Symposium & Workshop
27 February 2014
Hochschule der Künste Bern, Auditorium, Fellerstrasse 11, 3027 Bern, Switzerland

INVAR HOLLAUS: Lecturer, HGK FHNW Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst Basel

The early history of the Basel School of Design’s international reputation developed out of the innovative cultural environments that manifested modernist tendencies in the late 1920s, both in Switzerland and abroad. Encircled by post-World War II Europe, Basel’s methodological approach toward design education, began to attract international students whose numbers would increase significantly in the 1960s and whose professional activities would proliferate these stylistic and didactic innovations globally.

In the late 1940s, the developing Basel curriculum synthesized systematic, discipline-based, kinaesthetic techniques into a didactic focused on training perception, craft-skills, compositional sensitivity, and analysis of image and meaning. With this – and the professional success of its instructors (e.g. Ruder, Hofmann, and later Weingart) – Basel became an internationally acknowledged centre of design and design education.

To date, little has been researched, analysed or published regarding these issues, on either an objective scientific or critical level; therefore we will begin our investigation by defining and implementing methodology that will validify the objectivity of the outcome. Our research plan includes the development of interview guidelines, video recorded interviews with members of the faculty involved in the development of the Basel curriculum (ca. 1940–1980),
analysis of the transcribed interviews by an international group of experts.

Using these tools, the issues to be investigated will include: Historical drivers, curriculum, pedagogical goals and practices, protagonists profiles/self-assessments, and peer reviews. Two priorities are: Interviews of the relevant protagonists and a structured analysis of the individual course content.

The completed research will be distributed in a published form where, we hope, to open a broader interdisciplinary discourse with other Design Schools in Switzerland and abroad, as well as developing an exchange of knowledge
and experience with other image generating sciences. And last but not least, to heighten an awareness of what the expression “Swiss Design” represents.

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