Dynamic identities in Cultural and Public Contexts, Baden, Lars Muller Publisher, 2010, pp. 254.
Ellen Lupton, Jennifer Cole Phillips, Graphic Design Thinking: Beyond Brainstorming, Princeton Architectural Press, 2011, pp. 184.

Additional in-depth titles or lecture notes will be provided during the lessons.