Undergraduate Degree




DR2007 Surface Design

[Studio Contact Hours: 39 hours; Pre-requisites: NIL; Academic Unit: 3.0]




Academic Unit


3 AU

Course Description


Learning Objective

To introduce to the students through practice-based learning the many ways that a surface may be decorated, treated and constructed. To introduce to students the aesthetic and practical function of a surface.


The surface design of an object is an integral part of the object itself. It can be decorated in such a way that key aspects of the object’s function are encoded or it may serve only to present an engaging aesthetic. It may be a thing that has been applied onto the surface or it may be integral to the material and the object itself. Surface Design is a studio course. Students will learn how to apply designs onto a wide range of surfaces and materials using a range of techniques. Students will be introduced to surface design through projects involving the researching of visual sources, idea development through drawing and colour sketches and final output.

Course Outline




• Intro to course

2 - 6

• Surface design principles

• Applications of surface designs

- Project: ongoing projects and assignments

• Intro to the cultural and historical context of surface design

- Pattern as status signifier 

- Pattern and gender

- Pattern through different cultures

- Surfaces and the history of technology 

• Surface design:

- Surfaces as veneer (printed, painted etc)

- Surface as material (glass, ceramic, stone etc)

- Textiles

- Hybrids (laminates, new media etc) 

• Surface and code

- Colour/pattern/motif etc as signifier

• Surface and function

- Issues such as: grip, reveal, maintenance etc 

• Visits to manufactures


• Mid Sem review of assignments

8 - 12

• Project: intro to final project

• Materials technology 

• Products

• Surfaces, ergonomics and function

• Incorporation of designs onto/into various surfaces/materials using technologies such as:

- Printing (Screen, Digital, Transfer, etc)

- Material manipulations

- Composites 

• Colour and Finishing 

• Design development

- Successful Case Studies


• Final review of assignments

Learning Outcome

The students will be able to recognise the importance of surface as a aspect of the design that serves the needs of the product and its user. The students will know pattern as a thing that is subject to formal and aesthetic consideration.

Student Assessment

  1. Final Assessment: 40%

  2. Continuous Assessment: 60% (of which at least 15% is participation)

Continuous assessment components may include:

  • Studio-based exercises and projects

  • Individual, group and team-based assignments


  1. Bigbros Workshop, Stuffz: Design on Material, Ginko Press

  2. Barbara Glasner, Patterns 2 : Design, Art and Architecture, Birkhäuser Architecture

  3. Jennifer Hudson, 1000 New Designs and Where to Find Them: a 21st-century Sourcebook, Laurence King

  4. Lou Andrea Savoir, Pattern Design: Applications & Variations, Rockport Publishers

  5. Dawn Teo, Devils in the detail: a Style Guide to Patterns and Applications, Page One Publishing

  6. Annette Tietenberg, Patterns in Design, Art and Architecture, Birkhäuser Basel