Prof. Dr. Carolin Höfler

This teaching and research area focusses on design processes that are generally seen as practical processes which lead to a work product. In contrast, design in this research context is conceptualized as a process of producing knowledge and reflecting structures. This shift in perspective aims at overcoming the traditional boundaries between theoretical and practical disciplines and at assigning design a new fundamental place between the humanities, natural sciences and technology (Wolfgang Schäffner, The Design Turn, 2010). The need to redefine design related to science results from the fact that the disciplines are more intertwined than most might recognize.

The modern natural sciences are concerned with design-related questions when natural systems are not only investigated but also newly developed. “What are nano- or bio-technologies if not the expansion of design to another level?“ (Bruno Latour, A Cautious Prometheus?, 2008). The Humanities have also been focussing on design practices in order to explore its significance for the production, modelling and communication of knowledge. Conversely, design and architecture have made efforts to achieve a new theoretical foundation and to establish a genuine design research throughout the last years.

In the context of a university of applied science the question on the relationship between design and science concerns both theory and practice. This is exactly where the analysis and the experiments of this research area begin. On the one hand, the aim of design theory and research is to gain a better understanding of knowledge-constituting design processes, on the other hand to explore new design methods to extend knowledge. A special research and work focus of this area will be put on practices, media and concepts of digital form-finding. The spectrum ranges from the analysis of instruments, tools, and apparatus to the study of computational form-finding methods, and the uncovering of traditions and strategies that motivate and shape the digital processes and products.