Recent major research projects in the department include: ‘Victor J. Papanek: Émigré Culture Networks and the Founding of Social Design’ FWF (Austrian Science Fund) 2013–2018, Principal Investigator Alison J. Clarke. The internationally networked project considered the legacy of émigré intellectual networks as an identifiable element in the creation of the 1970s socially responsible and humanist design movements. Its related outputs include the international travelling exhibition and related catalogue Victor Papanek: The Politics of Design (2018–2021) co-curated by Alison J. Clarke with Vitra Design Museum in cooperation with Barcelona Design Museum, and Clarke’s monograph Victor Papanek: Design for the Real World (MIT Press, 2021).
‘Transnational School Construction’ FWF (Austrian Science Fund) 2020–2024 Principal Investigator, Dr. Maja Lorbek based in the department of Design History and Theory explores the transnational school construction. The research project explores the modus operandi of the UIA Commission on School Constructions as a collaborative process of knowledge generation, impacting school architecture and regulative frameworks in the national context of Austria, the German Democratic Republic and Slovenia (then part of Yugoslavia).
The FWF Elise Richter Post-Doctoral project, ‘Professionalisation and its Discontents: Design, 1930–1980’ is led by Senior Lecturer Leah Armstrong and examines the precarious position of design, a ‘new profession’ formed in the middle of the twentieth century, in the wider context of professionalisation.
PhD candidate Elif Süsler-Rohringer and her colleagues have been awarded a ÖAW DOC-Team Fellowship 2022–2025 for their research project ‘Stay and tell: memory objects and narratives of appropriation. Tracing social change in text, photographs and patterns within personal archives’.
Ufaq Inaam (Dr. Phil) joined the department in 2023 as a Postdoctoral Fellow and recipient of The Ernst Mach Grant, financed by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) and facilitated by OeAD, Austria. Her research project ‘Sustainable Futures through Design: Incorporating Inclusive Discourses in Industry & Academia’ explores existing design paradigms in industry and academia of the Global South.
Eva Gjessing, MA Architect, Ph.D. Fellow in Edu. Theory and Curriculum Studies, Material Culture
University of Aarhus, Arts.
School Design, Community and Care
The research project focus on welfare architecture and social sustainability. It shares light on how Danish School Design 2015-2020 materialize and produce new practices and everyday life in school. During the last decades the political purpose of school building in Denmark has changed from being an embracement of national pedagogical ideas to being the remedy of promoting a global vision of school. This vision is elaborated by pedagogical consultants in programs for future schools in Denmark relaunching the open-plan school from the 1970s though bigger in size and differently organized. The research applies critical theory to scrutinize the dialectics between school programs, didactical practices in school and the users experiences of community and care with the practices.
Heng Zhi, Mag.Des.Ind.
Design Curator, Vitra Design Museum
Redefining Design – Reflective Design Activities in Contemporary China
China’s creative energy seems driven by the inseparable forces of affluence and the desire for recognition; ever more accelerated mass production, high-speed construction of spectacular architecture on a huge scale and the speculation of artists in auctions and galleries. Diving underneath the widespread understanding of this creative process, this research explores the reflective design activities developing in the contemporary Chinese metropolis as an exploration of the process of (anti-)homogenization in a significant emerging culture.
Tabea Rude, MA
Curator/Conservator, Vienna Clock Museum, Vienna City Museums Group/WIENMUSEUM
Electrical Clock Design in early 20th century Austria: Technology, Craft, Dissolution and Globalisation
Horology and timekeeping played an increasingly important part in everyday life during the early 20th century, especially within the fields of transport and information and communications networks. The demand for ever more precise and synchronised time, the First World War, and the resulting dissolution of the multinational Austro-Hungarian state into independent states had major repercussions on the economy, industrialisation, globalisation and social developments. This research investigates the effects of these major changes on the clock- and watchmaking craft and, in particular, on the field of electrical clocks and synchronising systems and their designs.
Elif Süsler-Rohringer, MA MA
Cut, trace, design, repeat: People and Patterns in Flux 1970–2000
This research project focuses on the creative dimension of labor migration in the textile industries between Turkey, Germany and Austria, highlighting that cultural exchanges between these countries were not linear and one-sided, but entangled. It examines the creative adaptations of design in conjunction with migrants’ transnational fashion experiences from the tailors’ and dressmakers’ perspective. It aims to investigate these sartorial exchanges and transfers of knowledge, as well as gaps and disjunctures from the 1970s to the 2000s. To do that it deals with two kinds of mobilities creating intersections; displacement and globally circulating design models (i.e. commercial paper patterns for clothing). It traces both transfers and the lack thereof through a combination of an actor-centered approach with a socially embedded media analysis.
Ufaq Inaam, M.Phil, MFA (Graphic Design) Gold Medalist
Doctoral Scholarship – Higher Education Commission Pakistan
Lecturer (on leave), Design Department, College of Art & Design, Punjab University, Lahore, Pakistan
Informal Economies of Design: Material and Visual Culture of Traditional Medicine in Popular Urban Spaces of Lahore, Pakistan.
From the collage of ephemeral therapeutic posters to the electric visuals of traditional medicine, of Pakistan’s Lahore metropolis are filled with the exuberance of transient and informal graphic design.
This doctoral research project explores how a particular ubiquitous graphic identity is formed through the consumption of modern and traditional simultaneously and how religion is materialized in the commercial construction of objects. Founded on visual ethnography, which is instituted on biographies of advertising graphics in popular urban spaces and aesthetics of domestic spaces, this study reports the relativity of consuming the desired ‘modern-ness’ and how a specific class acts as an agency of consumption of a traditional kind of modernity. The research focuses on the exploration of overlooked economy of vernacular Pakistani design, in which creative culture is thriving and holds exceptional individuality.
Kathrina Dankl, Dr. phil. DI (FH)
Managing Director, Studio Dankl and Ass. Prof. Design School Kolding, Denmark
Very Experienced People: An Ethnography of Design, the Elderly and Style
External Examiner: Prof. Jeremy Myerson, Director Helen Hamlyn Centre RCA, UK
Elisabeth Petermann, Dr. phil.
Unravelling the Culture of Trend Forecasting: An ethnographic study of the legitimising, representing, mediating, and value-generating practices of the European trend industry
External Examiner: Prof. Joanne Entwistle, King’s College London, UK
Martina Grünewald, Dr. phil. BBA, MA
Promotio sub auspiciis, Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Applied Arts Vienna
Doing Design, Practising Thrift – Material Culture and the Social Construction of Value at Auctions in Vienna
External Examiner: Prof. Harvey Molotch, New York University, USA
Özlem Savas, MSc, PhD
Ass. Prof. Design and Communication, Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey
Taste Diaspora: The Aesthetic and Material Practice of Belonging
External Examiner: Prof. John Storey, University of Sunderland, UKDI
Sandra Dittenberger, Mag. Dr. phil.
Univ.-Prof. New Design University, St. Pölten
Lived Mobility – The Experience of Personal Mobility
External Examiner: Prof. Ina Wagner, Technical University Vienna
Anna Weiß, Mag. Dr. phil.
Univ.-Ass. Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna
Hyper-Domesticity: Gender and the Contemporary Interior
External Examiner: Edelbert Köb, Former Director MUMOK