Our Curriculum

Over the last five years, the skill set and quality of work has increased considerably when judged on craftsmanship, drawing skills, presentation, and production work.  This can be attributed to refinements in our technical curriculum department wide.

Click on the highlighted headings to go to blog entries for those particular classes.

Introduction to Furniture             FURNT -100

Taught by Barbara Holmes and Russell Baldon. These courses provide the fundamentals of woodworking and its application to furniture. There is an emphasis on precision, the development of craft skills and the concept of “physical” as well as intellectual learning. This course provides the basic knowledge and experience necessary for intelligent use of the machine room facilities and is recommended for any students wishing to use this facility regularly. Students are also introduced to the concerns and concepts of sustainability.

Techniques: Cabinet             FURNT-212

Last taught by Donald Fortescue and Paul Discoe. This course expands on the techniques learned in the Intro course, particularly in the tuning and use of hand tools – marking gauges and knives, chisels, hand-planes and handsaws. This class helps students develop strong woodworking techniques and a deeper understanding of the history and technology of both the Western and Eastern traditions of woodworking.

Techniques: Chair             FURNT-208

Taught by Russell Baldon. The chair is a challenging furniture form and this course is devoted to examining, dissecting, designing and making one based on your own original concept. This semester we are fortunate to have the sponsorship of Wilsonart Laminate which will provide students with free materials from their vast product line. A team from Wilsonart will select from the projects completed at the end of the semester and take the winning design and its builder to the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York City in the Spring of 2012. A $1000 scholarship will also be awarded to the winner and several runner-up chairs will additionally be included in the show. Many advanced woodworking techniques will be covered as we address the unique methods of construction used in frame, volumetric, and planar seating. Students will be expected to develop conceptual ideas and the strategies to express them through one or more of these techniques with their final completed chair.

Techniques: Soft             FURNT-204

Taught by Mary Little and Peter Wheeler. This studio focuses on contemporary upholstery techniques applicable to creating prototypes for large-scale production, producing editions, or making one-of-a-kind pieces. Upholstery is not straightforward or simple, though the best pieces may look that way. The process is multi-skilled and multilayered. An understanding of the whole process is essential for a designer to accomplish his or her goals. In class, each student designs and constructs an ottoman for a particular interior and develops innovative design concepts appropriate to the context. During showroom visits, students learn about the technical construction of contemporary furniture and the selection of upholstery fabrics. Upon completion of the course, each student will have a well-made contemporary piece, a new skill set, knowledge of contemporary upholstery and exposure to a wealth of experience in European and North American furniture design. The class is open to designers who want to learn or practice hands-on design skills as a method of design development. Students from majors such as Architecture, Fashion Design, Furniture, Interior Design, Industrial Design, and Textiles are welcome.

Techniques: Metal             FURNT-216

Taught by Lawrence LaBianca. This course is a comprehensive introduction to metal fabrication techniques through the metal studio and welding facility on the San Francisco campus. Techniques covered include cutting, stamping, milling, bending, cold fastening, welding and soldering sheet metal and extrusions. It also investigates manufacturing processes readily available locally, such as casting, plasma cutting, CNC milling, spinning, plating and powder coating. Students design, develop and fabricate lighting systems or lamps using a variety of these techniques. A focus on cutting edge LED systems and an off campus show at Design Within Reach have been part of the recent course offerings.

Design Communication 1             INDUS-104

Taught through the Industrial Design Department. This course provides a rigorous foundation in precision hand drawing skills. It begins with the fundamentals of line weight, shading, lighting, composition and basic layout and continues with precision drawing, sketching, rendering and perspective. Instructors give weekly demonstrations of materials, techniques and visualization followed by assignments designed to develop these skills.  Feedback is provided on each student’s design process and progress through individual desk crits with the instructor as well as group presentations and critiques.

Drawing for Furniture             FURNT-206

Taught by Cory Robinson. Expanding on DC1 but tailored to more personal expression than continuing with DC2. We’ve come to understand that the range of interests and styles within our department’s student body is better served by a class more specifically tailored to their individual needs rather that the industry standards. That said, Drawing for Furniture will help students translate ideas into communicable visual designs and help them pose problems and solve them on paper. Students will be introduced to sketching and perspective techniques and a range of manual and computer drafting techniques. Topics to be covered include: 3D sketching, basic engineering drawing, problem solving on the drawing board, visual communication for clients and fabricators, and an introduction to computer drafting and modeling.

Drawing Technology             FURNT308

Taught by Jon Oxford. This course focuses on using computer-modeling tools in the context of the creative process. The course focuses on drawing for ‘real world’ applications and will be using the laser cutter and CNC mill to create components and objects developed with SolidWorks. All major SolidWorks tools and environments will be covered in this intensive skills-based class. By learning to incorporate powerful parametric 3D modeling techniques early in the design process, students will have the tools to develop complex, accurate, and flexible designs. Projects involve rapidly producing multiple iterations, photo realistic rendering and physical prototypes developed for and implemented on the laser cutter and CNC mill. Skills attained in the class are widely applicable in design, sculpture and engineering fields.

Production 1             FURNT-316

Currently taught by Russell Baldon. The course focuses on investigating manufacturing processes, managing competitive bids, and establishing relationships with outside vendors and clients.  This class is part of the Engage @ CCA program within the Center for Art and Public Life.  This means we choose a public partner as a client – former partners include Lighthouse Community Charter School of Oakland and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco – and design specific items to suit their needs.  This endeavor is also enhanced with the help of local design professionals who reveal their real world practices to the students and help to guide them throughout the process.  Past design professionals include the staff of Coalesse Furniture and Derek Chen of Council.

Production 2             FURNT-416

Taught by Philip Wood. This class continues to develop the concepts introduced in Production 1 but focuses more on the targeted branding and marketing of a product. Collaboration and sub-contracting to realize a complex project is emphasized. Considerations include design and production in a variety of media, visual and oral communication, pricing and budget estimation and timelines. Several specific objects (a ‘product line’) is designed and a selection realized using the studio as a ‘center of operations’. The outcomes of the class are expected to be commercially viable and to form the basis of an ongoing entrepreneurial activity. A product launch at a venue in San Francisco is an integral part of this course.

History and Theory of 20th Century Furniture FURNT-360

Taught by Donald Fortescue. The course provides a historical underpinning to the student’s understanding of the furniture field. The class studies the origins of modern design and the major schools and philosophies of 20th Century furniture design. This ranges from the 19th century roots of the Industrial Revolution, the Arts and Crafts movement, European design movements such as the Vienna Werkstatte and the Bauhaus, the development of the first international styles such as Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Modernism, through to contemporary studio art furniture, the use of furniture forms by contemporary visual artists and contemporary conceptual design. Throughout the seminar, the social, economic and cultural context of furniture is emphasized and discussions focus on the evolution of the domestic realm and the role of furniture within it. Students complete a series of short writing exercises, develop a concept and catalog for an exhibition of furniture design and complete written exams as part of their assessment.

Professional Practice             FURNT-304

Taught by Philip Wood.

This course takes an in-depth look an individual’s work, its motivations, cultural context and conditions. While looking at the efficacy of existing methods and approaches within design and art, the course also develops practical strategies and critical thinking to broaden student understanding of the discipline and the topology of the culture it inhabits.

Ergonomics of Space            FURNT-204

Taught by Barbara Holmes and Oblio Jenkins This interdisciplinary studio will explore how various types of space (both real and imagined) and the tactile material qualities of furniture can inform and work together to provide an enjoyable and meaningful human experience. In groups, students will identify, design, and build temporary and permanent installations within the CCA school campus that addresses the studio’s theme – the ergonomics of space. Through this series of exercises, students will gain a greater understanding of ergonomics – the technology concerned with the design, manufacture, and arrangement of products and environments to be safe, healthy, and comfortable for human beings. The learning outcomes of this course will be especially valuable to students of the Architecture and Furniture Departments.

Studio: Atelier             FURNT-300-01

Taught by various leaders from around the world in the art and design fields. This is a unique opportunity to work hand in hand with leading practitioners in the field and get a detailed understanding of their thinking and methods. Past instructors have included: Scott Constable, Michael Cooper, Walter Kintundu, Michael Hurwitz, David Trubridge, Richard LaTrobe Bateman, Gord Peteran and Michael Hosaluk.

Senior Studio 1 & 2             FURNT -400

Taught by Donald Fortescue

This class seeks to facilitate group and individual critiques towards the development of an integrated body of work. Students delineate a program of advanced study and media exploration tailored to possible career pathways. This course covers all the necessary steps students must achieve to mount their senior exhibition held each spring.  This exhibition takes place off campus in a commercial gallery setting. The Senior Studio is the capstone experience for graduating BFA students and is intended to launch their professional careers.


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