The traveling exhibition FORM: Line-Plane-Solid responds to a need for new discussion about form within industrial design education. We attempt to renew the concept of form-giving through an iterative and rigorous process of making. We use the term, “form-matrix,” as a pedagogical prompt, a start, to talk about primitive form in the design studio. The matrix is a construct of various divisions of form, though not exhaustive, and how they overlap and inform each other. Think of Line, Plane, and Solid as modes of form, while Flow, Tecto, and Roto are genres, a more specialized classification having to do with behavior: fluid, tectonic, or rotational (see image left).

The work emerges from a triangulation of courses in the sophomore year of industrial design at Virginia Tech: analog and digital visualization, hand and digital craft, and the studio – the hub of our curriculum. We have reshaped our course of study to address the qualitative nature of form-giving, while building on the existing “Bauhausian” workshops within our School. This pedagogical paradigm focuses our studio on “search,” rather than “solution,” through making. The projects are exercises (concept-to-form) and products (form-to-product).

The exhibit is a celebration of three years of the “form studio” in the industrial design program, featuring more than 200 projects and 90 students. The exhibition architecture, a custom modular, aluminum system, comprising over 600 “connectors” and 1100 “tubes,” is designed for travel by a team of 20 students and one faculty.