Looking at the world in a questioning and inquisitive way and then responding to it through recording, model making, material experiments and final three-dimensional outcomes is the basis of the 3D Design course. You produce practical work in both product design and architectural design in the first year and then specialise by the second year. There is a written 1000 - 3000 word study which is completed at the start of the second year.

Ideas are further developed and refined through looking at the work of other designers and architects. This can happen through study visits to museums and galleries, as well as through liaison with local companies on specific projects. For the last 5 years our architecture briefs have been set by an Architect from 'RH partnership in Brighton' and all briefs have a 'real' context within which to work.

It is a creative rather than technology-based course and students must be willing to explore a wide variety of approaches to recording their ideas ranging from computer aided design to observational drawing. There is an emphasis upon developing sophisticated concepts through material experimentation and model making. Design tutors at Varndean are all practising artists/designers.

Year 1

  • Product design - i.e. lighting, jewellery, vessels, flat pack furniture, display
  • Architecture - i.e. outdoor pavilions, bridges, skyscrapers, temporary structures
  • Model making - using a wide range of materials
  • Material and process experiments - using all the workshop machinery
  • Critical research - analysing and getting inspiration from other designers work
  • Diverse recording skills and methods - a wide variety of approaches

Year 2

  • Adding depth to your knowledge, understanding and skills
  • A written critical and contextual study
  • Individually negotiated product or architecture project
  • Ambitious final pieces of practical work
  • A 15 hour practical exam following from a period of development

I chose to study 3D Design because I wanted to, and still want to, study architecture. I wanted the opportunity to learn not only how to create and build models, but also how to consider the building environment. I have really enjoyed the independence given to me, the ability to experiment and explore with different techniques and materials, as well as the direct hands-on teaching and feedback.

Bonnie Irvine, ex Hove ParkSchool

Course Essentials

Courses Available
A Level
Entry Requirements

Grade 5 in GCSE Art or Design Technology (resistant materials, product design, graphic products)

Merit or above in BTEC Level 2 First Diploma

If GCSE Art or Technology have not been taken, suitably qualified students with a good portfolio of work will be considered.
How The Course is Assessed
40% exam, 60% coursework
Career Pathways
Every year a large percentage of our students go on to successfully study product design, interior design, set design for theatre, design engineering and architecture at top universities including Bath, Brunel, Cambridge, Imperial College London, Loughborough, St Martin's and UCL.
Transferable Skills
Creative and aesthetic, technical, organisational and interpersonal, analytical and communication, and organisational and teamwork skills.
Other Information
Regular visits are made to design museums and exhibitions in London and the South East.
Enquiries To
Sarah Lampard Sawyer:
Pippa Forster: