Three Dimensional (3D) Design: Idea Material Object

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Ideas and materials meet to create objects.

The works made during this Three Dimensional Design course are executed through a range of materials, processes and scales - from objects to spaces to experiences.

The course will help you to develop your personal viewpoint in design and your own individual area of practice.

Why study Three Dimensional (3D) Design: Idea Material Object?

If you have a passion for making and an ambition to delight, amuse or intrigue, our interdisciplinary course will give you an opportunity to explore your ideas through craft practice with a focus on the process of design thinking. You will create original objects using a range of techniques in the workshops and through digital outputs.

The School’s facilities are modern and well equipped, and students of this course have access to specialist workshops (including ceramics, textiles, wood, plastic and metal) alongside digital capabilities including CNC routing, laser cutting, 3D printing and much more. Using a range of media you will be encouraged bring your ideas to fruition, and to develop an individual career path as designer-maker, artist, in-house designer, gallery owner, curator, or entrepreneur.

Our students work in a dedicated studio space where the atmosphere is dynamic and open-minded and a culture of sharing information and perspectives is encouraged. The aim is to assist you in finding and enjoying an area of practice that you wish to continue long after term-time is at an end.

Course structure

The course will take you on a journey where the goal is to develop your own individual area of practice – you may ultimately choose to focus on a specific material, explore processes or you may continue with a variety of approaches combining multiple materials and techniques. The focus throughout your journey will be to evolve existing processes and develop an original and personal approach that will cement your direction as an independent thinker in design.

Although it is not necessary to know precisely what you’d like to do when you leave, a passion to find out is vital.

Outcomes will encompass one-off craft artefacts and bespoke solutions through to batch produced objects, across areas such as lighting, tableware, furniture and product; domestic and commercial, interior and exterior. The approach of the course is broad and takes into account the innumerable professional outputs where creative thinking will give you a competitive edge in today’s market.

Expanding digital cultures and new types of craft production/consumption require a new type of thinking about the role of designer and maker. You will learn to make use of web enabled collaboration, manufacture, and distribution, to balance the needs of the consumer with the wider issues of ecology and sustainability, poetry and politics. Studio based modules are supported with studies on critical and historical contexts for craft and design, whilst visiting lecturers provide valuable industry perspectives and an insight into contemporary practice.

Year 1 will develop your creative instincts through exploration of the qualities of different materials and making processes, including methods of digital manufacture. Through drawing, photography, experimentation with materials and exploration of computer based processes you will begin to identify your own individual area of practice – creating new ideas and concepts both drawn and made. The first year provides you with a foundation of skills not only in making but also in thinking, brief writing and laying the foundation for asking questions that you answer with the objects you create.

Year 2 will expand your personal making practice and introduce collaborative and live projects with external partners or design businesses and students are supported to undertake work experience and placements. You will also be introduced to marketing and promotional skills, including building narratives in your work and exploring outcomes through photography, publishing, exhibiting and web presence.

Year 3 will further define your own area of practice, audience and market, perhaps as a specialist maker, or utilising outsourced production and assembly techniques to develop your work. You will be producing a body of physical artefacts alongside a combination of visual and written work. We expect your final project work to be at a professional level, and you will be encouraged and supported to display at national and international design show venues.

Throughout the course you will explore the subject’s contextual framework through Historical and Critical Studies modules and gain industry awareness through Professional Context modules. The programme will engage with creative and industry partners to offer ‘Live’ projects and open up opportunities to experience a professional working atmosphere in a safe environment. Your study will be augmented by trips to cultural establishments both nationally and internationally and exchange schemes are planned with institutes around the world.


Yr1: Sample Modules : ‘Material’ which focuses on a hands-on, intuitive exploration of materials qualities, and, ‘Object’  where existing objects are re-interpreted and rethought.


Yr2: Sample Module : ‘Creating Narrative’ where you will explore your own story as a creative thinker and find ways that the objects you design can carry meaning and intent.
Yr3: Sample Modules : ‘Experiments and Developments’ looks at ways of evolving new species of objects that do not yet exist, and the ‘Professional Context’ module takes you through the practical process of putting on an professional exhibition of your work.

Course assessment

The module assessments demonstrate how well students have performed in tackling the intended learning outcomes, and is measured against grade criteria.

Throughout the module students will receive formative feedback through individual and/or group tutorials, peer seminar sessions and group critiques.  In many cases this feedback is received both verbally and in a written format.

Students are informed about the ways that marks/grades and feedback are provided by the marking tutor(s), and they receive written feedback on learning achievements against the assessment criteria for a module assignment.

The feedback aims to enable students to see how to improve or develop particular aspects of their work, and students receive the summative feedback along with the marks within three weeks of the completed module submission date.

Excellent facilities are available for Idea Material Object students. Each full time student has an individual working studio space and access to a wide range of equipment.  In these spaces students develop designs exploring and experimenting with ideas, theory and inspiration, visual research,  processes, colour, materials, pattern, styling and presentation.

Take a look at this video of Sam to get a feeling for the learning enviroment:

The philosopy of the department is to provide, where possible, the opportunity for students to explore hand techniques, domestic machine processes, industrial machine processes and digital CAD/CAM equipment.  The studios are stocked with a tools cupboard, so that students can continue to explore making processes while in their studios.

Bath School of Art and Design workshops are available to students after Health and Safety introductions and appropriate tuition.  These include:

  • Paint Preparation
  • Metalwork
  • Fine Art Casting
  • Silkscreen
  • Etching & Lithography
  • Woodwork
  • Book & Print (incorporates Bookbinding)
  • Audio Visual Studio (incorporates sound booth)
  • Black & White Photography
  • Photography Lighting Studio
  • ICT: Digital Imaging Suite (Photography)
  • Wide Format Digital Printing (Photography)
  • Ceramics, Plaster Casting, Clay Preparation & Throwing
  • Plastics & 3D Digital
  • Knit & Weave
  • Dye & Textile Screen Print
  • Digital Textile Print & Embroidery
  • Fashion Design Studios (No 4 The Circus)

See the workshops and technical demonstrators in action:

Teaching methods

From a predominately studio based environment you will undertake a range modules with access to a wide range of exciting facilities in the School stretching across disciplines and boundaries. You will be able to explore and develop your skills using hand operated craft equipment and high-spec digital software and machinery.

Throughout all levels you will undertake Contextual Studies to examine the critical and theoretical frameworks that underpin and inform your practice. Studio based modules are supported with studies on critical and historical contexts for craft and design, whilst visiting lecturers provide valuable industry perspectives and an insight into contemporary practice.

As students progress through the courses on a varying modules and onto higher levels, teaching methods will change to deliver the intended learning outcomes, however in general the Idea Material Object teaching involves methods such as:

• Studio engagement

• Technical demonstrations

• Practical workshop introductions

• Taught practical sessions

• Directed or self-directed projects

• Active participation through seminars, group work and directed learning

• Engagement in using both hand and digital processes

• Lecture series

• Individual and group tutorials

• Study trips and gallery visits

• Personal presentation, display and documentation of work

• Self directed research and study activities

Added Value

• Extensive personal support from a friendly and caring staff

• A good practical and theoretical education

• Extensive Art & Design workshop facilities

• Availability of careers advice and support

• Opportunities for field trips and international visits

Application method

All applications are through UCAS.

International students should visit our international pages for more information about our entry requirements, fees and scholarships, and student support.

Course enquiries

For further information please contact Course Leader Shai Akram on

Typical offer range for UK / EU applicants

We recommend that applicants undertake a pre-degree foundation diploma in Art and Design.  However if applying with A-Levels only, a total of 260 points (with a grade B in an Art and Design related subject) is expected, supported by a high quality portfolio.
Applicants applying with a BTEC Extended Diploma are expected to achieve an overall Merit grade (Merit, Merit, Merit).

For all applicants an offer of a place will be made following a successful portfolio review and interview

Career opportunities

We expect our graduates to shape their individual career paths as they enter the ever changing future of interdisciplinary design, with some graduates becoming designer-makers, artists, in-house designers, gallery owners, curators, entrepreneurs, critics and equipped to create new and as yet undefined possibilities. We have strong contacts with both the Crafts Council, Design Council and design professionals working in fields as broad as food design, art direction, product development and small batch production.

As well as continuing to exhibit work throughout their studies, our students have also been very successful at the graduate design show, New Designers.

Staff/students/alumni exhibit at contemporary galleries such as The Aram Gallery for Emerging and Experimental Design, alongside having a presence at the best international design and craft shows including 100% Design, Origin, Tent, Dutch Design Week. 




What students say...

Student Quotes:

“I have really been encouraged to discover my own style and develop my presence in the design world. With its great facilities and tuition this course is perfect for a self motivated creative student who enjoys studio work.”
“I've really enjoyed getting to know new materials and processes, as well as being astonished by the amount of amazing developments going on within industries. The course has really made me feel a part of this exciting, ever changing world of art and design.”
"For me the best thing about the course is its multidisciplinary nature. There are few limits to medium, scale and purpose of your work, which makes it possible to realise really ambitious projects".

Alphabet by Emily Cropton

A personal narrative based on the framework of the alphabet. I was interested in making something that could only be my own; something that is evocative of me. Deciding to feature all the things I wouldn’t want to live without, rather than the things I couldn’t live without, made sense as it would provide me with a alphabet that was the opposite of generic. Through the work it becomes apparent to the viewer that many of the letters have an experiential or sensory quality and sometimes I have had to try to capture moments that cannot be seen.

This work formed part of a group show with Studio IMO in November 2011. For the exhibition I wanted the experience of watching the film to be a very personal one, in a space where there is room for contemplation and speculation.