Document Type : Original Article
Department of Education, Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland
3D modelling and rapid prototyping skills have become an essential technique in design education and cross-disciplinary educational settings provide opportunities for students to develop design expertise on 3D modelling. In the present study, we focused on 3D modelling in a product design context, and we analysed what kind of design concepts emerge in students’ work when they are taught 3D modelling in a cross-disciplinary setting. This study aims to provide design educators with new insights into novices’ design practices in cross-discipline design education. The research employed a qualitative case-study approach to analyse textual and visual representations (i.e., concept maps, sketches, 3D models, and reflective reports) to explore the students’ design concepts. The cross-disciplinary setting consisted of graphic design, interior design, and product design students who were given a product form design task. All students succeeded in creating description-based concepts that met the problem requirements. However, principle-based concepts emerged only in product design students’ processes. We argue that these kinds of principle-based concepts are related to the product’s structure and functionality, when engaged students can apply product design domain-specific knowledge. In conclusion, this kind of design task has benefits for individual learning and developing usable and aesthetically appealing products. However, there is a clear need for studies that develop workshops and tasks where students can participate in collaborative multi-disciplinary projects.