Photo by Konrad Wachsmann 2022, © Gui Bonsiepe

German designer and former KISD professor Gui Bonsiepe turned 90 on 23 March. He is considered one of the most important design theorists of the present day, particularly in Germany and South America.

Born in Glücksbug in 1934, Bonsiepe first studied graphic design and architecture in Munich until 1959, then design theory at the hfg ulm (Ulm School of Design). After graduating, he continued to teach and research product design and visual communication at the hafg.

Since 1968, he has worked as a designer and consultant for industrialisation policy in South America, particularly in Chile, Argentina and Brazil. Among other things, he worked as a UN expert for industrial design in Chile as part of a technical development aid programme. From 1970 to 1973, he was head of the team that developed the “Opsroom” transaction room of the Cybersyn project for the government of Salvador Allende.

While working for a software company in the USA from 1987 to 1989, Bonsiepe focussed on Interface Design. From 1993 to 2001, he taught and researched as a professor of Interface Design in the Department of Design at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences (now the KISD at the TH Köln) and was a lecturer in integrated media at the Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro. In 2010, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Mexico for his achievements in the field of design.

Gui Bonsiepe is regarded as one of the leading thinkers within the field of design method and practice and has had a lasting influence on the discourse in this area as a teacher, researcher and author. Today, his publications are among the standard works in design theory.

Extract from the list of publications

  • Design im Übergang zum Sozialismus: ein technisch-politischer Erfahrungsbericht aus dem Chile der Unidad Popular (1971 – 73), in: Designtheorie; Bd. 1, Red. Designtheorie Designtheorie, Hamburg, 1974
  • Teoria e pratica del disegno industriale : elementi per una manualistica critica, Feltrinelli, Milano, 1975
  • Interface: Design neu begreifen, Bollmann, Mannheim, 1996
  • Entwurfskultur und Gesellschaft: Gestaltung zwischen Zentrum und Peripherie, Birkhäuser, Basel; Boston, Mass.; Berlin, 2009


Gui Bonsiepe 2015 in Berlin with the lecture: Can Design Change Society?

Photo: Konrad Wachsmann, 2022, © Gui Bonsiepe