Interface between research/science and the market
Product design mediates between people and things. New technologies, media, global networking and convergences lead to the fact that our field of work is in a state of permanent flux. Observing, collecting, recognizing, weighing, experimenting and the readiness to take independent points of view are the bases for our work. The way a product is used, the impression it makes and what it is associated with have at least the same significance as the product itself. The classic arena of drafting technical products, vehicles, furniture, exhibitions and room-related objects is shaped by extensive digitization. Process chains, which reach from draft to construction and from prototyping and production to distribution, are to be mastered. They are no longer conceivable without the support of digital media (CAD/CAM technologies).
Today, product designers have taken over an important interface function between research and science on the one hand and the market on the other. We play a considerable role in “representation”, “clarity” and “the making visible” of new technologies and research fields, by assuming responsibility for integrating the tasks of product development. The possibilities of working in the field of product design range from the status of being an independent designer to that of employment in a design agency or the design departments of larger industrial enterprises and, increasingly, on interdisciplinary research and development teams.
Trend-setting impulses for innovative training will develop within the area of “technical products and product systems”. These will have a new focus, which includes competence in technology, procedures and methods, as well as in the experimental handling of future technologies.
At the core of product design, next to conceptual ability, competence in handling the third dimension is vital. This is regardless of whether it concerns manual or virtual construction and generation of form. The change in the methods of development, construction, visualization, simulation, materialization and manufacturing leads to the fact that new technologies and media are integrated with one another again and again in projects and in the studies in general. In light of the fact that the development of specific knowledge and the generation of knowledge as such is at the heart of the HfG’s academic goals, in 2006, the position of Professor for “Visualization + Materialization” was once again filled. This position deals with experimental beginnings and methods of generating form, which use the possibilities of computer-controlled draft processes and digital production technologies beyond pure representation.
With the newly developed theoretical subject of “Culture and Technology History”, a new position has been created in the context of product design and in comparison with other institutions in Germany. The argument about fundamental technological processes of change and their consequent cultural ramifications during the transition from the 20th to the 21st century should embody and reflect new positions. Thus, questions of the emergence and the effects of socio-technical systems can be examined, which then can be reflected in design practice. With this contribution, the “theory of product language” is included as an essential part of the course of study and as a contribution to the international recognition of this specialized area’s heightened profile. In light of the global technological and social changes exhibited, we will steadily develop this further, and will form the conditions for a more holistic creative mindset, independent judgment and the necessary design and intellectual flexibility.
In addition, the overall professional field for product designers – as determined by technical, economic and social changes – has been reoriented to include new areas of work. In light of this, the discipline has developed from being one of classic product design to incorporate more high profile areas such as strategic design and integrated design, as well as the specialized field of information
With its artistic design contents, studies at the HfG now provide a specific and superior foundation for technical and methodological subjects. We are talking about a project study in which a differentiated topic area is formulated from one semester to the next in order to be able to illustrate different topics and positions. At periodic intervals, projects with external guests or partners from research and business are integrated into the project in order to energize the debate with the material tasks of design, independent of studies. Team ability and working in networks is also promoted, as well as a concentration on profiling individual capabilities. At the end of the course of studies and its modularly open course structure, the students finish with their thesis, which in its theoretical part shows their ability to reflect and argue, and in the practical part documents their own independent design positions with varying concentrations and approaches. A major goal of the course of studies is the development of a competence to position oneself within constantly changing professional fields and to support students in what we can probably do best: creating connections.
Prof. Peter Eckart
Dean of the Department Product Design