It is arguably just us, but we firmly believe that there are ever more design students studying ever more design degrees in ever more design schools, which (potentially) means ever more designers. In itself no bad thing: assuming that is that what they learn is relevant for the ever evolving nature of not only the design profession, but the society they will/should serve.
To better gauge the current situation of design education in Europe we embarked in 2017 on our #campustour, an ongoing exercise which involves not only visiting design schools but for all speaking to some of those responsible for teaching the coming generation of designers.
Among them Professor Florian Petri from the Department of Design at the Hochschule für angewandte Wissenschaften München.
The Ecole Cantonale d’art de Lausanne, ECAL, isn’t actually in Lausanne, but the community of Renens on the western edge of Lausanne.
Édith Piaf famously opined that, je ne regrette rien, but how many of this year ECAL graduates would be singing, je regrette Renens?
Or perhaps better put, how many of this year’s graduates would Renens regrette?
To gauge the mood, we anchored on the shores of Lac Léman to visit the 2017 ECAL Graduation Show………
Just as the Eamsien adage proclaims that “the details are not the details; they make the product”, so too are a design school’s teaching staff not the teaching staff, they make the school.
Consequently, it follows that to better understand not only an individual institution, but also both the wider contemporary condition, and possible future directions, of design education, it is important to talk to, and understand, design school teaching staff; both those full-time Professors, and also those practising designers who have accepted the responsibility of instructing future generations.
Practising designers such as Patrick Frey, Assistant Professor at the Hochschule Hannover.
Whereas most design schools stage their annual exhibition at the end of the summer semester, there are exceptions, such as the Folkwang Universität der Künste, Essen, who present theirs just before the start of the winter semester.
And so nigh on three months after all others have ended.
Because, one wonders, they fear its brilliant glow would place all other schools in its shade, and they want to remain fair to their colleagues elsewhere? Because they have something to hide, and hope by waiting till October no one will visit?
Our #campustour may have long since been parked up for 2017, but keen to learn more we cranked it up and set course for Germany’s Ruhrgebiet…….
On our recent #campustour we didn’t only view the students’ works, and chat to students about their works, we also spoke to members of the design schools’ teaching staff about their motivations, methods, experiences and views on contemporary design eduction.
Ultimately if you want to understand contemporary design education, you have to understand contemporary design educators.
Whereby one of the peculiarities of design eduction is that any given school’s staff is a mix of full time staff members and practising designers who teach selected courses, or in the case of designer Peter Marigold a whole Studio, the central teaching concept at the Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design, or the Cass London as it more familiarly known.
Much like the aardvark, or Alvar Aalto, Aachen is always likely to find itself at the top of any alphabetical list.
But aside from such orthographic deceit, would the FH Aachen be at the top of our #campustour list…….?
Although Bauhaus originally opened in Weimar, the Bauhaus most people understand as Bauhaus is Bauhaus Dessau.
But can the students of the Bauhaus University Weimar reclaim “Bauhaus” for Weimar?
The Bauhaus University Weimar’s annual Summaery exhibition offered a chance to learn more…..
According to the Chinese philosopher Laozi “a journey of 1,000 li begins with a single step”.
For a journey of 20,000 li that step is onto a bus to Malmö…. and is followed by a succession of trains, boats, planes and trams. If sadly not Laozi’s preferred mode of transport, the water buffalo.
While there are still a few #campustour posts to come, for now the rucksacks have been hung up, the red travellin’ socks are, finally, in the wash and we can start to try to take stock….
Without wanting to in any way detract from the work undertaken by Kunsthochschule Berlin Weissensee students in the past year, a highlight of our visit to the 2017 Rundgang summer exhibition was the thunderstorm which broke while we there. Calling it biblical would be to trivialise the ferocity with which it smit the day asunder, turning in its fury the Bühringstraße in front of the school into a Bühring Straits. And the first of three storms which broke over Berlin in quick succession, almost sinking the German capital.
Magnificent, imposing and a joy to behold. But would the 2017 Rundgang also make such a positive and lasting impression……..?
Visiting the 2017 end of year Werkschau exhibition at the Peter Behrens School of Arts, Düsseldorf we were greatly reminded of the school’s eponym’s own time in Düsseldorf.
If not for the reasons one might assume…….
In 2018 the Hochschule München Design Department will move a few hundred metres round the corner from its current home, a home it has occupied for over forty years, to a new purpose built facility opposite the main college building; consequently, the 2017 Jahresausstellung was one of the last chances to experience the Design Department in its original location.
But was it a presentation worthy of the moment, a fitting au revoir to an old friend……….?
Established in 1992 the Hochschule für Gestaltung Karlsruhe was conceived from the off as a design school for coming realities, for a world we don’t yet know.
But is that a world of smart, autonomous apps? A world of intelligent and considered applications of evolving technology? Of the craft of yore? The 2017 Rundgang durch die Lichthöfe summer exhibition was a chance to glean some clues……
While it’s certainly true that without having been introduced to the work of Akademie für Gestaltung der Handwerkskammer Münster alumni Florian Kallus and Sebastian Schneider a.k.a design studio kaschkasch, we probably wouldn’t pay that much attention to the Akademie, that introduction was pre-kaschkasch: a project from Florian at DMY Berlin 2010 and one from Sebastian at IMM Cologne 2011. And yes we are blowing ever so gently on our own trumpet. If at the same time terrifying ourselves by the thought of just how long we’ve locked in this death spiral.
But being aware of the Akademie für Gestaltung der Handwerkskammer Münster, our 2017 #campustour couldn’t not visit their Finale graduation exhibition….
Owing to the unique nature of Berlin’s history and geopolitical relevance, the (hi)stories of all the city’s cultural institutions are invariably complex. And the number of such institutions greater than in most comparable metropoli*. Few other cities can boast, for example, two public zoos, three public operas or four public universities. And while three of Berlin’s universities offer individual courses in subjects such as architecture, theatre studies or music, there is only one which offers an education in all such genres. And in design: The Universität der Künste Berlin.
The Hochschule Wismar is an institution we have wanted to visit for a long time; and no, not just because it means a trip to the Baltic Coast and the historic Hanseatic port, but much more for despite being in no respect the largest design school in Germany, it is one of the most present: from Milan to Berlin to Cologne hardly a design week passes without Wismar.
And so we wanted to understand the school a little better. Which is of course one of the stated aims of our 2017 #campustour, developing a better understanding of contemporary design education and those schools responsible.
The thought of a Sunday afternoon on the Baltic Coast admittedly didn’t make the decision any harder…..
As an institution London’s Royal Albert Hall teaches us that regardless how illustrious and prestigious your history may be, you can never rest on your laurels, you are only ever as relevant and interesting as your next programme, as your next soloist..
With the 2017 Graduate Show the Royal Albert Hall’s next door neighbour, the equally illustrious and prestigious, Royal College of Art unveiled its 2017 programme and 2017 soloists.
But would there be a standing ovation…
Although older than Bauhaus Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle has arguably never achieved the same popular acclaim as its fêted near neighbour.
Is however still in existence, and thus need not live on its laurels, but rather can continually develop its legacy through the efforts and ideas of its staff and students.
The 2017 annual summer exhibition provided insights into the contribution made, and being made, by the current crop……..
Somewhat disappointingly the authorities in the southern German town of Schwäbisch Gmünd have succumbed to the current unicorn lunacy and placed one in the town’s coat of arms.
But could the design students at the Hochschule für Gestaltung Schwäbisch Gmünd be relied upon to resist such short term fads?
The 2017 Rundgang summer exhibition provided the answers…….
The donkey, dog, cat and cockerel featured in the Brothers Grimm’s retelling of the traditional folktale Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten never made to it to Bremen, never worked as musicians, and thus never enriched the cultural heritage of the Hansa port.
But would any of the Hochschule für Künste Bremen’s 2017 Integrated Design graduates augment the city’s long history?
Would any rise to the post of Bremer Stadtkreativen……?
Sited in the gentile calm of Pimlico, Chelsea College of Arts sits between the independent free-thinking of the Tate Britain, the original Tate with its collection of British and international art from 1500 until today, and the state control and surveillance of the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, in their unobtrusive bunker on the opposite bank of the Thames
But where would the conformity/rebellion equilibrium be found amongst the current crop of Chelsea students…….
The 18th century forebearer of the Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart was established as a location “where the youth can be cultivated, likes plants in a nursery”
While nurseries can produce strong and noble trees, flowers with the most exquisite blossoms and hardy perennials that keep on contributing to their environment, they are also often home to unstable experimental hybrids and provide the perfect breeding ground for parasites and disease.
How well the current Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart nursery is being maintained could be assessed at the 2017 Rundgang summer exhibition……
Once upon a time there lived in Cassel two brothers by the name of Grimm. Legend has it that one day Jacob and Wilhelm, for that was their names, travelled to Marburg to become wealthy lawyers; however, instead of learning the basics of Roman law, jurisprudence and how to write huge invoices, they spent their days with the witches, kings, queens and elves of northern European folktales.
The people of Cassel were angry when the heard of the brothers’ activities, and a large crowd gathered to meet them on your return.
“Why do you waste your days with this romantic nonsense?”, they demand, for they were very aware of the cultural context of the period.
“It’s not romantic nonsense”, the brothers protested, “rather these stories contain the wisdom of previous generations, wisdom our current age has forgotten, yet which could help us not only better understand our current age, but also help us prepare for future ages.”
And then a wolf ate them.
Romantic dreamings? Contemporary reinterpretations of tradition? Or just autonomous vehicles and Apps that tell when you’ve had too much to drink or help you identify wicked stepmothers from their social media activity, what future folklore would the 2017 Kunsthochschule Kassel Rundgang present……
In addition to visiting design schools and viewing the students works we also want to use our 2017 #campustour to gather impression on contemporary European design education from those directly involved, on both the student and the teaching sides.
If, as we are so fond of repeating, the works the students produce are secondary to how they got there, not only are the views of those people who help them get there important, but also how the students experienced the trip.
We can’t speak with everyone, it would arguably be dull if we did, but we do hope to bring a mix of differing and interesting voices, starting with Peter Barker, Head of Industrial Design and Director of Education, at Design School Kolding.
Jokes about revolting students are as old as the noble art of the student protest itself.
And neither has lost any of their charm.
The 2017 Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig Rundgang was held against the backdrop of a student protest over new regulations concerning, amongst other aspects, how and when the school buildings and workshops could be used.
But would there also be protest from our side over the way the students had used the buildings and workshops……..?
The Cass is situated in London’s Whitechapel, not far from the East London Mosque and in an area long a centre of London’s Muslim community. The day we visited the Cass Summer Show it was Eid al-Fitr, a festival of family, feasts and finery. The narrow streets of Whitechapel awash with smartly attired, good humoured locals, or possibly just smartly attired locals high on sugar, for Eid al-Fitr is also a festival of sweetness at the end of Ramadan.
Cakes and sweets as far as the eye could see. And far, far beyond.
But would we find any bonbons in the Cass Summer Show…….