Politecnico di Milano (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN09 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 3168-3178
ISBN: 978-84-612-9801-3
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 1st International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2009
Location: Barcelona ,Spain
This paper will describe an experience of design teaching activity held at the Department INDACO of the Politecnico di Milano in the academic year 2008/9. It was organised and developed as an integration to the typical didactic activity of a six-month design workshop.
The aim of the activity was to introduce a different kind of learning experience to the classical design studio programme and process.
The educational Course of Industrial Design at Politecnico [1] are mainly based on an integration of theoretical subjects and practical courses called Laboratorio di Progetto (Design Studio). “The learning is therefore interpreted as an inductive process, characterized by coexistence between theoretical and conceptual aspects (knowing) as well as applicative aspects (knowing how to do). The Faculty and the Degree Courses are based on this “inductive approach” to learning”. [2] Thus the practical experience is given more importance compared to other classical academic programs (all engineering courses at Politecnico).
Still, the way of teaching “how to do” is often theoretical or based on a compositive approach: from the very beginning the students are called to face design problems (such as the design of an industrial product) considering it its whole entity and complexity. Teachers very often suggest to solve problems looking at how that problem was solved in another similar case, with an analogy process. It is a good way of teaching to design, because it puts students in front of real problems and make them realise very soon what are the difficulties and chances of this profession.
On the other hand, to look at products (or other design objects) in their whole complexity does not allow students to concentrate on singular design characteristics (colour, form, material, light, shade, etc.) so that their ability to handle them is not stimulated or improved.
It was also meant to underline how important is to handle the sensorial component of design in the education of students. Just as it happened at Bauhaus [3] [4], it was retraced the path of knowing the materials through the expressive-sensorial aspects, so decisive for the emotional aspect of project and useful to determine the product personality. The methodologies of Basic Design will be mentioned, such as the concept of inter-subjectivity and also the pedagogical experience related to the sensoriality of materials, such as those of Bruno Munari. [5]
In this paper the results of activity developed with the students will be presented.
The first exercise presented in this papers is to let student concentrate of the relation between colour, materials and their effects on senses. The exercise lasted on day (repeated twice) and was organised so to be a only inductive experience.
The second exercise is about designing and composing an evocative table of materials, made by samples that are able to communicate through their sensoriality the idea, image and sensation, that belong to the final project. Materials mood board.

[1] Penati A., Seassaro A. (eds), Didattica&Design,, Milan, 2000
[2] Percorsi formativi della Facoltà del Design/ Politecnico di Milano,
[3]Moholy Nagy L., The New Vision. Dover, New York 2005. (1938)
[4]Wick Rainer K., Teaching at the Bauhaus, Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern-Ruit, DE 2000.
[5]Munari B., I laboratori tattili, Corraini Editore, Mantova, 2004
inductive teaching, materials, sensoriality, product design.