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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.

Art defies Corona: Graduate Show 2020

With a two-month delay, the Graduate Show took place this year on the 19 and 20 September. More than 140 students showed their artistic graduation projects, from painting to sound installation.

Teaching Art Online at the HFBK

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

New articles at is the social network of the HFBK. It opens a digital forum for exchange and discussion in which students, teachers, guest authors, art critics and the interested public provide a wide range of content and perspectives.

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.

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?

Annual Exhibition 2020 at the HFBK

The HFBK’s traditional annual exhibition („Jahresausstellung“) opens in February every year. For three days the students – from first-years to post-graduates – present a broad spectrum of their current work and projects from all the different departments. All classrooms, studios and halls in the building are used. Interested visitors are cordially invited to gain an impression of the art currently being created at the HFBK.