Exploring Three-Dimensional Design by Building Models of Chairs

News · April 7, 2017

by Pat Hough, Technology Integration Director

In October, ISB’s 8th Grade students started a unit on three-dimensional design. The project required students to design chairs, first using two- and three-dimensional drawing skills, and later transferring their ideas into digital and physical models.

We began by looking at images of chairs and reading about their history. The students continued their exploration by searching for images of many different types of chairs, and after researching, they made drawings of at least four different chair designs using paper and pencil.

“When I began the chair sketches in my journal, I really wanted to create a piece of furniture that was functional and fashionable. I wanted to create something innovative and to think outside of the box. Therefore, I wasn’t thinking about the basic chairs I sit on every day, but more about how I could create a better version of the everyday chair.” -Georgia F., 8th Grade

After the paper sketches came time for some student-guided learning. Each 8th Grader worked on building digital literacy and broadening their repertoire of technological skills by transferring their designs to SketchUp, a 3D modeling program. Students  worked alongside four basic video tutorials on how to use the program, recreating their designs in a digital format.



For the next several weeks, the Design classroom became a woodworking makerspace for the students as they worked on the physical models of their chairs. Saws, sandpaper, exacto knives, craft glue, hot glue, foam core board, and cardboard became our building materials. As they finished construction, the students primed and painted their wooden models, while those who built with foam core and cardboard colored with markers. At the end, the students were impressed by what they were able to design and build.


“At the beginning, most of my design ideas were inspired by those on Google Images, but they changed and developed as I learned more about my materials and time limit. My sketches changed to match my interests or to make them easier to build later on in the process. As I built my model on SketchUp, my designs also changed a lot because of the difficulty of designing them online. Since it was hard to make cushions, I chose to work on more solid chairs, which changed later on as I built the real 3D model.”

-Annabelle J., 8th Grade

The final model chairs are currently on display in the Technology Office, located in the Learning Commons.