Get up and Go!

Cass students get a taste of furniture design as a method of problem solving.

Date: 30 March 2015

Get up and Go, a new initiative set up by William Warren, a Senior Lecturer at the Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design, teaches first year students the importance of problem solving in furniture design.

Over the last four weeks, first year and foundation students at The Cass have been able to benefit from the experience of Alex Hellum, a renowned product and furniture designer.

“Design should, in my opinion, be approached from a problem solving perspective,” said Alex.

A problem solving approach to design

“Most students are educated as product designers. A large part of that is styling. Take a mobile phone for example. The technology is invisible, so problem solving there is very different.

“Furniture, on the other hand, is something we make by hand, from scratch. This is a very different process.”

Get up and Go is based on this approach to design. Students were encouraged to think about their own morning routines and write down all the activities from the moment of getting out of bed to leaving the house. They were asked to identify a common problem for which they can design a product to solve.

Alex said: “There is a line of thought where everyday objects and furniture can be recognised as tools and implements for making life easier. Most of us are usually not even conscious of these things. We break the rules every day.

“For instance, when we tie our shoes in the morning, we might put our feet up on a chair or a table to make it easier. We hang our clothes on the backs of chairs and sofas. This is not what these pieces of furniture were designed to do.”  

Clothes racks and post boxes

Victor Mandi, a BA Furniture student, has designed a clothes rack for the bathroom.

“I got the inspiration for it because I always throw my clothes on the floor when I go to take a shower,” he said. “Apparently, a lot of people have this problem.”

Victor plan to make the rack from lightweight material so it is easy to carry from room to room.

Another foundation year student, Stephen McCombe, created a small piece of furniture resembling a post-box, with the intention of mounting it on the wall, creating a space to put keys, lose change, and other objects that usually get thrown onto any available surface after a long day at work and making them difficult to locate the next morning.

“I wanted it to be simple,” Stephen said. “This way everything we need will be in one place, and easily accessible.”

Both students praised the project and want to continue working on their ideas.

 “I think it is amazing that first year students got the opportunity to have a well-established external designer come in and challenge us to create something,” Stephen said.

“Usually we work with designing furniture. This time we approached it from a different, non-aesthetic perspective.

“Even though we have a lot of other things going on, I think this was definitely worth the time. It was good seeing my fellow students in a new environment, and I learned a lot from Alex.”


Learn more about studying Furniture at The Cass.

Cass students designing furniture