SURFACE studio

Course Introduction

Introducing Fundamental Design Elements

In his “Pedagogical Sketchbook (1954),” Paul Klee addresses fundamentals of design in the context of education. He classifies units of visual spatial design – Point, Line, and Plane – and regulating principles that can be used to expand the elements in space. For example, a dot can move (a principle); the footprint of a moving dot creates a line. A line, as another type of element, can move again creating a flat plane, etc. These simple elements and the mechanisms that bind them together become the base knowledge of the postwar Bauhaus design curriculum. Design educators, researchers and professionals all have accepted these as the basics that provide us a toolkit, a system to work with.

In this project, students are going to experiment using the basic elements to create forms and structures of a surface. The goal of the first project is to make students aware of the basics, Point, Line, Plane, and their expansion in space. The utility of the simple set of elements will be emphasized during the process of creating and developing individual design concepts and the resulting form.


The project

Students will develop a self-standing surface form in 3 dimensional space. The final surface functions as a spatial envelop. It should be fine to think of the form as a kind of a large horizontal or vertical installation – sculptural piece – that needs no further structure.

Some necessary constraints are:

  • Self-standing structure (not necessarily vertical or horizontal, g. okay to design a floor surface) with structural boundaries or edges (additional framework might required later)
  • Surface with structural framework underneath (whether the structure is clearly visible/separated from the skin or not)
  • The final form should be composition of one of the basic elements (point, line, plane) and clearly show that the form is a composite of one or more elements.


Goals and objectives 

The course aims to provide the opportunity to understanding and learning of the following aspects of architectural design:

  • Basics of design elements by working with the principles (one or more) that generate/control the elements
  • Design methods & techniques: drawing and model-building as the important ways of developing abstract design concepts
  • Construction of 3d form is the result of facilitating design elements; space is the by-product of the composition of physical elements
  • Common visual spatial aesthetics: principles of general design composition, shape, material, scale, graphical/spatial language
  • Relationships between 2D and 3D forms and the representational techniques
  • Design process and modes of design process – synthesis and analysis.
  • Design studio culture (Learning-by-Doing) by working in the actual studio setting.


Method & Phases

Phase1: Modeling 1st Prototype

  • Overall shape construction by building a concept model.
  • Paper folding, cutting, bending, gluing…starting from actual paper surface design.
  • Flat surface transformation (into 3D)
  • Limited material choice


Phase2: Analysis

  • Extracting elements (point/point cloud, line/linear linkage) from the concept model
  • Produce analytical drawings


Phase3: Synthesis

  • Linear structure development based on the result of the analysis (see Phase2)
  • The work from this phase will become the base structure of the final form
  • Use different materials – chopsticks, plastic straws (wooden sticks/metal rods & wires/strings/or anything that’s linear)
  • Individual students can choose their own material. However it is necessary to limit the materials (something that represents lines and linear form).



Phase4: Development

  • Surface development: This phase of work can be realized as simple surface form such as contours, wall surfaces, ceiling surface with simple structure etc.
  • Ask for detailed description of the work.
  • Complex 3d forms can be produced if students can develop their own modules
  • Use mixture of materials from previous phases, combine them if necessary.

Go to Student Work