Principles of Form Design

ED3153Principles of Form Design

Lectures for one hour each.
1- Introduction to Form Finding Methods:
1.1 Form, Function, Style : Re-looking at Form from a designer’s perspetive Case studies over different centuries –
1.2Renaissance Hero: Leonardo Da Vinci
1.3 19th Century Naturalist: Antonio Gaudi
1.4 20th Century Form Finding: Frie Otto
1.5 Contemporary Engineering: Cecil Balmond

2- 21st Century Thinking about Form:

2.1 Form in the age of intelligent machines
2.2 Blurring gaps between engineering, design and philosophy
2.3 Form development methods: Morpho-ecology by Neri Oxman, a Case Study.
2.4 Materiality: The relationship between material and form.

3- Looking to Nature

3.1 Understanding Natural Form
3.2 Adopting Fractals: Study of how fractals are used in man-made forms.
3.3 Biomimicry: Using nature’s solutions in design
3.4 Nature vs Nurture: Role of the environment and the designer

4- Form and Beauty:
4.1 Final lecture re-looking at the themes of the series from the user’s perspective.
Exploring Kansei Engineering Techniques

Lab Project: Looking to Nature for Ideas in Form.

A brief will be detailed for students to solve a design problem using natural forms as inspiration.

Suggested Design Brief:

Conceptualizing and developing a chair for a child using natural forms. For Example: Sand Dune shapes, Tree branches etc.

14 weeks of lab work conducted in a studio format. Students will have to move from individual ideation to group work. They will have to work from concept in drawings to final design in 3D models (in clay, plastic, material available). Concepts will have to demonstrate a level of complexity in form exploration. They will use design methods starting with design conceptualization, exercises in analogous form finding (Chain exercise, soap bubbles etc), developing variations and setting up iterations in forms and finally, refining the final form.
End Result: A panel describing the concept behind the form, 2D and 3D visualization, 3D model in material of personal choice.


Manuel Delanda ,2002, ‘Intensive Science & Virtual Philosophy’.
Janine M. Benyus, 1997, ‘Biomimicry: Innovation inspired by Nature’
Cecil Balmond , 2007, Informal, Prestel

Suggest reading:


Hensel, Michael and Achim Menges (2006). ‘Material and Digital Design Synthesis’, Architectural Design, 76, 2, pp. 88–95
Oxman, N. (2010). Structuring Materiality: Design Fabrication of Heterogeneous Materials. Architectural Design, Special Issue: The New Structuralism: Design, Engineering and Architectural Technologies. Volume 80, Issue 4, pages 78-85, March/April
Simon Schütte, 2005, Engineering Emotional Values in Product Design -Kansei Engineering in Development , Linköping University


Steven Johnson, 2002, Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software
Frei Otto, Bodo Rasch, 1996 Finding Form Towards an Architecture of the Minimal, Axel Menges