Three Dimensional (3D) Design: Idea Material Object

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How to Apply

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BA(hons) Three Dimensional Design: Idea Material Object, is an experimental design programme that seeks to explore ideas through objects, spaces and experiences.

  • Explore a breadth of materials and processes in excellent supportive and well equipped workshops
  • We are recognised as a platform for creativity, and support you in becoming a versatile, empowered designer or maker
  • Develop your design practice through regular professional industry and community projects

IMO Studio 1

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

We are a forward-thinking creative course community who are passionate about designing and making. We explore a breadth of products, materials and scales; from jewellery, lighting and furniture to interactive museum installations and experiences. We encourage you to bring together ideas, materials and processes (both traditional and digital) in new ways, in our extensive range of well-equipped workshops. Frequent ‘live’ industry and community projects mean you develop the professional skills you need through design practice, and graduate with a strong portfolio of experience, industry knowledge and personal vision.

Course structure

2nd Year Live ProjectWe set purposeful and challenging projects that enable you to apply your creativity to different scales, audiences and products and explore how design and making can change how we live. Our experienced staff support you in establishing your personal direction, and you can chose to specialise in one discipline. Our graduates are versatile designers and makers; an important quality in the professional world.

You will develop skills and ideas in supportive well equipped workshops including wood, digital processes (such as CNC routing and 3D printing), metal, plastics, ceramics and casting. We emphasise material experimentation as we believe this is a strong basis for innovation. You develop a personal foundation of manufacture processes, as well as the visualisation skills that enable you to expand and communicate your thinking.

We introduce you to methods of thinking critically about materials and making and encourage you to take inspiration from across art, craft and design, reflecting cutting-edge interdisciplinary design practice. This is supported by tailored study visits (local, national and international) and visiting designers, developing your global industrial awareness.

You’ll gain valuable experience of teamwork, negotiation and leadership and leave with a list of exhibitions, professional skills and personal network that helps secure work in the creative industries.

Conversation Playground


  • Year 1
    The first year starts with a technical foundation including hand and machine processes and digital manufacture, and exploring possible applications. We introduce you to methods of idea generation and expansion, and you learn to translate your abstract thoughts into physical outcomes. We cover drawing techniques and model making, as well as an introduction to digital programmes such as Rhino and Photoshop. You will develop your presentation skills, and learn to research effectively. We debate key issues such as materials resourcing, new technologies and sustainable production, and identify pivotal designers.

  • Year 2
    This year further defines your potential career path through work experience and live industry and community projects, such as an interactive installation at the Holburne Museum, or Fixperts’ international design platform. You’ll learn how to approach companies, collaborate, manage projects and explore marketing and branding, underpinned by skills such as photography and film. You’ll explore applications and scales for your ideas and deepen your theoretical engagement. This helps you to identify personal themes for critical and material investigation. 

  • Year 3
    The third year is focused on your professional future. You will learn to write project briefs that allow you to explore ideas in a way that strengthens your own interests. This helps you establish the direction for your career. With expert support you will develop personal industrial networks and find appropriate opportunities and platforms (physical and digital) for marketing and showcasing your work. With other students you will organise and build an independent exhibition. A written dissertation enables you to deepen your knowledge and critical thinking about the context for your practice.

Bittersweet SoundsJoe Bradford

Course assessment

You’ll normally present your work at the end of a module, in a display, exhibition or visual and verbal presentation, supported by development work. The module assessments demonstrate how well you have performed in tackling the intended learning outcomes. You receive formal feedback on learning achievements against assessment criteria, to enable you to see how to improve or develop particular aspects of your work. Throughout the module you receive formative feedback through individual and/or group tutorials, peer seminar sessions and group critiques.


Field trips

Field trips are an essential part of developing industrial awareness and seeking inspiration. We regularly go to major design industry events such as Milan Design Fair, make trips to cultural venues and studios in London, and to cultural and industry sites and designer makers in the region.

Work placements, industry links and internships

The 2nd year of the course includes a work experience module and industry live projects, and we run ‘one off’ live projects such as HAKtion Factory interactive installation. Live projects and clients have included ASOS, Bath Abbey, Dyson in 2015, MoreySmith in 2014 and 2013, and Bisque Radiators in 2012.

List of current alumni careers

Our graduates work for international design and manufacture companies, contemporary designers and design marketing agencies. Others are self employed and put their designs into production, exhibiting internationally. We also have graduates working successfully in curation, publishing, design research, computer aided design, and taking apprenticeships in ceramics, jewellery and architectural glass.


We are based in the course studios where each student is assigned a dedicated workspace. Your studio space will become ‘your world’. In our experience no two desks are ever the same and this creates a dynamic and exciting environment. Most of the teaching takes place in the studio, and we have the freedom to shape it to fit our needs. It is a creative environment that supports your autonomy and the development of a strong creative vision. It is home for our mutually supportive course community.


Students on IMO are free to choose the most appropriate material to execute their ideas, and they have full access to the range of School workshops. There are numerous workshop facilities, supported by experienced technical staff, including [but not limited to]:

  • Wood
  • Ceramics (hand build, throwing and slip cast)
  • Glaze Lab
  • Metal
  • Plastics
  • Textiles
  • Screen Printing
  • Sion Hill Forge
  • Paint and Pigment
  • Casting (resins, plasters etc)
  • Heat press
  • Sand Blasting
  • Dye lab


In addition to our materials workshops, you will also have access to comprehensive digital workshops and facilities.

You will be given short courses to familiarise yourself with the necessary programmes and encouraged to experiment between the physical and digital practices. We are constantly adding to our digital technology, current facilities include:

  • Digital Suites for Illustrator and Photoshop
  • Suite for Rhino and rendering
  • Laser cutting (plastics, paper, wood)
  • CNC routing
  • 3D printing
  • 3D Engraver / Miller
  • Vinyl plotter cutter
  • Ceramic transfer printer
  • ZSK embroidery machine
  • Makerbot
  • Arduino

Teaching methods

We have a thriving 'studio culture', which means you work from the course studios, and this is where most learning and teaching takes place. This is where we spend most time and is the basis for our strong mutually supportive course community. You’ll have plenty of 1 to 1 interaction with tutors in the studio, which supports your creative individuality. You’re taught by experienced experts, including module tutors who you see regularly, and visiting lecturers from the design industry who contribute different perspectives and energy. You’ll also be supported by experienced technical staff. While the majority of teaching is 1 to 1 or group tutorials, talks and crits (constructive critical discussions of student work), you’ll also have some lectures and seminars, particularly in contextual studies. You’re also expected to study independently outside of taught sessions.

Studio Space

Application method

Thinking about IMO?

IMO interest

We look for motivated students who want to draw on their current interests and pursue a creative career. At this stage, you do not need to know exactly what you would like to do or how you fit into the ever-changing world of design; the 3 year programme is designed to find those answers.

As well as looking at your current work, we will be interested in your future ambitions, what you are currently fascinated by and what you do in your spare time to feed your fascinations.

Blogs such as Dezeen and Designboom are good places to look for experimental and emerging design – use them as starting points to explore contemporary areas of interest that you can bring to the conversation at interview.

Although many students are aged 19-24 and come from a foundation programme, we value the life experience and diversity of applicants from other age groups and backgrounds.

If you are driven to learn, fascinated by the visual and material world, keen to work hard and be challenged, then we welcome your application. 

Academic years start in Autumn each year and application enquiries and further information below.

Open Days

Come along to one of our Sion Hill Open Days, you will have a chance to speak to the staff and students as well as see the workshops and studios. Visit our Open Days webpage for upcoming dates and to book your place. 

How to apply

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 accept a wide range of qualifications for entry to our undergraduate programmes. The main ones are listed below:

  • A Level - Grades BCC with Grade B in Art, or other art/design related subject preferred.
  • BTEC - Extended Diploma grades Merit Merit Merit (MMM) preferred in a related subject.
  • International Baccalaureate - A Minimum of 27 points required with a Pass at grade 6 or above in an Art related subject.
  • Access to HE courses - Typical offers for applicants with Access to HE will be the Access to HE Diploma or Access to HE Certificate (60 credits, 45 of which must be Level 3, including 30 at merit or higher).

We recommend that applicants undertake a pre-degree foundation diploma in Art and Design in addition to the qualification listed above but will consider applicants without this.

English Language Requirements for International and EU Applicants

IELTS 6.0 - for visa nationals, with a minimum score of IELTS 5.5 in each element.

Applicants who meet our entry criteria will be invited by email to interview at our Sion Hill Campus and will be required to bring a high quality portfolio in support of their application.. More details will be supplied to invited applicants.

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".

All Over The Shop

All Over The Shop is a collection of creative responses to the traditional hardware store. The exhibition form parts of a 3rd year "Professional Context" module. The project gave students professional experience of all aspects of running an independent exhibition, they covered everything from visitor experience, sponsorship, and press to building a website, planning the opening night and working as a team. Find out more

Some words from IMO3...

"To us the Hardware store is an Aladdin’s cave of curious products, densely displayed with the brash and beautiful side by side. It is a place that inspires our hands-on, DIY mentality. We selected three items each to work from which informed our experiments, mistakes, speculations and prototypes. Together our work forms a collection of new tools, materials and objects."

"Our exhibition brings all of our work together in a new context by celebrating collaborative collections which display harmonious visual connections, and showcases our passion for making." 

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.