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Academic year
Didactic period
Secondo Semestre

Training objectives

The "Product Design 1 A Laboratory" is a design course in which knowledges and methods for the finalization of a product project are provided. The "Product Design" module has the task of providing tools and design skills based on the study of the needs and characteristics of men, through a human centered methodology. The "Ergonomics" module aims to introduce structured methodologies for the definition of the project objectives, based on an understanding of the capabilities and limitations of the physical, cognitive and perceptive functions of the human, according to a People Centered Design Research approach. The module "Elements of architectural and urban composition" aims to provide tools to analyze, understand and configure spatial, functional and perceptive relations in the relationship between man, objects and environments on an architectural and urban scale, controlling the product design both on the material, proxemic and fruitional level. The course aims to provide skills, methods and tools for the development of innovative design projects based on the needs of people and to introduce the project on an architectural and urban scale. The main acquired knowledges will be:

Understanding of:
¿ Potential impact of an industrial product for society and the environment;
¿ Productive, technological-constructive, functional, formal and use implications
¿ Relationships that a product establishes with industry and the market.
¿ Ergonomics and proxemics of spaces;

Knowledge of:
¿ Methods and techniques for defining the objectives of a design project and for the finalization of a conceptual project into a definitive project, and understanding of its implications in the production process and product quality.
¿ Principles of physical and cognitive ergonomics applied to design, and understanding of the relationship between morphology and dimensions of a product and its usability.
¿ People Centered Design approach and main research techniques with people in field.
¿ Methods of analysis, understanding and interpretation of the needs, abilities, limits and expectations of the man about the product;
¿ Usability assessment methods through low fidelity and / or experience prototyping.
¿ Methods of study of compositional and distributive characters

The main skills (ie the ability to apply the acquired knowledge) will be:
¿ Analyze the usage context and the types of users of a specific product, analyze needs and requirements and define a coherent project brief.
¿ Develop different Concept Designs that interpret functional, production and market requirements and user needs through various possible configurations, selecting and modifying them in an iterative manner based on the feedback received.
¿ Analyze the operational and functional mode of a product, identifying its ergonomic needs for a specific user and defining its design, verifying its usability through prototypes.
¿ Evaluate and choose construction materials and technologies in coherence with the performance, expressive, economic and environmental sustainability objectives of the project.
¿ Translate a conceptual project into a product project that takes into account the implications of the system and responds to the needs and requirements defined by a project brief.
¿ Make design choices compatible with the material culture of the reference design context;
¿ Develop a correct multi-disciplinary project methodology, with particular attention to the team-working.


Having taken the exam of:
Laboratorio del Disegno
Laboratorio di Concept Design

Course programme

The integrated course aims to a multidisciplinary design methodology, based on the study of the human needs, for the development of design solutions able to integrate:
Contextual analysis, even at an architectural and urban scale
Ergonomic analysis, both functional and perceptual and cognitive
Analysis and verification of the usability of products and devices
Analysis of physical, aesthetic and functional characteristics of materials and construction techniques
The course aims to create a critical awareness among students on the use of materials in the contemporary design of product and interior design and in the furnishing of urban spaces, through:
The identification and critical interpretation of the contemporary codes and languages ¿¿with which the material is presented in the architecture, design and interior furnishings of today,
The knowledge of the physical and merchandise categories of the materials, their correspondence to the aims and purposes for which the design products are intended,
The formal and functional potential inherent in new design and production techniques.
The course includes 132 hours of teaching, intended for lectures, a multidisciplinary workshop and exercises. The multidisciplinary workshop will be addressed to the study of elements and systems for the functional and aesthetic configuration of spaces and environments, on a building or city scale. Students will be asked to interpret the potential of different materials for the design and production of products of different complexity, characterized by solutions, processes, models and treatments that meet the framework of needs defined by user analysis. The course is divided into 3 modules:
"Design di prodotto" (84 hours)
There are 40 hours of lectures, 20 hours of exercise on the topics of the lessons and 24 hours in the workshop multi-disciplinary common laboratory. Topics:
Human centered design
From concept design to product design
The concept of users
The concept of quality
Inclusive design - Design for all
From the needs to the project brief
The definition of design solutions based on needs
Defining design solutions based on materials and technologies
The design of urban furniture products

"Ergonomia" (24 hours)
There are 16 hours of lectures and classroom exercises, and 8 hours within the Laboratory's multi-disciplinary workshop. The theoretical lessons will be accompanied by practical exercises in which the students will work in groups both on physical products / environments and digital products / services. Topics:
Physical ergonomics: anthropometry
The concept of percentile
Cognitive ergonomics
The concept of affordance on physical and digital interfaces
Beyond usability: the user experience
The definition of the ergonomic requirements applied to the project
Beyond expressed needs: latent needs and design opportunities through People Centered Design research
"Elementi di composizione architettonica e urbana" (24 hours)
There are 12 hours of lectures, and 12 hours in the laboratory's multi-disciplinary workshop. Topics:
Ability to recognize the link between architectural types and social / economic models
Understanding of urban contexts as a historical and complex phenomenon
Knowledge of contemporary issues related to urban growth areas
Knowledge of the contemporary problems of regeneration in consolidated contexts

Didactic methods

The didactics of the laboratory are planned and coordinated by the teacher of the characterizing discipline in collaboration with the teachers of each module, so as to ensure a fruitful interaction between the disciplines and avoid overlaps on the topics developed and educational overloads.
The teaching method includes the use of theoretical lessons for each of the modules, accompanied by exercises and seminars on the topics covered with revisions held continuously by the teacher, aiming to introduce the students to the themes and methods of Human Centered Design.
It also provides a project workshop common to the three modules, aimed at developing of innovative solutions on a specific theme within an assigned space through a teamwork. The theme can be identified in collaboration with an external partner, such as companies or organizations and has the characteristic of being a realistic case study.
Methods and teaching tools for the acquisition of knowledge are:
Lectures on theory and methodology of design;
analysis and critics of design projects;
design workshops;
exercises in the classroom and in the models laboratory ;
visits to exhibitions, museums and production sites;
seminars and conferences;
bibliographic studies.

Learning assessment procedures

Methods and tools for checking the results are:
punctual checks during the activities
verification of the continuity of presence and commitment of the students;
evaluation of the project documentation prepared by the students according to pre-established criteria.
Ex-temp tests and classroom exercises have the dual purpose of providing an opportunity to experiment with the contents of the lectures and to verify the level of learning.
The objective of the exam consists in verifying the achievement of the previously indicated training objectives.
The exam will consist of an interview on the topics of the lessons and on the material produced in the ex tempore tests and in the common design laboratory. Every student will prepare a book that illustrates and documents the work done and some panels in 70x100 cm. format, illustrating the design workshop, on the following topics:
Analysis of the theme, user and context
Typological analysis
Concept development
Product design development of one of the concepts
Executive project with indications of materials and finishes
Rendering, settings and functional schemes

Reference texts

Vijay Kumar - 101 Design Methods: A Structured Approach for Driving Innovation in Your Organization , John Wiley & Sons, 2012
Mincolelli G., Customer-user centered design, Maggioli Editore, 2008…..
Mezzi P., Pelizzaro P. (2016), La città resiliente, Altraeconomia, Milano
Donald Norman, La caffettiera del masochista, Giunti, Firenze, 2015
Donald Norman, Living with Complexity, MIT Press (2010)
Francesco di Nocera, Ergonomia Cognitiva, Carocci (2011)
Henry Dreyfuss, Designing for people, Allworth press (2003)
Henry Dreyfuss, The Measure of Man and Woman: Human Factors in Design, Wiley (2002)
Ellen Lupton, Beautiful users: designing for people, Princeton Architectural Press (2014)
Panero e Zelnik, Spazi a misura d’uomo, Be-ma editrice (1989)
Ideo, Human Centered Design Toolkit, online

Jason Cohn ,¿ Bill Jersey , Eames: architetti, pittori, designer