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Furniture - FdA

Why study this course?

Furniture has long been designed and made at The Cass, launching many internationally renowned practitioners. The Furniture foundation degree explores the methods of designing and crafting furniture using traditional methods as well as investigating how cutting edge digital technologies can be used as a tool to support the practice. The course aims to equip you with the skills to compete in today’s world. This course is part a suite of the University's London-based furniture courses. We also offer a Furniture and Product Design BA, which FdA students can progress directly into the third year of after successfully completing their course. In the most recent (2014-15) Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey, 100% of graduates from this course were in work or further study within six months.


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If you want a satisfying and stimulating career as a furniture designer or maker, this is the course for you. Our experience in the sector and our industry contacts are a result of 150 years of teaching high quality furniture courses and preparing graduates for employment.

There's a strong emphasis on traditional and contemporary making skills across a range of techniques and materials, supported by drawing, technology, ethics and design learning. The teaching team includes international furniture and product designers, professional cabinet makers, CAD/CAM specialists, materials scientists, and upholstery and textiles experts.

During the course, you'll have the opportunity to develop your knowledge and understanding whilst working on real-world creative briefs set by professional design bodies and there will be considerable emphasis on the professional presentation of project ideas. Recent live projects have included work with Heal'sS .C.P, Emir and Hitch Mylius.

A range of year-long thematic studio options are available for Year 2 students. Studios contain design and realisation modules, and are an opportunity for you to work with staff and explore new ideas and stretch your imagination with experiment and discovery at the heart.

This course is bustling with creativity and energy with state-of-the-art digital and professionally equipped traditional workshops in which you can develop your practice. Life-long learning and professional development are encouraged with opportunities to join professional and trade associations. You'll be considered for recognised industry prizes and awards each year with opportunities to enter designated professional competitions.

We have long established professional connections to trade bodies such as the Worshipful Companies of Furniture Makers and Upholders with their vast network of  furniture industry connections, as well as Cassworks' Digital Manufacturing Centre.

The Cass offers the only hands-on higher education courses in furniture in Greater London and our location means we have future clients, employers and commissioning agencies on your doorstep.

Assessment

You'll be assessed via project work, essays, individual and group design practice, and a major final project and dissertation.

In addition to the University's standard entry requirements, you should have:

  • for entry in the 2017-18 academic year: a minimum grade C in three A levels or minimum grades BC in art and design, art history or design and technology subjects (or a minimum of 96 UCAS points from an equivalent Level 3 qualification, eg BTEC National, OCR Diploma or Advanced Diploma)
  • English Language GCSE at grade C (grade 4 from 2017) or above (or equivalent)

We encourage applications from international/EU students with equivalent qualifications.

We also accept mature students with diverse backgrounds and experiences. We're proud that many of our students are career changers, finding their calling later in life. Formal qualifications are not always necessary as life and work experience can also be considered. In such cases, we ask for a CV and supporting letter. Commitment and enthusiasm are key factors when considering applications.

Suitable applicants living in the UK will be invited to a portfolio interview. Applicants living outside the UK will be required to submit a portfolio of work via email.

Portfolio advice

Your portfolio should be well edited but have enough work to show the range of your interests and talents. We're interested in seeing how you develop a project from beginning to end, not only finished work.

Furniture makers work in both 2D and 3D, so bring examples of both. If you can't bring some of your work to portfolio interview, please bring photographs.

For makers, we always want to see traditional drawing whether observational, life or concept generating, so even if you have good CAD skills already, do include this.

Finally, be ready to talk about your work and how you see your future as a furniture designer or maker.

All applicants must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. Applicants who require a Tier 4 student visa may need to provide a Secure English Language Test (SELT) such as Academic IELTS. For more information about English qualifications please see our English language requirements.

The modules listed below are for the academic year 2016/17 and represent the course modules at this time. Modules and module details (including, but not limited to, location and time) are subject to change over time.

Year 1 modules include:

  • This module currently runs:
    • all year (September start) - Monday afternoon
    • all year (September start) - Thursday morning
    • all year (September start) - Thursday afternoon
    • all year (September start) - Monday morning

    Successful 3D design outcomes are reliant on sound 3D design principles. These design principles inform and create opportunities for you to apply your creativity to the conception, development and eventual realisation of effective 3D design solutions.

    Three-dimensional design is intent on bringing about change, impacting on human experience. This module will introduce you to a range of contemporary and traditional discipline-related design approaches and processes, some of which will be tested in design exercises and some of which may be realised in studios and projects carried across other modules. You will be introduced to systems and methods of analysing 3D artefacts and material culture. Processes experienced will involve research, documentation and analysis, as well as play, accident and chance.

    Design concepts will be tested through the application of workshop and studio methods. Materials, processes and technologies will be discipline-specific, developing creative outcomes relevant to the possibilities and constraints of the context, the needs of the client and users, and industry conventions.

    You will be encouraged to develop a critically informed and personal approach to the process of design. Studios and projects will encourage you to understand your practice in the context of a rapidly changing contemporary culture with ever-developing needs and problems. Engaging with materials, media and, processes, you can become an agent of change through design practice.

    Read full details.
  • This module currently runs:
    • all year (September start) - Thursday afternoon
    • all year (September start) - Monday afternoon
    • all year (September start) - Thursday morning
    • all year (September start) - Monday morning

    This module introduces and develops a range of knowledge, skills and approaches in the research, sketching and communication of information and ideas for 3D disciplines and artefacts in visual form.

    The ability to draw and communicate visually for research, as well as design development, is critical to the success of a designer in any 3D discipline. This module intends to make development of subject specialist skills in these fields a central component of the courses that it serves.

    You will take part in a range of studios, workshops and lectures that introduce a wide range of traditional and contemporary drawing, visual research and communication media, methods and practices to help you explore, record, select from, analyse and interpret your environment and the world of images, spaces and artefacts for a range of purposes.

    Through the regular practice of a wide range of drawing methods, whether for the recording and communication of information, the generation of concepts and design or the expression of ideas, you will develop confidence and a key resource to support your practice.

    Discipline specific projects will explore the recording and expression of line, colour, form, structure, light, space and perspective, texture, detail and context appropriate to the requirements of your field in a range of media and formats.

    Read full details.
  • This module currently runs:
    • all year (September start) - Tuesday morning

    The module offers a sequence of three intensive programmes or ‘mini-blocks’, tailored to the interests of specific groups of students. The module engages the student in thinking about their subject area, how it is defined and practiced, the richness of its resources, and how it opens up questions of context. In particular the module investigates how context might be framed, for example culturally, historically, economically, socially, theoretically or through practice. Students are encouraged to see connections and reflect on what they see in ways that build skills of communication and help articulate ideas. The module also helps the student, through learning how to identify, access and use knowledge profitably, to become knowledgeable about their subject area, its extent, its language and conventions, its history and practice.

    The three mini-blocks have equally weighted single assessments . The assessments include a range of different modes of written assignments, for example, Patchwork, Case Study, or Essay.

    Read full details.
  • This module currently runs:
    • all year (September start) - Monday afternoon
    • all year (September start) - Thursday morning
    • all year (September start) - Thursday afternoon
    • all year (September start) - Monday morning

    Good design and high-quality artefacts are informed by knowledge of the potential and limitations of relevant technologies and techniques, materials and process. The focus of this module is on the development of understanding and abilities in a range of key practical skills and an understanding of material and process through experience, experimentation and direct observation.

    The module will introduce to you some of the key methods and principles of achieving high-quality outcomes, whether crafted, manufactured or constructed. It will develop your capacity for informed decision-making about material experimentation and process investigation through the exploration of why particular choices of material, technique, process and technology are made in relation to factors such as aesthetics, purpose, function, scale, economy, and ethical considerations.

    The module is taught within disciplinary specific studios, includes a range of relevant exercises and will aid realisation of designs and projects originated in other modules.

    Read full details.

Year 2 modules include:

  • This module currently runs:
    • all year (September start) - Friday morning
    • all year (September start) - Tuesday afternoon
    • all year (September start) - Tuesday morning

    As humans, we live in a continuous and ongoing relationship with the made world, where the former and the latter each inform the other. This module aims to investigate through design and physical realiation, how an understanding of human needs and desires, physical, psychological, sociological and economic, and of people as individuals and in society, can aid successful design.

    Informed selection and application of material processes are an intrinsic part of the design and production of both objects and the made environment and will be central to this module. However, understanding of material and process is not sufficient to ensure good design. Close observation and analysis of the interaction between people and their natural and designed environments will also be at the core of this area of study. You will discover and show how clear and detailed understanding of these relationships is vital to relevant, safe and ethical, innovative and viable design that responds to real needs. Your response might be in the field of critical or narrative design that fosters debate and emotional reward, or it might be focused on user-centred design, environmentally secure manufacturing, or system/ service design. In any of these cases you will be expected to understand and show how your design work and its outcomes are the result of credible research, and how it relates to users, (both principal and incidental), in practice.

    Workshop activities will explore and test ideas, resolving design issues and proposing solutions through modelling in traditional and digital materials and technologies. Material experimentation and knowledge will enhance both the concept and its communication.

    You will normally select from a range of studio projects, working with contemporary ideas and practising designers, mentored by professional practices as appropriate to the project.

    Read full details.
  • This module currently runs:
    • all year (September start) - Thursday morning

    The module offers a sequence of three intensive programmes or ‘mini-blocks’ tailored to the interests of specific groups of students. It provides a range of studies that address the character and conditions of cultural production including how they operate in practice. The module helps to prepare the student for their final-year dissertation and their future role as professionals and practitioners. The student encounters different perspectives on their subject area and undertakes different forms of coursework aimed at helping inform their choice of dissertation topic and approach.

    The module begins to situate the student within the process of constructing knowledge. This process may be approached from the point of view of the producer or consumer, the critic or the professional, the academic or the practitioner, in that there are a number of players involved. The module recognises that the student is also an active player in the process: what they bring to the construction of knowledge counts; and how effectively they construct it depends on how well they understand and interact with the field. To this end the module encourages the skills of reading and literacy as required – historical, analytical, textual, visual or technical – to help support rigorous and enterprising thought.

    The three blocks have equally weighted single assessments.

    Read full details.
  • This module currently runs:
    • all year (September start) - Thursday afternoon

    Consumers today, demand products with superior ethical and environmental values and will do so increasingly in the future, as our shared environment becomes more stressed. Corporate ethical and environmental requirements mirror this, often in response to governmental legislation. There is a need for intelligent and sustainable exploitation of finite materials and processes. Professional ethics, social enterprise and entrepreneurial strategies produce creative solutions.

    This module enables you to bring together your knowledge and experience of material and making to achieve investigation, invention and discovery. Taking material and the processes, techniques, and tools or equipment through which it is manipulated as your starting point, you study how craft, design, science, technology, manufacturing and engineering debate the benefits of traditional, rediscovered, new and emerging material and process technologies in relation to real-world needs. You will research ‘in action’, seeking solutions to the unexpected possibilities and meanings revealed by experimentation.

    The module introduces specialist methods, terms and techniques that are used to commission, specify and evaluate making. It examines how and why regulatory, professional and ethical standards are developed as well as the remit for research and experimentation. The module further expands the knowledge of materials, production, consumer standards and professional requirements, with particular attention given to longevity and sustainability underpinning ethical values and responsibilities relevant to the design of fashion, textiles, jewellery, furniture and/or product.

    During the module, you will practice and develop your understanding of professional dissemination. The moment of submission also provides critical debate and reception, commercial response, and career development. Very often, a designer will have to convince potential clients of the merits of their proposal without the benefit of a market-ready model, making convincing presentation a vital tool to securing the next stage. You will research and develop your discipline’s professional requirements for public/ commercial reception.

    Developing skills in the use of image, text, word & object to communicate complex and conceptual/ critical thinking, you will practice codes and conventions of presentation, publication and exhibition relevant to your field. You will be expected to investigate and develop critical and aesthetic working relationships between and across your modules, fuelling your enthusiasm and individual approach to your study.

    Read full details.
  • This module currently runs:
    • all year (September start) - Friday morning
    • all year (September start) - Tuesday afternoon
    • all year (September start) - Tuesday morning

    In this Project Realisation module you will resolve your project to furniture industry standards, whether design and manufacture, or restoration and conservation, and present this practice ready for professional launch. DN5F07 requires your attention to the full realisation and detailing of the project proposed. Building upon that developed in ‘Client-Project Development’, projects will be developed through material and/or constructional investigation, experimentation and manipulation including as appropriate, full scale artefacts and/ or working prototypes that will help you to realise relevant and successful solutions for your agreed project briefs and for specific clients, users or sites.

    Materiality (choice and use of form, colour, surface and texture) affects meaning and value in all design. You will consider how your analysis, understanding and experimentation with material selection and manipulation affect the function, perceived quality and significance of the object. This module will ask you to consider also the social and environmental impacts of material choices on designed objects, through in-depth research.

    You will learn to manage your own practice, working to deadlines and within the constraints of the project. You will work to a high level of presentation and to develop a logical and creative approach to identification and solving of realisation issues appropriate to the needs of users and clients in the context of the professional practice of your field.

    Read full details.

Concentrating on learning through making and doing, this foundation degree course combines working with both your mind and your hands. In responding to set and individually directed briefs, materials and time constraints, you'll be working in a way that reflects the successful contemporary workplace.

Year 1 (Level 4) topics include:

  • Industry drawing practice
  • Handcraft and machining skills in wood and metal
  • Material technology
  • Software
  • Cultural and historical studies

Year 2 (Level 5) topics include:

  • Individually designed furniture projects
  • Specialist skills
  • Business studies

"I decided to return to higher education after running my decorating business for six years. I was looking to further develop my carpentry and design skills… there is a real emphasis on training in the workshops with both machines and hand tools. I believe a sound knowledge and understanding of how things can be manufactured is essential to good design.

"The workshops at London Met are amazing and it’s great to have access to the facilities and expertise in other subject areas. The work I produced on the course attracted a lot of attention from manufacturers and the press. Furthermore, the close proximity of Metropolitan Works and the opportunities it offers, including contact with practising designers and manufacturers, is an invaluable asset."
Tom Price

This Furniture FdA prepares you to enter the furniture profession in a wide range of occupations within manufacture and design. Graduates successfully progress to careers designing or making furniture; working freelance, in small and medium size companies, in museums or in the modern industrial environment. Roles can be as diverse as buyers and technology and design journalists. 

You can also progress to Year 3 of the Furniture and Product Design BA (Hons) course.

If you have any academic questions, please contact Cathy Stack at c.stack@londonmet.ac.uk

Between 2016 and 2020 we're investing £125 million in the London Metropolitan University campus, moving all of our activity to our current Holloway campus in Islington, north London. This will mean the teaching location of some courses will change over time.

Whether you will be affected will depend on the duration of your course, when you start and your mode of study. The earliest moves affecting new students will be in September 2017. This may mean you begin your course at one location, but over the duration of the course you are relocated to one of our other campuses. Our intention is that no full-time student will change campus more than once during a course of typical duration.

All students will benefit from our move to one campus, which will allow us to develop state-of-the-art facilities, flexible teaching areas and stunning social spaces.

Please note, in addition to the tuition fee there may be additional costs for things like equipment, materials, printing, textbooks, trips or professional body fees.

Additionally, there may be other activities that are not formally part of your course and not required to complete your course, but which you may find helpful (for example, optional field trips). The costs of these are additional to your tuition fee and the fees set out above and will be notified when the activity is being arranged.

Unistats is the official site that allows you to search for and compare data and information on university and college courses from across the UK. The widget(s) below draw data from the corresponding course on the Unistats website. If a course is taught both full-time and part-time, one widget for each mode of study will be displayed here.

How to apply

If you're a UK/EU applicant applying for full-time study you must apply via UCAS unless otherwise specified.

UK/EU applicants for part-time study should apply direct to the University.

Non-EU applicants for full-time study may choose to apply via UCAS or apply direct to the University. Non-EU applicants for part-time study should apply direct to the University, but please note that if you require a Tier 4 visa you are not able to study on a part-time basis.

All applicants applying to begin a course starting in January must apply direct to the University.

When to apply

The University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) accepts applications for full-time courses starting in September from one year before the start of the course. Our UCAS institution code is L68.

If you will be applying direct to the University you are advised to apply as early as possible as we will only be able to consider your application if there are places available on the course.

Fees and key information

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