NERD Conference Event Recap

After talking at TYPO Berlin myself recently, last week Vera and I joined the New Experimental Research in Design (NERD) Conference at The Braunschweig University of Art (HBK) as attendees. Organized by the Board of International Research in Design (BIRD), the event aims to function as a platform for collaboration and discussion on the field of design as an independent research subject.

The two day event took place in the assembly hall of the HBK, a beautiful building in the heart of Braunschweig. After a short and warm welcome by Vanessa Ohlraum, Prof. Dr. Michael Erhoff and Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Jonas, six speakers from all around the globe presented their remarkable contributions in a very comprehensive and insightful way. A large slot after each talk allowed both the speakers and the audience to discuss and reflect on the presented work.

Dr. Rael Futerman from the University of Cape Town in South Africa opened the conference with a talk on his involvement in the suburbs of Cape Town, making it clear that design has to be situated not only in pure theory, but also in the life of humans affected by design. After a short break, Sajith Gopinath discussed design in the context of playfulness, aging and social transformation and Max Pietro Hoffman from Cologne presented his Bachelor Thesis on the means of digital images — claiming that digital photography is a totally different medium than photography itself by underlining his theory with various impressive investigations. Melanie Levick-Parkin held an enlightening talk on the role of the female designer and the ongoing struggle to exist in a male dominated world. Researching the correlation between different scriptural variations and social positioning in urban space, Irmi Wachendorff presented her impressive results in a very heartwarming manner, making it clear that the perception of typography really has an important impact on our lives. Otto Paans closed the first day with his work on the challenges of sustainability through architectural design practices.

The next days sessions was opened by Laura Popplow, with a discussion on the terminology of co-making as a new term in the intersection of co-working and design-participation. A literal trash-talk (in a figurative sense) was given by Susanne Ritzmann from the UdK Berlin on a dedicated design theory of trash. Shintaro Miyazaki presented the current status of his ongoing case study on the reinterpretation of the complex & invisible wireless signals around that surround us. Helga Schmid showcased her interpretation of uchronia (a neologism from the word utopia) focussing on the reception and design of time. Next to that an interesting exploration of design as a form of economic practice was given by Kakee Scott. Last but not least Soren Rosenbak closed the conference with an introduction into the world of Pataphysics as an experimental perspective to understand design.

Coming from the commercial perspective of design, where the subject of design is merely treated as an umbrella term of services we offer to our clients, it was very valuable to gain insights into the academic perspective of the subject. Not only out of curiosity, but also as a reflection on our ongoing shift from a traditional branding agency into a new breed of agency working on the challenges of today’s design terminology.


Find more information on the work of BIRD and the schedule of the next events on their website. Feel free to catch up with us as we’re certain to attend the next events. Thanks for having us BIRD & HBK!


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