KISD aims to overcome traditional design boundaries and combine different approaches, perspectives and practices, in order to deal with problems and questions that cannot be solved within the boundaries of a single design area of expertise. Design is an integral part of every facet of the material and virtual world. It is responsible for and operates through products, environments, systems and services within political, social, economical and cultural contexts. We see design not only as a way to interfere in and question these processes, but as the production, acquisition, communication and documentation of knowledge.

The M.A. program »Integrated Design Research« welcomes applicants who want to examine how design can engage with questions of contemporary culture, politics, media, ecology and urbanity. A key component of the program is the development of a Final Thesis within the scope of one of the four thematic clusters listed below. Following your research interest, you will connect with different fields of expertise, broaden and deepen your competencies and focus your research.

Explore your interests – Find your perspective – Apply!

Anthropogenic climate change mainly caused by industrialized nations and the exploitation of natural resources is having a detrimental effect on ecosystems worldwide. A demand for change with respect to regenerative materials and resources, their distribution, sustainable long-term thinking versus short-term gain and the shift away from a human-centered towards a diverse and inclusive perspective entails a critical reflection of the life-cycles of products, systems and services.

By working with organic and inorganic matter like fungi, bacteria, algae, organisms, particles and fibers, as well as digital technologies, actuators, sensors, motors, LEDs and code, on open platforms and in participatory processes, design can explore novel textiles, material behaviors, responsive structures, interactive objects and tangible networks. The goal is to activate systemic change.

The range of possible perspectives encompasses:

  • making and hacking products, systems and services
  • generating open source platforms
  • exploring participatory processes
  • understanding material behavior and structures
  • experimenting with analog and digital craft
  • investigating the relationship of code and material
  • shifting perspectives – beyond human-centered design
  • re-contextualizing material properties
  • applying new materials and techniques
  • developing innovative fabrication processes

Related Projects

In the public and social sector, the pressure to innovate is constantly rising. New technologies will fundamentally change traditional working techniques. The expectations and quantitative demands on social and public services will increase while public resources and funds might decrease. In addition, changing expectations of young people about their future work and workplaces result in a high transformation pressure on public and social services.

In the thematic cluster »Social & Public Innovation«, we will analyze the role of design within these processes and deal with the question of how frameworks and parameters for continuous innovation and transformation can be arranged, co-created and established through the discipline of design. In close cooperation with other scholarly fields, for example the social sciences, information science, media studies, or ethics, we will experiment with and lay out drafts and resolutions on the following issues: co-creating and contributing to technology-driven transformation, developing future-oriented patterns of active participation and testing and modeling of new work cultures and working techniques through design.

The range of possible perspectives encompasses:

  • the exploration and projection of the effects of »service 4.0« on social and public services and their users or customers
  • reflections on ethical principles in the design and configuration of transformation processes, including the interaction with vulnerable users
  • the element of participation in digital and artificial worlds (distributed co-creation)
  • the analysis and investigation of cultural dimensions in the design process
  • the experimental fields of social and public artefacts as well as the exploration of future living environments.

Related Projects

Cities increasingly agglomerate power, capital and knowledge, while a growing movement of people, data, goods and finance emanates from them. In view of these developments, many cities can no longer meet the challenges of supply, social inclusion, economic integration and infrastructure.

At the same time, bodies, things, environments and technology are rapidly becoming more closely interrelated. These entanglements offer new potentials – cultural, social, economic, ecological – for alternative urban futures. The main focus of the thematic cluster »Urban Intensities & Resources« is to explore these new possibilities.

By means of spatial and urban analysis, development concepts, design scenarios, speculative interventions and experimental prototypes, we are looking for answers to how we want to live in the future and how urban spaces, infrastructures and institutions could be designed. Can the city be understood as a physical and virtual resource accessible for all citizens? How do people negotiate relationships with their urban environment? What are the complex and heterogeneous reference systems for their activities? Which social, political and technological developments and consequences arise from the compression and acceleration of urban space-time structures? And how can design take part in these developments?

NEW: As part of the thematic cluster »Urban Intensities & Resources«, there is the unique opportunity to select the interdepartmental concentration »Spatial Strategies,« in which design and architecture students work together on projects and seminars.

The range of possible perspectives encompasses:

  • individual spatial perceptions and collective imaginations of the urban sphere
  • data-driven modes of interaction with urban environments as well as new interfaces between bodies, things and spaces
  • structures of exclusion and disciplining and their overcoming
  • alternate political spaces and ways to participate in urban life and society
  • digital technologies for citizens participating in designing urban structures and  processes
  • new forms and technologies of mobility
  • urban practices of sharing and sustainable consumption
  • social utopias for living and working in the post-fossil city
  • potentials and »real experiments« of informal urban production

Related projects:

Contemporary everyday and media cultures relate to practices of rendering visible on the one hand and perception of visualizations on the other in a culturally distinctive way. Images and imaging techniques significantly determine processes of identity, recognition and transformation within a society. Media production and visual rhetorics preform economic, political and social discourses; they evoke moods, opinions and even world views. Visuals usually occur in combination with auditory, verbal, or tactile phenomena, which allows them to unfold in a multiplicity of ways.

As digitization and mediatization progressively permeate every facet of everyday life, the critical reflection of design, use and impact of images and hybrid media is becoming increasingly important. What can be negotiated through, communicated with and influenced by visual design? What are the opportunities and limits of visual argumentation and how can visual processes draw attention to specific concerns? These and other questions will be examined through tangible-practical and reflexive design processes.

The range of possible perspectives encompasses:

  • forms of communication in economic and political advertising
  • processing, materialization and representation of data in information design and data journalism
  • communication, collaboration and participation in digital communities and social media
  • techniques and types of branding and identity
  • informal and formal designs, which determine community, cooperation and coexistence
  • deconstruction and transformation of visual mythologies, narratives, memes and topoi
  • social, political and cultural ramifications of digitization and algorithmization
  • new forms of cultural and aesthetic articulation in the post-digital age
  • design as fiction

Related Projects

The MA  »Integrated Design Research« offers the opportunity to make transnational learning experiences and engage in transcultural research with regard to the thesis topic. We are currently running Double Degree programs with Tongji D&I in Shanghai/China and Chiba University in Chiba/Japan; a third program with NTUST in Taipei/Taiwan is being set up and will complement the two programs in 2022.