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My teaching

What you will find here:

Take a look at the following topics:

  • Semester projects I have supervised | Semester-Homepages
  • Theses I have supervised

  • My didactic concept of teaching | Thoughts and texts about my teaching

  • Workshops | that I have supervised
  • Realised Students’ projects | that I have supervised
  • Prizes & awards of students | that I have supervised

Supervised Semester Projects | Semester Homepages:

Unter diesem Menüpunkt finden Sie in chronologischer Ordung die Themenstellung aller Semesterprojekte, die ich als Projektleiter in den letzten Jahren betreut habe. Jedes Semester hat seine eigene Homepage, auf der Sie sich dann detailliert über die Arbeiten jedes einzelnen Studierenden informieren können. Jeder Studierende hat hier seine eigene „Portfolio Gallery“, über die Sie den Studierenden auch direkt kontaktieren können.

Die Archivierung der Semester-Homepages sind erst seit dem Wintersemester 08/09 vollständig.

Supervised theses:

Under this menu item you will find, in chronological order, a selection of theses that I conducted at the Free University of Bolzano as a main supervisor. Every student working on his or her thesis has their own „Portfolio Gallery“ which gives detailed information on the thesis as well as on how to get in touch with the designer.

Workshops | Realised Projects | Prizes & Awards:

Under the menu items listed above you can find out about further results of my teaching occupation.

My didactic concept:

Under this menu item I talk about my teaching concept within the special area of the Faculty of Design and Art at the Free University of Bolzano, at which I have been a regular professor since October 2005.

The „Thoughts of Teaching“presented here form the theoretical fundament which my occupation as a teacher is based on.

To those who are not only interested in the results of my teaching (the students‘ Portfolio Gallery) but want to gain insight in my way of proceeding and contents and would like to find out how my occupation as a teacher, a designer and a researcher are connected, you will find all the information on that here.


Is design teachable?

Visual design is a communicative practise and not science in the traditional sense of natural science or humanities.

There is a „designerly way“ of science and also a „designerly way“ of communicating knowledge and theory. This especially concerns the teaching of design subjects. Communication design is more about the question of how a communication process can be generated, rather than forms, colours or aesthetics.

A designer uses scientific methods, discoveries and practises. Nevertheless experiences, intuition and emotions are a far more important part of the creative process than classical science.

Design depends on the context

Design always depends on the context- social, geographical and time. So design cannot make a claim for universal validity and can only partly be managed by the traditional methods of the sciences of natural sciences.

Design is also always subjective and never absolute. If design was absolute it would be possible to „program“ visual design and generate success infinitely or randomly. The result of a programmed design would have to function securely and guarantee a successful communication. This does not work in the design practise.

Design is teachable

Design is teachable, as my teaching as a designer is inseparable from my research activities as a designer. For me teaching is research, namely „research through design“. My teaching activities with the students are focused on generating knowledge by „researching on the basis of the design“. I teach and research „through design“ and not „by design“. I especially see my project work with the students as a kind of mutual „journey“ within a research team, in which students as well as teachers develop the project, new realizations and new knowledge together. Within the project answers to questions, which have not yet been asked, have to be found. It is about the „questioning“ and the „calling into question“. In this sense the students‘works are full works of research.

I believe that every person is a designer. With this, however, I do not mean that every piece of creative work is design but that everybody has the creative potential of being a designer. Design is a fundamental human ability like breathing, one does not have to learn, it is just there. Nevertheless you can teach and learning to breath and to design in a better way, with more awareness, with more control, more creatively and more efficiently.


Short term projects: Making communication comprehensible

As a teacher I see it as my task to sensitize the students’ visual perception and simultaneously reflect on their creative work in a theoretical manner. The students should learn to make (for themselves as also for others) visual perception and communication explicable, understandable and comprehensible. The students should learn how to generate a communication process and sustain it. The results and experiments of the short term projects are based on scientific realizations which are of upmost importance for visual communication (theory of design, expectancy, structure and empathy), and on century-old creative and artistic practices.

Short term projects: Learning how to differentiate perception

My approach to teaching is not necessarily application-oriented and market-oriented but nevertheless I set value on preparing the students for their future professional field of activity. The focuses of my lessons are on exercises, visual experiments and projects which lead to a differentiated perception and also stimulate theoretical reflection and discussions. With these exercises I try to guide the students to new forms of expressions. I believe that when new forms of expressions are created the unaware ability to feel emotions develops. This enables us to purposely integrate these in a design process. At the same time the creative discussion together with aesthetic rules of classic creative and artistic practises, supports critical thinking and sensitizes the perception of one’s own creative actions. On the contrary, by including scientific realizations and methods in the lessons, visual perception and communication is self-explanatory, comprehensible, verbally descriptive and understandable.


Aims of my lessons

  • The communication of creative principles and procedures which are based upon the expertise of design, art and science, as well as the ability of using this knowledge for one’s own design work.
  • The development of creative capability within visual design.
  • The sensitization of visual, haptic and emotional perception.
  • The training of the ability to reflect on personal and individual perception, the guidance to objectivism and how to distance oneself from one’s own subjective perception.
  • The support of connectional thinking as well as the intentional incorporation of unusual ways of thinking and perceiving during the examination of creative problems and assignment of tasks.
  • The guidance to team work and social skills.
  • Ability to judge individual and aesthetic experiences in relation to culture, art and science.
  • The ability of consistently learning and relearning, of upholding curiosity and continuing to have fun with design.


The Bozen-model and my lessons

The trilingual, interdisciplinary 3-year bachelor course (BA) does not divide product design from visual communication.

The students are trained in designing interdisciplinary and trans disciplinary. The students attain competency in product design as well as visual communication. So the Bozen-model of teaching design does not follow the trend of separating the different types of creative training.

Every student on Bozen’s BA course has to complete the following in six semesters:
  • 2 semesters of visual communication (VC)
  • 2 semesters of product design (PD)
  • 1 introduction semester („Warm-up“), which consists of two each of the workshops VC, PD and theory.
  • 1 diploma semester in which students finish their BA course with a thesis.

The Bozen-model and its distinctiveness:

The Bozen-model has some distinctive features in comparison to other design schools. The following features are of relevance to the structure of my lessons:
  • There is no „separate “foundation course. Foundations are taught within the projects.
  • As the students only take two semesters of VC in my lessons I have students who only have one semesters worth of experience in visual communication or may have no experience at all.
  • The students are able to choose at what time during their studies they chose to take a product or visual communication course so that I have students from all three study years. A result of this is that students differ due to different levels of design maturity. There is a fast transfer of knowledge between the different years and the younger students benefit learning from the older students which encourages and strengthens teamwork.
  • Bozen’s design course is trilingual (Italian, German and English). The students have diverse language and cultural backgrounds, primarily from Italian and German speaking areas but we also have international students. Both the students and I use all three languages for communicating on a daily basis.
  • The students mixed backgrounds also affects the manner in which classes are conducted. The Italian and the German students often have a different communication culture. Moreover, both nationalities have a different (historical) understanding of design. Based on my experience I believe that the Italian understanding of design is more humanistic whereas the German understanding tends to be more pragmatic.
  • Some students have a tendency to product design; they respectively have a creative and experimental curiosity for three-dimensional, material-based, haptic design. This group of students tend to influence their VC projects by these notions and their knowledge which can lead to hybrid forms of communication.


Structure of my classes

My semester classes are divided into two didactic phases:
  • Short term project phase (approx. 7 weeks)
  • Main project phase (approx. 9 weeks)

Short term project phase| Learning target and methodology

During the short term project phases I primarily try to teach the fundamentals of visual communication. The project phase consists of different, tasks and exercises on a weekly basis. With these I set great value on students presenting their short term project (“One-week-project”) in front of the group.

Following the presentation every design will be talked about in detail with the group. It is not about learning to „present“ but being able to „defend“ one’s work and convincing fellow students that the idea, concept and form are coherent.

For me the short term project phase is about the discourse of design and perception and about the analytical reflection of images. Within the group discussions the students should train their objectives and distance their own subjective perception.

What I do within the short term project phase I describe as „visual contextualization“. Here it is practised again and again to „read“ images, to „write“ images and to understand images in „context“. I am afraid that this „visual alphabetization“ is most important for teaching of fundamentals as most students lack these abilities. The students should not be reproached for this as in my opinion this deficit is the fault of the schooling system. In school reading and writing is practised intensively from an early age but visual, graphic and artistic techniques are hardly dealt with.

So from where should the students have “learnt” their artistic ability? Seeing is generally seen as natural although it is not! The result is that most first-year students are visual autodidacts. This is a serious matter as our lives are dominated by designed images and visual impressions. For this reason a fundamental training in university has to be a “school of seeing and perception” to ensure further training for visual abilities.

The main project phase | Learning target and methodology

In contrast to the short term project phase („one-week-project“) the main project phase consists of just one project. The students have about 9 weeks for their main project in which the semester topic I have chosen should be worked on more intensively. Primarily this phase is about leading the students to an individual perception by means of the set assignment. This automatically supports creative capability and the ability of visual design.

Conceptual thinking, as well as purposely including problematic ways of thinking and seeing is extremely important for the assessment of design problems. The constant sensitization of visual, emotional and haptic perception is indispensible. These design orientated and conceptual abilities are both equally supported and trained. The students should use these particularly for their main project.

At the end of the main project phase the students should be able to use their individual and aesthetic ability of judgement in relation to:
  • Economics
  • Their own artistic work and designs
  • The culture in which we live

At the end of the day students should learn how to consistently learn and relearn, how to upholding curiosity and never to stop having fun with design during the main project phase!


Foundation classes during the project studies

I like to define dealing with the fundamental elements of visual depictions (point, line, shape, proportion, contrast, rhythm, depth, light, shadow, volume, brightness, movement and typography) as using a “meta-language”.

This meta-language will only gradually become intelligible for students by experience and concentrated practise. During the short term projects (“one-week-projects”) the students have to intensively deal with this language.

The meta-language is important for training the perception and the ability of expressing oneself visually. It is an aesthetic education which concentrates on the emotional, the expressive and the sensual experience of design. It is a school of seeing and perceiving combined with exercising experimental and creative design. The total command of these visual languages only fully develops in the later design practise in employment. Here the meta-language is important for creating a base for design decision-making. In the practise of design this visual language is put in context. The experimental use of meta-language is therefore the fundament for educating creative individuality and educating one’s own design personality.