The subject area is dedicated to teaching and researching the theories and practice of (applied) design. The thematic focus can be further elaborated into the following core areas:
The main focus of teaching is the theoretical reflection of design practice. To this end the program integrates approaches from aesthetic theory, cultural and art studies, sociology, and philosophy. Lectures, seminars, colloquia, and supervised individual projects examine design phenomena in all their cultural, social, and political relations. Students learn to apply a variety of methodological approaches, and to engage with the past, present, and possible future of design. One thematic focus is the interplay of technological, ideological, and aesthetic developments. In this way, in addition to the knowledge and skills acquired, a critical perspective is practiced that rests on a secure foundation and thus can also be defended.
For its research works the subject area assumes a broad interpretation of design. It examines design practices from a variety of forms and formats, interpreting them in their individual functions. Starting with the commodity and consumer goods, through aesthetic interventions in bodies and spaces, and on to design in digital cultures. In each case, design is understood as an attempt to awaken interest, to assert claims, and to negotiate identities. One methodological concern of the field is therefore to investigate design for its social premises and political conditions. This is meant disempower essentialistic attributions and to open up the contexts of design.