Design History and Theory is offered at introductory and advanced levels to students across design disciplines. The courses are designed to engage with and reflect upon emergent practices and discourses in contemporary design.
Introduction to Theory and History of Design I
Design and its Interrelations with Technological Development and Social Justice
As designers, we are actively involved in making the future of our communities and planet. This requires us to explore the role and responsibility of design in contributing towards issues of social justice and planetary health. In this lecture series, we critically and creatively explore the relations between design and society with a focus on its ethical, political and environmental dimensions. In particular, we will look at the links between design, technological change, and current societal challenges, such as artificial intelligence, climate change, digitalisation, inequality, privacy, surveillance, and sustainability. We will explore the ideologies of design tools and products, and the legacies through which they were given form. This lecture series visits some of the key moments in design history, demonstrating the strong link between designers’ engagement with prevailing technologies and their vision of reform, beauty, and social change. We will furthermore explore design justice principles and co-design practices as movements in design that aim to ensure a more equitable distribution of design’s benefits and burdens.
Course language: German
Theory and History of Design I
Audiences in Design: From Passive Consumers to Active Users
Understanding of audiences has changed. Former ideas of viewers, spectators and consumers understood audiences as passive. New ideas have shaped more active terms such as users, participants, respondents and ‘prosumers.’ New creative strategies and practices have responded to, engaged with, and produced new audiences. In this pro-seminar we are going to explore the birth of the user as a key category in design production. In particular, we will seek to understand the way technological objects and processes shape the way designers understand and conceive of users. On the one hand, technologies influence the way designers design for, gather information about and imagine their target audiences. On the other, designers create technologies that shape individual behaviour, identity and subjectivity. In this proseminar we will problematise the notion of the ‘user’ and critically examine the agency of users by exploring key design paradigms in a historical context. We will discuss why understanding and engaging your audience is important and explore ideas of audience as spectator and audience as participant or co-creator.
Course language: German
Material Culture I
Modern Childhood within the Design World
Today, children are targeted by different fields of design, from toys, furniture, apps through to fashion, interior and urban spaces. While legal, social, and parental guardians mainly control children’s monetary issues, the design world imposes the non-adult gender, socio-cultural and economical ideas for consumerism that mirror modes of adult life. This seminar focuses on the domain of childhood and design. Through museum visits, interdisciplinary texts, and video and film sources, the course introduces students to academic discussion on the archeology of childhood, childhood histories and theories, teen consumerism, inclusive design, leisure and play and food design. It asks how ‘children’, and the various stages of childhood, have been invented, appropriated and challenged by design and designers, ultimately questioning what the consequences of design’s interventions might be.
Course language: English
Design and Diversity
Design and Diversity: Your Yoga-Mat is not for Yoga
Today’s design landscape is characterized by innovative blend of multiple globalised sources, efficiently churning out commodities claiming universality. In the production process factors regarding originality, inspiration, and functionality are intertwined crucial to create befitting and relevant design. But does this contemporary practice lead us to same-ness and homogeneity of value, or does it call for cultural hybridization? How can today’s practice of doing design impact cultural significance and appropriation? These initial questions lead to the main questions, how would we claim Authenticity in the future? Is it even necessary to claim it? To answer these questions, it is critical to engage in lesser-known perspectives in Design History and to analyse historical transformation and future implementation as well. For this purpose, this course offers case studies and themes from diverse and decentred point of views to drift away from established narratives of Western Design. Taking examples from the Global South, the seminar will be an exploration between the idea of inspiration, authenticity, and innovation.
Course language: English