March 8, 2022

MA Experimental Design

Basel Academy of Art and Design

Photo: Susanna Hertrich.*

Photos: Susanna Hertrich.*

Photo: Samuel Hanselmann.*

Photo: Samuel Hanselmann.*

Photo: Tom Nieke.*


What does it mean to design in times of melting glaciers and computing clouds? Global logistics and pandemic statistics, democratic elections and resource extraction, gender norms and gig worker platforms—our world is organized by standards and processes that are designed, engineered, and often faulty. Technology is projected as an easy fix for today’s global challenges—but what if our established practices and operations are at the heart of the problems we’re facing?

The Institute of Experimental Design and Media Cultures (IXDM) is dedicated to studying designs of the present and experimenting with alternatives to the systems that govern our lives. It is our goal to modify, hack, manipulate, recode or rewrite the processes that have come to determine how we live together. We critically think through and aim for response-able, equitable, sustainable, and care-ful practices that are based upon collective study and research.

In our new MA Experimental Design, led by Susanna Hertrich, we critically examine contemporary ways of living and translate a norm-critical and post-anthropocentric stance into an experimental design practice.

We offer our students a unique pedagogical model that combines workshops, and individual studio practice with interdisciplinary, collective projects and self-organized peer-learning. Your personal tutors assist you in designing your individual curriculum and support you in developing research-driven, experimental design practices.

We welcome applicants with undergraduate degrees in design and the arts as well as graduates from other disciplines who are interested in applying their knowledge within practice-based design projects. Join us if you are interested in developing exemplary scenarios, speculative models, and radical proposals for societies and worlds in transition.

Apply until May 15, 2022. The MA program officially starts in September 2022. Find more information about our new MA Experimental Design and the admission process online.

For further information and questions about the program, do not hesitate to get in touch with: susanna.hertrich [​at​] / T +41 61 228 40 66.

The MA program is closely integrated with the Critical Media Lab and HyperWerk, the BA Process Design and the PhD program Make/Sense:

The Critical Media Lab is a community, a space and a platform for research and practice at the intersections of design, media, art and technology. We combine perspectives and methods of anthropology, sociology, media studies, cultural studies and political science with practice-led research to study and experimentally intervene in the social, political, economic, and environmental systems that regulate how we live together.

The LAB HyperWerk is focused on the question "How can we live together?" and aims at elaborating on how the “we” can become more inclusive and diverse in a post-industrial society. The idea of co-living sits at the heart of our projects and discussions. If everything is designed, can design be the key for change? In relation to this, «making kin» should be actively questioned, cared for, nourished and shaped.

In the BA Process Design, led by Matthias Böttger, students develop the ability to shape processes for social transformation and sustainable modes of living. Students take a high degree of personal responsibility, are not afraid of creative freedom and working in teams. The course concerns range from inclusion, representation, language and communication to urban development, sustainability, climate and growth, robotics, digital culture, cyberfeminism and artificial intelligence.

The Make/Sense PhD program, headed by Selena Savić, promotes practice-based research in art and design. Operating within three future-facing areas of concern: Planetarity, Materiality and Response-ability, the PhD candidates focus on the relevance and potentials of practice-based research for sociocultural, political, and ecological transformations.

Matthias Böttger, Head of Institute Experimental Design and Media Cultures, HGK FHNW.

*Images above: (1–2) MA Experimental Design, presentation of semester projects, Interspecies Design, 2022. (3) Critical Media Lab, Community in Progress event, 2015. (4) Decolonizing Design Workshop at Swiss Design Network conference – Beyond Change, 2018. (5) BA Students during a workshop at HyperWerk with guest lecturers, 2020.

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