Design it in the studio and build it the workshop. This is the underlying motto which sums up a concept developed for a new three year degree course in design – to which can be added a further two in a specialised subject – which on 7 October launched the academic year at the new faculty of Art and Design which has opened at the Libera Universitain Bolzano. An innovative project at a European level which aims to combine the practical approach of northern European design schools with the classical and theoretical approach of the traditional Italian university.

To talk about the project is Kuno Prey, a designer as well as university professor – fresh from a nine year experience at the Bauhaus in Weimar – and currently dean of the faculty. “We would like to form a professional figure who is up to date with the times: a designer who can handle the design and making of a product right up to the visual communication, an interdisciplinary profile able to take on both the virtual demands dictated by digital technologies as well as the more practical ones relative to the choice of innovative and ecological materials”.

With these aims in mind, the academic organisation also differs from the traditional one and experiments with a new set up – rather than large classes there will be working groups of no more than twenty, in which students from different years will be mixed together. The admissions procedure is also innovative; it consists of a workshop lasting a number of days which aims to place the candidates in contact with both the teachers and the place, as well as stimulate their creativity and curiosity and reveal their attitude to working in groups. At the workshop held in September, out of ninety candidates accepted (out of 125 who requested to partecipate), fifty five were accepted, who will be added to a group of students from a design school who have been accepted on mass as a result of the closure of the school. The three day ‘test’ consists of the development of two mini-projects, a group project, two conferences on design and an individual interview.

So what are the minimum requirements for being accepted onto the admission workshop? As well as a school leaving diploma, the candidate should submit a video presenting themselves, a critical analysis of a two or three dimensional object and have a good knowledge of at least two languages. This latter is fundamental since teaching will be carried out in Italian, English and German – language courses organised within the institute will allow students to improve their language abilities or learn from scratch a new language – and lessons are held in the mother tongue of the head of the course. It is a very conscious educational decision born out of a conviction that languages represent a competitive advantage for students on the international job market and facilitate professional mobility.

As well as professional skills, the degree course at the Libera Universita in Bolzano aims to develop personal qualities, the student should become independent as early as possible, choosing what to study and when. So no structured exam process, no limits set in terms of having to pass one exam before moving on to the next, no compulsory attendance, although the nature of the course structure means full attendance is fundamental. The study plan will include design projects, lectures, seminars, language courses, specialised courses and workshops. The lectures and design work are organised in semesters: in the four main semesters planned, the students have to choose and work up four of the eight design projects proposed. As well as these, during the course of their studies, students have to take a total of fourteen courses and seminars and attend five specialised course in the workshops. With the exception of the first semester, the choice of which to take and when is completely free. There is also complete freedom to change track during the course of the three years and even decide to transfer to another university – studies are structured according to the educational credit system (ETCS) recognised at an international level.

Looking at the design projects then, which are the central feature of the faculty of Art and Design’s educational model; these are interdisciplinary, the conceptual stage of the design process is immediately followed up by putting it into practice and experimenting. In addition to design work supervised by a professor of design are therefore two courses in practice and theory taught by specialists to expand knowledge of the subject in question. For each design project a maximum of twenty students can participate, a limit imposed so that each person is able to receive sufficient attention. The teaching body is international and of a high level. This year the “design leaders” are Antonino Benincasa, Sebastian Bergne, Kuno Prey, Katrin Androschin, Michael Corsar, Stephanie Kubanek, Kris Krois and Martina Drechsel.

The options are many and interesting, assures the energetic dean Kuno Prey. They include the design of objects for daily use, technical systems and services, the development of graphic design projects, corporate identity as well as graphic design for media and web design. A broad ranging spectrum which aims to anticipate the rapid changes of the various professional profiles within the job market. So it seems that their papers are all in order – all that remains is to wish them ‘buon lavoro’.

Facolta’ di Design e Arte
Address: Piazza Domenicani 3, Bolzano, Italy
Tel: +39-0471-315 611

Text and Photos: Loredana Mascheroni from Domusweb

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