As a student in the Furniture Design program, you’ll gain multifaceted exposure to both traditional and cutting-edge processes and materials as you develop a keen understanding of how ideas evolve from design to manufacturing to marketing. You’ll begin by studying foundational elements such as 2D and 3D design, design drawing, and CAD before moving into an intensive and rigorous exploration of furniture design that incorporates ornamentation, detailing, rendering, digital modeling, design development, materials, sustainable processes, and industry trends and practices.
You’ll also round your education out with a wide range of general education and art history courses that will stimulate your curiosity, broaden your perspective, and inspire new creative expressions. KCAD’s flexible General Education Pathways model empowers you to direct your learning by exploring subjects you find most engaging and relevant.
As you progress through the Furniture Design program, you’ll become a creative, technically-inclined problem solver who can envision original furniture designs that balance aesthetics, function, and user experience. Through hands-on experience, you’ll become adept at designing for production, understanding how to tailor your work for specific technological applications and manufacturing processes.
You’ll develop a deep understanding of where the furniture industry has been and where it’s going next, helping you position your designs within a larger industry framework. You’ll also build a strong and broadly-applicable set of written, oral, and visual communication skills as you master the design process and learn to apply it to a wide variety of challenges and opportunities.
As a student in one of the oldest and most renowned furniture design programs in the country, you’ll benefit from a rich continuing legacy of design leadership and industry interaction. From its beginnings in the heyday of Grand Rapids’ reign as the furniture capital of the world, the Furniture Design program has continually produced graduates who go on to influence the industry through their work for leading companies like Baker, Bassett, Bernhardt Interiors, Century Furniture, Drexel Heritage, Henredon, and La-Z-Boy, to name a few. KCAD alumni can frequently be found in the winners’ circle of the American Society of Furniture Designers Pinnacle Awards, one of the industry’s most coveted awards.
With other leading companies like Hooker, Howard Miller, and Stanley, as well as office furniture giants Herman Miller, Haworth, and Steelcase located right in your backyard, you’ll have no shortage of industry exposure and internship opportunities.
You’ll graduate from the Furniture Design program prepared to enter the industry as an independent designer, working on a freelance or contract basis, or with an industry leading company. You’ll also be well positioned to pursue a career as a buyer or consultant, furniture builder, furniture restorer, or prototype designer.
As a student in the Furniture Design program, you’ll have access to KCAD’s Baker Furniture Collection, a 1,500-square foot collection of period furniture and decorative arts spanning more than three centuries of styles from around the world. This incredible resource is always available to you for study, inspiration, and contemplation. You’ll also have access to a spacious and well-equipped woodshop, supervised by an experienced technician, at your disposal, with over 30 pieces of equipment including table saws and a fully-ventilated spray both for finishes.
Elsewhere on campus, you’ll have access to The Dow Center FlexLab, KCAD’s state-of-the-art digital fabrication facility featuring 3D printers and scanners, laser cutting and vinyl cutting machines, wide format printers, and more; KCAD’s Material ConneXion Library, which offers direct access to more than 1,000 physical samples of advanced, innovative, and sustainable materials as well as online access to over 7,000 more; the KCAD Library, which provides access to millions of books through the MeLCat shared library catalog as well as access to specialized research databases and subscriptions to scholarly journals; and much more.
Furniture Design students also benefit from access to industry interactions, guest speakers, design forums, and other events hosted by Design West Michigan, a KCAD organization that explores and advocates for design as an economic building block in the region.
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A problem-solving course covering the principles of composition and modular design systems. Uses predominately abstract shapes and black, white, and achromatic gray ranges.(Students who have earned credit for VISC 110, Design I, may not use credit earned in KCPA 110 to meet graduation requirements.)
To explore the elements, principles and aesthetic concepts integral to three-dimensional design and to consider relationships between concept, process, materials, tools and technical skills. (Students who have earned credit for ARTS 120, 3-D Design, may not use credit earned in KCSF 11 to meet graduation requirements.)
Design and construction opportunities and challenges presented by the addition of function to fine art are addressed through intensive study of studio woodworking techniques. An emphasis will be placed upon artistic expression that coincides with archival construction methods.
The creation, manipulation, and employment of three-dimensional, digital models in the industrial design process.
An introduction to the computer as a design tool using the industry standards in page layout and digital illustration, and photo manipulation software, the Adobe Creative Suite. File transport (PDF) and font management software will also be introduced.
Freehand drawing using basic perspective principles and quick sketch techniques.
An introduction to the materials and manufacturing processes typically explored in the design process. The course emphasizes the practice of choosing a material and process specification strategy based on product application criteria.
Introduces students to the visual skills and communication methods used in the furniture design profession.
Analysis and study of historical furniture ornamentation, including: veneers and benchwork, profile turnings, profile moldings, carving and embossing, and decorative hardware. Materials and manufacture of these elements are studied, researched, and detailed. The utilization of these elements and the recognition of typical style applications and their appropriate representations are emphasized.
The study of furniture design through researching proportion, scale, and typical style elements. Students will prepare furniture designs for residential products including tables, casegoods, and seating. Development of product presentation abilities.
The study of furniture product design with an emphasis on the development of product groups and collections. Includes extensive research into styling, element utilization, and product adaptation, as well as product presentation.
Investigation and study of current trends in business practices and business models to evaluate their impact on the professions of furniture design.
Design of original furniture products through the effective use of functional considerations, and production methods. Students will demonstrate product development through both 2-D and 3-D and/or CAD techniques. Product presentations, both verbal and visual, will approach professional standards. Course may be repeated.
Capstone project, determined in conference with the faculty advisor is to utilize all of the skills learned in the Furniture Design major. The student is expected to define a design problem and resolve it through the use of sketches, detail drawings, and models or prototypes (optional).
An in-depth study of the principles of detailing hard-seating goods. Includes the examination of differing forms, structures, materials, and manufacturing capabilities.
An in-depth study of the design and detailing of upholstered seating goods.
An overview of the Western Art tradition from prehistory through the Renaissance using a socio-cultural methodology in a chronological framework. (Students who have earned credit for ARTH 110, Prehistoric through Middle Ages, may not use credit earned in KCAH 111 to meet graduation requirements.)
A survey of Western art from the Baroque to the present, this course will continue building upon the foundation of Western Art I; Prehistoric through the Renaissance, using a socio-cultural methodology in a chronological framework. (Students who have earned credit for ARTH 111, Renaissance through 20th Century, may not use credit earned in KCAH 112 to meet graduation requirements.)
A survey of Design History from ancient cultures to the eighteenth century, emphasizing developments in architecture, interiors, furniture, decorative, and fine arts.
A continuation of the survey Design History from the eighteenth century to the present emphasizing developments in architecture, interiors, furniture, decorative, and fine arts.
This course focuses on using writing to develop ideas, hone critical thinking skills, and express ideas clearly and appropriately according to audience and purpose. Students write in a variety of modes and spend a portion of the semester engaging in scholarly research. Students also develop their public speaking skills.
This course provides a core understanding of effective storytelling. It examines the ways in which storytellers-both past and present-craft, organize, and convey ideas to successfully impact audiences, doing so through both inquiry into established narratives, as well as students' own experiments with narrative forms.
This course examines what it means to be a member of a particular society and how individuals both form and are formed by society. It will provide students with a better understanding of the social and cultural worlds they inhabit.
This course is an inquiry into the nature and power of philosophy to transform the way we experience the world around us and understand our place within it. Through a selection of readings representing various philosophical traditions and perspectives, critical discussion, and writing, students will examine some of the great questions that have intrigues philosophers from antiquity to present.
Download the catalog for the most recent course listings and prerequisites.
As a graduate of the Furniture Design program, you’ll use a variety of skills to design new furniture and related products for industrial, commercial, and domestic clients. The products vary greatly, from bespoke (custom-made or commissioned) design or limited runs of furniture to mass-produced items.
You’ll be prepared to engage in work that includes a number of functions, particularly for the self-employed, including designer, production manager, buyer, and salesperson.