73452 - Product Design T (A-K)

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Decent work and economic growth Industry, innovation and infrastructure Responsible consumption and production

Academic Year 2020/2021

Learning outcomes

At the end of the workshop the student knows the design elements of the primary consumer goods at low prices and knows how to guide the development of a complete project. In particular, at the end of the ex-chair seminar, practical and theoretical activities envisaged, the student possesses the skills necessary to satisfy the needs of the user through his direct involvement, through the application of ergonomic methods, surveys, as well as questionnaires / interviews , task analysis, direct observations and ethnographies. In this context, the student knows how to set up, conduct and monitor a project activity which, through an ergonomically oriented approach, is aimed at increasing product performance and improving the psycho-physiological conditions of those who use them, has a conscious approach to the process of concept generation, it has the ability to synthesize design capable of bringing together the technological and producibility aspects on the expressive and formal value of the product. It also possesses the skills regarding the phases of technical design and technical production development.

Course contents

The Course addresses the theme: Design for the enhancement of living excellences and intangible cultural heritage.

Questioning oneself on the approaches, methods and tools through which design can interact with the territory within a cultural dimension, implies a reflection on the ways in which it relates to the forms, processes and knowledge inherited from the past. Design can in fact communicate with the dimension of the past and learn from “things”, in order to produce artifacts capable of narrating a process of assimilation of memory naturally projected into the future.

This relationship has a recent history based on the progressive coming together of two apparently antithetical concepts, because they are historically linked. One is cultural heritage, associated with the forms and inheritances of the past, and the other, that of design, is linked to the dimension of innovation. Yet, in the last fifty years, the evolution of cultural heritage has experienced a pathway that has changed its nature, borders, constraints and conceptual proximities. Our perception of “asset” linked to the past has expanded, taking the place of the more limited concept of “things” to be protected and preserved. Safeguards have progressively moved from the conservation of individual buildings to entire urban districts, to the landscape, and even to the manifestations of intangible cultures, associated with anthropology, oral traditions, and rituals and systems of historical interaction with the environment. The intangible dimension of cultural heritage, preserved in the form of knowledge, processes and techniques, can be traced back to UNESCO’s definition of cultural heritage, in which there is a more active role for both processes and the community (https://ich.unesco.org/en/what-is-intangible-heritage-00003 e http://www.unesco.it/it/ItaliaNellUnesco/Detail/189).

At the same time, it is possible to find a progressive complexification of the meanings attributed to industrial project practices in relation to cultural heritage. The role played by design as regards the value dimension of cultural heritage (Design for Cultural Heritage and Design with Cultural Heritage), today, seems to open up to a new responsibility. This involves implications that regard the selective and coding dimension of the cultural heritage itself (Design as Cultural Heritage and Beyond).

Can design and communication have a role in renewing the definition of cultural heritage?

Design goes beyond the merely narrative dimension of cultural heritage, to take on a generative dimension aimed at changing behaviors and activating new knowledge, awareness and relationships through the design of products and services.

Starting from this question, the Studio aims to develop a series of design paths described below.

  • Matter-process-centric. Designing products/services to enhance traditions, crafts and production activities that are still alive, especially in our territory.
  • Nature-centric. Designing products/services starting from biodiversity, the vegetal world and the landscape, as a cultural asset.
  • Man-body-centric. Designing products/services starting from performing arts, social practices that involve the evolutionary transformations of the body, from rituals, festive events
  • Place-data-centric. Designing products/services to generate new forms of collective memory and its link with the territory, starting from digital data as a new raw material for the project.

Within these design paths, students, under the guidance of the teaching staff, will identify possible contexts/design scenarios.


  • Phase 0 (September-October 2020): Literacy and research
  • Phase 1 (October 2020) - Scenarios building
  • Phase 2 (October-November 2020) - Concept development
  • Phase 3 (December 2020) - Design development


Istituto per i beni artistici, culturali e naturali (IBC) dell’Emilia Romagna.
The collaboration will take place through lectures, guided tours (if possible) and intermediation with the contact persons about the developed topic, also through involvement, in the form of guests, in the classroom.


The professors will provide, in their lectures and in the moments of revision, precise references to texts, web sites, magazines and documents available to deepen the topics presented.

In addition, bibliographic information may be added based on the information needed during the course.

Suggested readings:

  • Celaschi, F. Il design della forma merce, Il sole 24 ore edizioni, Milano 2000
  • Celaschi, F., Deserti, A., Design e Innovazione, Carocci, Roma 2007
  • Celaschi, F., Non industrial design, Luca Sossella, Milano 2017
  • Collina, C. (Ed.), E-R Design - Estetica del quotidiano negli istituti culturali dell’Emilia-Romagna, Collana IBC Digital, Bologna 2017
  • Formia, E. & Celi, M. (Eds.), Humanities Design Lab. Le culture del progetto e le scienze umane e sociali, Maggioli, Sant’Arcangelo di Romagna (RN) 2016
  • Formia, E., Storie di futuri e design. Anticipazione e sostenibilità nella cultura italiana del progetto, Maggioli, Sant’Arcangelo di Romagna (RN) 2017
  • Zannoni, M. (2018). Progetto e interazione. Il design degli ecosistemi interattivi. Macerata: Quodlibet.
  • Zannoni, M., & Formia, E. M. (2018). “Geo-media” e Data Digital Humanities. Ll ruolo della memoria collettiva nel progetto del territorio. MD Journal, 5(2), 116–129.

Teaching methods

The Course is structured through lectures, testimonials from guests (professionals, companies), visits, assistance to desk and field research, up to the realization of models and prototypes.

These methods correspond to the structure of the Course, subdivided into 3 phases: research, concept development, final design with prototyping.

The teaching group will accompany the design process in all its phases, supervising classroom work with the students and guaranteeing collective and individual reviews.

The work in the classroom, as well as the reviews, represent a fundamental step of the learning path by the students: the presence will therefore be mandatory.

Students will also be invited to participate in events promoted by the University Course (seminars with national and international guests, exhibitions, competitions, etc.).

The teaching methods will provide:

• frontal lessons

• classroom exercises, sometimes to be concluded as home assignments

• revisions to individual groups

• presentations by invited guests

• possible visits to the realities involved

• collective checks during the development of the three research phases, concept and detailed project

Assessment methods

The Course foresees the delivery and evaluation of the outputs for each of the three phases in which it is carried out.

The intermediate deliveries will take place on predetermined dates, indicated in the general calendar. Each group will present its progress publicly with slideshows and, for each of the three phases, a judgment will be expressed.

Intermediate evaluations will form the final judgment of each student (in part, the result of collective work and, in part, of individual work).

Since this is an integrated course, the final judgment will be formulated on the basis of the individual judgments of the professors holding the teaching modules.

They contribute to the formulation of the judgment:

• quality of the documents presented and the model;

• quality of research and project;

• active participation in the course;

• punctuality in lessons and deliveries.

Examination method

At the exam each group will have 20 minutes to illustrate the stages of their work: research, project, models.

Frequency obligation

Course attendance is mandatory. Students who are absent for more than 30% of the lessons will not be admitted to the final evaluation with a signature.

Teaching tools

  • IOL
  • TEAMS: online teaching activities
  • MURAL: for brainstormingand other forms of co-design
  • Presentations / slideshow;
  • Individual and collective revisions of students' work;
  • Collaboration with external structures (model laboratory, photographic laboratory, libraries, etc.);
  • Final exhibition of the works.

Office hours

See the website of Elena Maria Formia