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Research Project

Research Project

The Visibility of the Ulm School of Design: From Ulm to Montréal

Matters of design are about central issues of society – that is the research project’s basic assumption. Therefore, Design is understood as an inverse technique instead of only defining it as formgiving practice: it tells us something about ‘us’ as acting subjects. In recent years, humanities and social sciences significantly increased their work on these relations. The so-called ulm model can be seen as forerunner of these thoughts, having been developed at the former Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm (HfG), i.e. the Ulm School of Design.

The school’s self-conception is asking a wide range of questions about strategies and functions of designing. This is documented in four exhibitions between 1955 and 1967. They attracted regional, national, and international attention, including a presention on the world fair in Montréal. The HfG-Archive preserves this uncharted material consisting of affiliated documents but also the original exhibition-panels from 1958. Finally, the objective of the project is to gain insights about the history of design and its mediation in post-war modernism by winnowing, documenting, and analyzing this abundant material.
The mutual proposal was filed by the HfG-Archiv Ulm, the Hochschule Pforzheim, School of Design and the Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen. Being one out of nine, the venture is funded by the VolkswagenStiftung initiative „Forschung in Museen“. The project is directed by Prof. Dr. Thomas Hensel (Pforzheim), Prof. Dr. Steffen Siegel (Essen) and Dr. Martin Mäntele (Ulm). Principal goals of the project are two dissertations, related workshops, an international conference, publications, and an exhibition during the total term of four years. Eventually, a digital database will make the results accessible to the public.

funded by

Logo Volkswagen Stiftung

Desiger in Residence

For the second time this year the HfG-Archive had announced the scholarship “Designer in Residence”: three months of living and working on the campus of the former Hochschule für Gestaltung and in the HfG-Archive.

With the program “Designer in Residence” the HfG-Archive wants to bridge the gap between the historical School of Design and current viewpoints of design. Based on the HfG’s thoughts on how the design process could be systematized and scientifically accompanied, this year’s scholarship holder Simon Hettler from Munich has dealt with this topic over 50 years after the closure of the Ulm School of Design.

Simon Hettler, “AI aided Design – Artificial Intelligence aided Design”, 2020

Within the framework of the project “AI aided Design – Artificial Intelligence aided Design” – he was looking for possibilities and limits to support designers in the design process through artificial intelligence. See and hear more about this.

Simon Hettler studied product design and strategic design at the HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd. In his studies he dealt with questions of sustainability and the justifiability of design in non-scientific contexts. His work is located at the interface between design, strateg

Oelivia Daigenault Deschêns, “Show me how you eat and I’ll tell you who you are”, 2018.



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