My final major project

Hello all. I am a product design student at Birmingham City University. I am entering my final year of the course. It’s been going well so far. I learned a hell of a lot since being at uni. I never understood what people meant by ‘living within design’ until I found myself surrounded by it. The course has completely changed my level of thinking. I want to challenge this notion in my final major project. At the moment I am aiming to design a reading chair. Design is changing and so every designer has to change with it. I want to express this in my final major project. The chair itself will be exhibited but I want it to be as indiscreet as possible. I want the user to not think about what they are doing when they are going to sit in the chair. I don’t want them to think “I am going to sit in this chair, I wonder how comfy it is”. Basically I want to design something which reflects; or more importantly allows the user to reflect upon where design is going. The global recession is going to change everything. Oh, it will also be sustainable. I have also been thinking of writing a book which the user can read when they are in the chair which explains the thought behind the design. But that could be slightly insane of me. The chair may also be in a series of which will include a side table and a foot rest (as you can probably tell I haven’t finalised the brief yet).


Any recommendations would be AMAZING.


Philip Appleton

A lot of disconnected thoughts there, not sure if I really understand what you are planning on doing…

anyhow, regardless, the first question I would ask is “what is the problem?” another way to think of it would be to ask “why should this product exist?”

Any good design (aside from something purely aesthetic or conceptual) should have an answer to these questions. Otherwise you are not really creating a design solution, but just making another chair.

The problem could be anything from “chairs take up too much space when you are not sitting in them, how can this be avoided?”, to “X type of people have Y issue that isn’t solved by current chairs - how can a new design address this?”, etc.


Thanks for your reply.

I do know exactly what I have planned for my FMP (I wrote the post when I was really tired - I can see now how it doesn’t seem very punctual). I was hoping to open a conversation about where design is heading to. To me design seems to be at a flux at the moment. Is there really still a need in society for conceptual design? Is there still a need for design/art? Though there have been some truly inspirational conceptual designs in recent years, will there be in the future? Is the design world waking up from a hangover or is it an alcoholic? Or is conceptual design the creative soul of the design world. Where would we be without it? I recently read an interview of Jasper Morrison. In it he commented that “9 times out of 10 you’re better off to buy an ordinary corkscrew than a designer corkscrew because ordinary corkscrews know what they are doing”. I get his point but I am not sure whether the ordinary corkscrew would know what it was doing if it wasn’t for the designer corkscrew? Where does the ego begin and where does it end?

How should a student interpret where the design world is going? Many political systems are changing; not drastically, but they are changing. Transparency. Should the creative industries be truly transparent or is part of a products appeal its rise to popularity seemingly out of nowhere.

Many students graduate, do well at university, get a job and fail because they get carried away with their ego. They enter a design studio and are asked to make coffee but go about re-arranging the furniture. Would an employer be impressed with a graduate who has no high expectations and no higher ground. Obviously a lot of these questions are rhetorical, but I am hoping to open a convo here on how a student should present their ideas. Students are always being told how to do this, how to do that but never how to do it on their own accord.