Dr. Felix Kosok

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    Collaboration between Felix Kosok and Ollanski

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Collaboration between Felix Kosok and Ollanski

Form, function and freedom. On the aesthetic-political dimension of design

(School of Art)

The relationship between design and democracy is not only a matter of the efficient, transparent or participatory structuring of political institutions and their processes. Rather, design must be defined in its interaction with a culture of freedom that is constitutive for democracy. Thus, a negotiation of the political dimension of design, which this work pursues, shifts to a fundamental level. Design, as design, has a political significance that cannot be separated from its aesthetic dimension. Design interprets a functional context, a function, which it concretizes in form - but it does so in a way that keeps the special nature of the respective interpretation present. In a freedom for the function, design in its concrete form therefore always implicitly refers to a fundamental designability of all things. If one understands design in this context as a reinterpretation that can only ever be found in the mediation of form and function, this potential capacity of design to shape extends to precisely those social purposes that in their conventional form appear to us as second nature and as unchangeable. At this stage, the question of good design that keeps this designability present returns in an anti-essentialist way.

As a reaction to the loss of the contestability of decisions on the one hand, and the loss of the significance of differences on the other, design establishes its own kind of criticism as part of a dispute about the design of our living environment and in this necessarily remains related to a public, debating culture of design criticism. In its efforts to realize good things, design is at the same time aiming at keeping its own contentiousness as design conscious. To maintain this controversy about good design is the task of a critical theory of design to which this examination makes a contribution. 


  • Prof. Dr. Juliane Rebentisch
  • Prof. Klaus Hesse