de en


Research and teaching in the design department address shifts and instabilities in the social structure of commodities, information and power. The course introduces, in both practical and theoretical terms, aesthetic concepts and media forms that acquire significance within social processes, and aims to create contributions to other possible life-worlds in this way.

To this end, the course opens up experimental spaces in which design exposes itself to experiences, disciplines and processes that are different from its own by means of conceptual analyses and material testing. In this respect it relates to artistic questioning, without abandoning the horizon of practical contact with socially functioning objects, life-world sign structures and processes.

Design in the Bachelor study programme

The field of design is constantly changing. It is distinguished by its diversity, and it continues to expand. Accordingly, the »Design« department offers students the opportunity to explore the various processes of design in an open and experimental way. This is intended to enable students to pose new questions about the subject and to solve overarching artistic and technical problems of art production.

This department aims to introduce students to the disciplines surrounding design, to support students in their individual artistic development and in defining a professional purpose for themselves, and to help them to become responsible creative individuals. At the centre of the study programme are the individual student’s intentions for theoretical and/or practical work. During the course of students’ chosen studies the development of these plans will be supervised in the different studios on an individual basis by tutors, with reference to product design, technical design and mediatecture. They will also be supported by theoretical and subject-based tuition. Learning about creative and technical possibilities for carrying out artistic ideas will mainly take place in the workshops for forming in plaster, glass, wood, ceramics, artificial materials, metalwork and fine metalwork.

As well as the realization of artistic work, the course also deals with presenting and mediating art in the context of the various institutional and social fields available within the art business system. As well as gallery visits and annual exhibitions, the university´s own gallery also offers an opportunity to explore and discuss matters relating to presenting pictures and to their reception.

Through the combination of creative, scientific and technical tuition, students will be enabled to gain creative artistic, scientific and art-theory-related, technical and practical skills. The aim is to be able to pose new questions and to solve overarching artistic and technical problems relating to design.

Design in the Master study programme

The aim of study in the department »Design« is a well-founded design-orientated research, development and design praxis which emphasises artistic, experimental and innovative processes alongside known and established techniques of design. Building consecutively on the Bachelor study programme, the Master study programme is structured around students’ independent artistic research projects with the aim of promoting further development and specialising of a personal design profile and discovering and establishing significant unique selling points for the future designers.

The Master study programme is characterised by the individual development of ways of posing questions and approaching problems as well as the undertaking of complex projects and plans for artistic work. All departments of the University of Fine Arts will be at students’ disposal, enabling an interdisciplinary context for study which goes far beyond the usual generally available content of a course of study in design. The Master study programme offers students a platform for extending their individual artistic ideas and abilities and expanding their ability to critically analyse theoretical and practical questions involving art and design throughout history and in the present day. Students should be able to expand their technical, design-specific, aesthetic and theoretical knowledge and learn to carry out artistic research projects largely under their own guidance.

Students’ individual positions as designers will be strengthened by the interplay between practical and conceptual work. The core area of the study programme is the praxis of design, comprising conception, drafting and realisation. Parallel to this, the sophisticated equipment of the HFBK’s workshops offers an excellent infrastructure for experimental research of forms and materials. Engagement with cultural sciences, design theory and design history enables postgraduates to find their own position not only in the existing creative working areas associated with design, but also in more forward-looking, innovative branches and occupational areas. Guest lectures, collaborations and excursions, planned so as to be relevant to present studies, provide further supplementary impetus for study. Aside from the annual exhibition, a presentation by students of their own research projects to a University audience at the end of each semester offers the opportunity to, for instance, discuss questions of project presentation and reception.

Annette Wehrmann, photography from the series Blumensprengungen, 1991-95; photo: Ort des Gegen e.V.

Conference: Counter-Monuments and Para-Monuments.

The international conference at HFBK Hamburg on December 2-4, 2021 – jointly conceived by Nora Sternfeld and Michaela Melián –, is dedicated to the history of artistic counter-monuments and forms of protest, discusses aesthetics of memory and historical manifestations in public space, and asks about para-monuments for the present.

23 Fragen des Institutional Questionaire, grafisch umgesetzt von Ran Altamirano auf den Türgläsern der HFBK Hamburg zur Jahresausstellung 2021; photo: Charlotte Spiegelfeld


Who speaks? Who paints which motif? Who is shown, who is not? Questions of identity politics play an important role in art and thus also at the HFBK Hamburg. In the current issue, the university's own Lerchenfeld magazine highlights university structures as well as student initiatives that deal with diversity and identity.

Grafik: Tim Ballaschke

Start of semester

After three semesters of hybrid teaching under pandemic conditions, we are finally about to start another semester of presence. We welcome all new students and teachers at the HFBK Hamburg and cordially invite you to the opening of the academic year 2020/21, which this year will be accompanied by a guest lecture by ruangrupa.

Graphic design: Sam Kim, picture in the background: Sofia Mascate, photo: Marie-Theres Böhmker

Graduate Show 2021: All Good Things Come to an End

From September 24 to 26, the more than 150 Bachelor's and Master's graduates of the class of 2020/21 will present their final projects as part of the Graduate Show at the HFBK Hamburg. We would like to thank all visitors and participants.

photo: Klaus Frahm

Summer Break

The HFBK Hamburg is in the lecture-free period, many students and teachers are on summer vacation, art institutions have summer break. This is a good opportunity to read and see a variety of things:

ASA Open Studio 2019, Karolinenstraße 2a, Haus 5; photo: Matthew Muir

Live und in Farbe: die ASA Open Studios im Juni 2021

Since 2010, the HFBK has organised the international exchange programme Art School Alliance. It enables HFBK students to spend a semester abroad at renowned partner universities and, vice versa, invites international art students to the HFBK. At the end of their stay in Hamburg, the students exhibit their work in the Open Studios in Karolinenstraße, which are now open again to the art-interested public.

Studiengruppe Prof. Dr. Anja Steidinger, Was animiert uns?, 2021, Mediathek der HFBK Hamburg, Filmstill

Unlearning: Wartenau Assemblies

The art education professors Nora Sternfeld and Anja Steidinger initiated the format "Wartenau Assemblies". It oscillates between art, education, research and activism. Complementing this open space for action, there is now a dedicated website that accompanies the discourses, conversations and events.

Ausstellungsansicht "Schule der Folgenlosigkeit. Übungen für ein anderes Leben" im Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg; photo: Maximilian Schwarzmann

School of No Consequences

Everyone is talking about consequences: The consequences of climate change, the Corona pandemic or digitalization. Friedrich von Borries (professor of design theory), on the other hand, is dedicated to consequence-free design. In “School of No Consequences. Exercises for a New Life” at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, he links collection objects with a "self-learning room" set up especially for the exhibition in such a way that a new perspective on "sustainability" emerges and supposedly universally valid ideas of a "proper life" are questioned.

Annual Exhibition 2021 at the HFBK

Annual exhibition a bit different: From February 12- 14, 2021 students at the Hamburg University of Fine Arts, together with their professors, had developed a variety of presentations on different communication channels. The formats ranged from streamed live performances to video programs, radio broadcasts, a telephone hotline, online conferences, and a web store for editions. In addition, isolated interventions could be discovered in the outdoor space of the HFBK and in the city.

Public Information Day 2021

How do I become an art student? How does the application process work? Can I also study to become a teacher at the HFBK? These and other questions about studying art were answered by professors, students and staff at the HFBK during the Public Information Day on February 13, 2021. In addition, there will be an appointment specifically for English-speaking prospective students on February 23 at 2 pm.

Katja Pilipenko

Semestereröffnung und Hiscox-Preisverleihung 2020

On the evening of November 4, the HFBK celebrated the opening of the academic year 2020/21 as well as the awarding of the Hiscox Art Prize in a livestream - offline with enough distance and yet together online.

Exhibition Transparencies with works by Elena Crijnen, Annika Faescke, Svenja Frank, Francis Kussatz, Anne Meerpohl, Elisa Nessler, Julia Nordholz, Florentine Pahl, Cristina Rüesch, Janka Schubert, Wiebke Schwarzhans, Rosa Thiemer, Lea van Hall. Organized by Prof. Verena Issel and Fabian Hesse; photo: Screenshot

Teaching Art Online at the HFBK

How the university brings together its artistic interdisciplinary study structure with digital formats and their possibilities.

Alltagsrealität oder Klischee?; photo: Tim Albrecht

HFBK Graduate Survey

Studying art - and what comes next? The clichéd images stand their ground: Those who have studied art either become taxi drivers, work in a bar or marry rich. But only very few people could really live from art – especially in times of global crises. The HFBK Hamburg wanted to know more about this and commissioned the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences at the University of Hamburg to conduct a broad-based survey of its graduates from the last 15 years.

Ausstellung Social Design, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, Teilansicht; photo: MKG Hamburg

How political is Social Design?

Social Design, as its own claim is often formulated, wants to address social grievances and ideally change them. Therefore, it sees itself as critical of society – and at the same time optimizes the existing. So what is the political dimension of Social Design – is it a motor for change or does it contribute to stabilizing and normalizing existing injustices?