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MASTER’S PROGRAMME DESIGN CURATING & WRITING

Design Curating and Writing is rooted in the practice and performance of research through, about, and alongside design. As a master’s course, it pursues a high level of quality, criticality, rigour, and depth in the act of research. However, as an evolving discipline that is situated between design practice, cultural critique, artistic exploration, theoretical discourse, political activism, and public engagement, DC&W demands its own ideologies, ethics, methods, and outputs of research. In particular, it looks at researching, materialising, and making public as active processes, intertwined and simultaneous and mutually reinforcing, with the aim of advancing existing discourses and launching new ones in relation to design.

The DC&W programme situates itself within an expanding and diversifying field of design. Working side-by-side with peers in the other master’s programmes in Information Design, Social Design, and Contextual Design, and as part of the larger DAE community, DC&W searches for new forms of engagement amongst a diversity of fellow design researchers, contexts, and ideologies. The urgency in design discourse is pluralism: design is simultaneously an agent of change and a symptom of change, a product of and a vehicle for the status quo.

DC&W embraces a broad understanding of curatorial and editorial positions, whereby the development of method, language, and context for design research and its mediation, materialisation, and publication become the scope of education as defined by a student’s individual and the class’ collective trajectory. Students may define themselves as designers that work with words, theorists that work with materials, curators that work with assemblies of people, critics that work with code, or any other permutation and combination of a nearly infinite variety of positions.

DC&W envisions itself as a porous department whereby engagement with other designers, artists, researchers, communities, and institutions is paramount to research and the development of shared discourse. Integral to its curriculum is the student-led organisation of small-scale, semi-public events aimed at making public the department’s research in and through design. As cultural institutions become increasingly permeable to the public, as “curation” diffuses into more disciplines and informal channels and contexts, DC&W actively questions fixed or standardised formats, and sees the department as a space for prototyping new curatorial and institutional forms and practices.

The ethos of the course under co-heads Agata Jaworska and Tamar Shafrir is further delineated in the following texts and personal works:

  • Agata Jaworska and Tamar Shafrir, “Who curates what, when, where, for whom, and how?”, Questioning Design, September 2018 — an article written through conversation and discussion reflecting on the meaning and power of curation in design

  • Tamar Shafrir, “Are Words Things?”, Questioning Design, September 2018 — an article about the relationship between design and theory and between objects and language

  • Agata Jaworska and Giovanni Innella, “The Life Fair”, Dwell March/April 2017

PROGRAMME STRUCTURE

FIRST YEAR CURRICULUM

In the first year of DC&W, students will be introduced to key principles, tools, critical perspectives, theoretical discourses, and active debates and issues of urgency in the contemporary landscape of design research. The course is driven by three overarching goals for each student—to identify, strengthen, and expand their personal working method; to foster their capacity and affinity for different forms of collaboration; and to stimulate their critical capacities for individual and collective reflection and positioning within a larger field of theory and practice. Each semester focuses on a certain type of research trajectory—from material artefact to thematic and critical narrative, from abstract issue to material landscape, and from subjective lived experience of the present day to precise line of design inquiry including strategic brief, working methodology, position, and orientation. By the end of the year, students will have increased their self-sufficiency as independent researchers, their familiarity with a variety of media and tools, and their skills as collaborators in preparation for the formulation of a year-long research trajectory during the second year.

SECOND YEAR CURRICULUM

In the second year of DC&W, each student develops an independently chosen interest or question into a year-long research project with multiple trajectories, methodologies, media or materials, and public encounters. Every student must determine their own way of working and their own brief, including the choice of formats, collaborators, outlets, and audiences. There are no predetermined formats for the research project, although it is expected that every student will explore a variety of media such as text, sound, film, performance, design, installation, lecture, social design, discourse, code, archives, exhibition, embodied practice, activism, publication, etc. However, each student is required to write an essay (3–7,000 words) as part of the master’s thesis requirements. With guidance from a variety of mentors, the students will pursue and reflect on their individual projects and simultaneously plan and produce a collective framework for making public the outcomes and ongoing processes of their research. The final evaluation is the opportunity to demonstrate intellectual rigour, originality, self-sufficiency, commitment, clear aims, signature methods, strategic communication, critical reflection, consideration of context, capacity for collaboration, and future potential for growth—the skills and qualities developed over the two-year course.

LEARNING FORMATS

Studio course
Design Curating & Writing is structured around a core studio course in each year, interwoven with a variety of different learning formats. The studio involves lectures, collaborative workshops, individual feedback sessions, intermediary presentations, and specific mini-assignments, varying from week to week. Readings and other sources of information will be suggested, but the emphasis is on learning through practice and peer discussion.

Pairings
Two practitioners are invited to participate as guests in a joint session framed by a common topic or research question. The format will be negotiated by the guests and students to stimulate the most insightful, energetic, surprising, or critical discourse—from interviews to quickfire debates, collective readings to seances, speed-dates to confessionals. The approach to organisation, hosting, and documentation is determined by the students.

B2B2B
The “back-to-back-to-back” is a three-part workshop series focused on a medium of critical importance—from sound and film to data and social for the collection, representation, and dissemination of research, guided by a practitioner with recognised expertise, experience, and critical insight in the respective field. The B2B2B will introduce each medium as a tool, a material, and a relational device (between author and research subject, between creator and audience, between collaborators, between different positions in a power structure, between expert and amateur, etc.); position the current state and possible future of each medium in a historical lineage; and encourage open-ended experimentation as well as informed reflection. Each B2B2B will be oriented towards the production of a collective public format (symposium, installation, publication, etc.) that shares new insights into the potentials, powers, and problems of the medium with a broader audience.
   
[Insert Name Here]
Design Academy Eindhoven has workshops for wood, metal, plastic, ceramics, textile, silkscreening, and rapid prototyping. As of 2018, DC&W is introducing a new addition: [Insert Name Here] is a workshop for student-led experimentation and collaboration in materialising research—as spatial intervention, discourse, publishing, or performance—in a semi-public context. Programming this space is a core activity of the DC&W department. [Insert Name Here] is both the site of collective learning and a test laboratory oriented towards the needs of the students. Each student may take advantage of the space in the way that best fits the aims of their studio project or engages their parallel interests in terms of a developing personal practice.

The most instrumental quality of [Insert Name Here] is its semi-public status. It can be used as an intermediary site of exchange between the Design Academy Eindhoven student, staff, mentor, and alumni populations and external practitioners, community members, students, collaborators, and institutional partners. With the presence and participation of these expanded “publics”, the space is intended to facilitate the development of research and shared discourse. The space will be (re)named, organised, and hosted by the DC&W students.

Acting Co-heads of Department

COORDINATOR

Karolien Buurman

Team of tutors, visiting lecturers and critics

Agata Jaworska (curator), Annie Fletcher (chief curator, Van Abbemuseum), Arif Kornweitz (curator, co-founder Ja Ja Ja Nee Nee Nee), Cynthia Hathaway (designer), Hannes Bernard (designer), Jeremy Jansen (graphic designer), Johannes Schwartz (photographer), Melle Smets (designer), Nadine Botha (writer, curator), Nick Axel (deputy editor, eFlux Architecture), René Boer (editor, Failed Architecture), Steven ten Thije (curator, Van Abbemuseum), Tamar Shafrir (writer, curator), Theo Deutinger (architect, TD Architects)