Course Syllabus

Furniture Design Studio - EC

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Semester & Location:

Spring - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Core Course 6 credits

Major Disciplines:

Architecture, Design, Industrial Design


Erling Christoffersen,

Program Director:

Henning Martin-Thomsen,

Time & Place:

Tue and Fri from 13:15-17:00 in V7-31/Holmbladsgade 70B during workshop period

Faculty issue session speicifics in announcements and/or calendar (see below)

Description of course:

The Studio is the core course of your studies. Design projects are the basis for learning in the studio and will be the basis for discussions, presentations, and the development of individual design skills. The studios at DIS emphasize awareness and knowledge of designing in a context of site, society, and situation and use Copenhagen as an ‘urban laboratory’ for exploration and precedent study. Project work is done both individually and in teams.                                                             

Learning objectives across DIS design studio courses:

To enhance the individual student’s

Design Knowledge:

Building an understanding of the Danish and Scandinavian architecture and design tradition - historic as well as contemporary - through the work on assignments, and the study of precedents and case studies in studio

Design Experiences:

Exploring Danish, Scandinavian and Northern European architecture and design on field studies and study tours as well as through the exposure to Danish, Scandinavian and European faculty in studio

Design Skills:

Studying and working with Danish and Scandinavian architecture and design methods and philosophies shaped by democratichumanistic, and contextual aspirations

  • Democratic: We believe design matters to society, its well-being and progress, and our common sanity
  • Humanistic: We believe design must care for people, at all levels, in their common and individual everyday, and for the environment as the habitat for human activity
  • Contextual: We believe design connects us to what we share – the common ground, history, identity, and each other.

Learning objectives specific for this course:

The Furniture Design studio is for students enrolled in a professional school or department of architecture or design. The topics, design methods, research and assignments in this course is geared towards student's who are  fully familiar with the fundamentals of design and design development at the scale of architecture, interior architecture, product design or similar disciplines and who wish to further advance their professional skill set and understanding by applying themselves to furniture design. 

Students in this course will grow their design capacity and knowledge by

  • Studying furniture design precedents from Denmark, Scandinavia and Europe to build an understanding of the scope and fundamentals of furniture design
  • Studying and learning from precedents through in-depth research and analysis of a specific chair and the construction of a scaled model
  • Advancing their understanding of furniture design elements such as scale, dimensions, proportion, materiality, construction, and ergonomics
  • Exploring craft-based design approaches as used in the world of professional furniture design both through studio exercises as well as through introductions to contemporary furniture designers and design
  • Exploring approaches to design analysis and problem-solving based on model-making and 1:1 drawing
  • Prototyping and building of student's own design in the workshop

In the semester furniture design course the structure of the furniture will take its cue primarily from bamboo plywood but other materials can be included as well. Any additional materials are at the student’s own cost.

The program for the furniture is individual, decided by the student and guided by the faculty. It is possible to work conceptually on a new piece of furniture or to re-interpret a well-known type of furniture based on students` individual analysis and design development. No matter what the starting point is, the furniture must have a visual and structural clarity, and consequently express the main idea behind the design. 

The course is split in two loops, the first primarily taking place in studio focusing on precedent studies and design development of student's individual designs; the second loop primarily taking place at the workshop aiming at material and structural studies and eventually the construction of students own design. Access to workshop is limited to studio hours only.

Student work from Spring 2019.

Student work from Spring 2018.

Student work from Spring 2017.


Erling Christoffersen: Architect MAA. Cabinetmaker, 1974. School of Applied Art Copenhagen, 1979. Royal Academy of Fine Arts Copenhagen, 1982. Own office, 1979. Professor at School of Architecture 1986-1989. Professor at Denmark’s Design School, Copenhagen, 1989-2005. Visiting professor University of Oregon 2005. Workshops at University of Victoria 2001, 2004, 2009. Distinguished visiting professor at University of Washington. Member of Cabinetmakers Autumn Exhibition (Snedkernes Efterårsudstilling). Member of Møbelsnedkerforeningen. With DIS since 1998.


  • Mollerup, Per. Collapsibles.Thames & Hudson, 2006 (Please skim through the whole book for inspiration. Pay special attention to the furniture chapter (pp 174-227), and how to draw objects in various states of collapse).

Reading material for studio will be distributed by the studio faculty on Canvas.


Enrollment at a professional school or department of architecture or design at the junior, senior, or graduate level, and completion of a minimum of two spatial design studios prior to arrival at DIS.

Approach to Teaching

Studio instruction is a combination of one-on-one tutoring, discussions, and occasional lectures. The studios are organized as vertical studios, meaning that students of different levels will be taught within the same studio. Expectations will therefore relate to each individual student and their respective level of experience.  Studio work will include individual as well as team assignments, both of which are considered important as preparation for later work in the profession. Faculty will be teaching for 3 hours during the time period 13:15-17:00 - the time students are expected to be working in studio.

Expectations of the students

Students are required to be fully engaged in the studio discourse, be prepared for each individual desk critique, be present in studio Tuesday and Friday throughout the afternoon studio sessions (13:15-17:00), be present throughout the presentation and gallery crit sessions, and to invest time outside of studio hours developing projects. If not on field studies in another course, Wednesdays should be used to work on your studio projects as well. Mid-semester meetings with faculty will help align the expectations of the student and the professor to guide the rest of the semester.


We request you upload a digital copy of your design portfolio to your Canvas studio page. This will allow your faculty to better understand your background and will make it easier to address your individual progress in your studies in studio. Please within the first week make sure to go to your studio course on Canvas and to Assignments. Portfolio Submission and upload your portfolio.

Core Course Week

The core of the studies in the AD Program at DIS is the studio. The core course week (CCW) is a full week of studies meant to contribute to the advancement of students architectural understanding and their studio work. We do this through a dedicated focus on key themes in Danish architecture and design and the crucial skill of visual note-taking. CCW falls in two interrelated parts:

The first part takes place in Copenhagen, both in class and on field studies. Visits to relevant case studies and exercises in visual note-taking are part of the first days of CCW. The second part takes you on a three-day study tour to Western Denmark. (Full-year students go to Berlin in the spring semester).

Field Studies and Study Tours

The field studies and study tours of the Architecture and Design Program (AD) at DIS form an integral part of the learning process. We travel to places to learn through experience and through analysis. We travel to places to understand and ultimately, to become better architects and designers. 

Field Studies

Field studies are excursions to sites within the Copenhagen capital region and are composed of significant, historical sites of design interest as well as contemporary case studies linked to the studio. Field studies take place in connection with studio and at the discretion and choice of the faculty.

Study Tours

Course-integrated, faculty-led study tours are a signature of the DIS curriculum. The AD study tours are constructed around a series of fixed and recurring must-do sites (80% of sites) and new sites and visits that may change from semester to semester (20% of sites). Students travel in groups of 20-24 students, along with a faculty handling the academic visits and a co-leader handling the logistics on the tour.

During Core Course Week a the three-day study tour takes students to both contemporary and historical sites on the island of Fyn and in Jylland.

Later in the semester the week-long study tour will expand students frame of personal experience from Copenhagen to include other countries in Northern Europe.  This is an opportunity to compare what students have studied thus far in Denmark with a larger European context and in turn with previous experiences from students home country.  Visits will include both contemporary and historical sites.

Using a Visual Journal

The very classical way in which architects throughout centuries have kept track of their experiences and learning is something DIS aims to maintain an understanding of among students. We have journal courses, which give students access to ways in which to sketch, note down, annotate and diagram experiences and learning drawn from the study of buildings and places.

In Core Course Week we have introductions to visual note-taking for students that chose not to enroll in an actual journal course. Thus all AD students get exposed, in one way or another, to the very important element of visual note-taking. On the study tours we have built in sessions where students and tour leaders look at the developing sketchbooks, to share and learn from each other.

Evaluation & Grading

Evaluation is based on daily work in studio and on final presentations. Assignments are generally presented to a panel of jurors including the student’s own instructor. Grades are given by the instructor in accordance with other jurors.

To be eligible for a passing grade, you must complete all of the assigned work.

The final grade is determined as follows:



Assignment 1 - Process


Assignment 1 - Presentation


Assignmeent 2 - Process


Assignment 2 - Presentation


Evaluation Criteria for Assignments

Studio Process - Evaluation in studio is based on the following:

  • Approach: Student is motivated, positive, engaged in the project and in all studio activities, attending and prepared for every session in studio, inquisitive, self-critical, receptive to input from both faculty and fellow students.
  • Production: Student is diligent, productive, continuously engaged in sketching, prototyping, model making, and other forms of physical/digital design development, to support the progress of the project and the dialogue with faculty.
  • Innovation: Student is creative and experimenting, continuously willing to push the project forward, exploring different design opportunities, oriented towards generating unique design solutions.

Note, presence and participation at the introductions to assignments, gallery critiques, and Core Course Week events has an impact on your studio process grade.

 Final Presentation - Evaluation is based on completion of design goals agreed upon by student and studio faculty, and the criteria presented below:

  • Completeness: Student presents the required deliverables - well-crafted drawings, models and other visual presentation material - to convincingly communicate the scope and content of the project in a meaningful and creative manner.
  • Delivery: Student orally presents the project in a well-prepared and organized way, communicating the project intentions in a professional manner and engaging in a receptive and reflective dialogue with critics.
  • Design: Student presents a final product of high artistic quality that convincingly shows a conceptually clear and well-motivated design solution where the elements of the brief have been explored thoroughly and creatively.

Academic Regulations

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:

DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -

Course Summary:

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