School of Architecture College of Design

ARCH 3250: Utility & Luxury in Furniture Design

Utility & Luxury in Furniture Design

Spring Semester 2013

Charlie Lazor

Course Description:
In this BDA Workshop we will explore utility as a governing principal of design paired with the superfluous, luxury. Utility, defined as something useful or fit for use [Merriam Webster] is commonly the virtuous armature that we hang our design work on and Luxury, something adding pleasure or comfort but not absolutely necessary, [Merriam Webster] a condition commonly considered as a corruptor of good design, an uneasy seduction through sensual pleasure to be avoided if not denied by the designer.

I am interested in exploring a design of utility and luxury as a duality that might co-exist, a design of the NECESSARY and the UNNECESSARY for the purpose that in combination two different types of human needs are fulfilled; satisfaction of need through use and emotional satisfaction through the senses. We will wrestle with this paradox, the seemingly contradictory co-presence of utility and luxury that runs counter to reductive design tenets but may in truth be a design strategy that provides a more complex human experience and satisfaction.

Embedded in our exploration are forces at play in contemporary culture; our immersion in a global digital culture, instantaneous image searches, techniques of cut and paste, sampling, and mash up all of which use multiple sources that in combination create something new. This culture and its techniques run counter to design as the practice of reduction in pursuit of purity that has been a vanguard in 20th c. design. Where are we designers going as conscious actors and sub conscious participants in parts swimming and adrift in the cultural current of today? How may the world around us offer up clues that direct our sensibilities as well as our critical thinking to develop a framework for how and what we design, in this case seeking a union of dichotomies, utility and luxury, in the design of a piece furniture.

We will be exploring this question through hands on making: models, full scale studies and a full scale piece of furniture of your design.


School of Architecture
145 Rapson Hall
89 Church Street
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Fax: 612-624-5743


Contact Information

College of Design

Saint Paul Offices

32 McNeal Hall, 1985 Buford Ave, St. Paul, MN 55108

P: 612-626-9068 | F: 612-625-1922

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Minneapolis Offices

101 Rapson Hall, 89 Church St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455

P: 612-626-9068 | F: 612-625-7525

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