14 November 2016

Three new professors of design and a newly developed international master’s programme will further reinforce LiU’s position within Swedish design.

Designarbete hos MalmstensPhoto credit: David Einar NygrenThe bachelor’s programme in graphic design and communication was established at Linköping University ten years ago, and five times as many applicants now make it their first choice as there are places on the programme. The MSc in Design and Product Development has an ever higher ratio of applicants to places. Sweden’s leading programme in furniture design and crafts is given at Carl Malmsten Furniture Studies. The bachelor’s programme in Craft and Design at LiU won a prestigious award from the eastern regional association of Svensk Form in 2016. This programme is unique in Sweden. LiU's doctoral courses in design are also stimulating ever-increasing interest.

“The labour market for people with a broad education in design has truly expanded in recent years. Companies have discovered that they need such skills in their working groups,” says Jonas Löwgren, who has been professor of interaction and information design at Linköping University for just over a year now.

Increasing interest

He believes that three trends lie behind the new interest:
“As communication technology and the mobile internet developed, design became evermore necessary. The increased awareness of climate change and environmental issues is a second factor, while the third is the maker culture, which brings with it renewed interest in local crafts, and in design and innovation.”

LiU has a long tradition of research and education in design. The research that has long been carried out in, for example, design and cognition at the Department of Computer and Information Science, in design and construction at the Department of Management and Engineering, and in information design and visualisation at the Department of Science and Technology has been reinforced during the past year with three new professors.

These are, in addition to Jonas Löwgren, Stefan Holmlid, professor in design with a specialisation in services design and Renee Wever, professor of industrial design engineering with a Design GDKPhoto credit: Melinda Danielssonspecialisation in technical design. They are joined by Kersti Sandin Bülow at Carl Malmsten Furniture Studies, adjunct professor in design with a specialisation in spatial design.

These specialisations are reflected in the new international master’s programme in design.

Broad admission

Admission to the master’s programme is broad, and it is hoped that applications will be received from all over the world, from people with skills in architecture, industrial design, interaction design, traditional arts and crafts, etc. Three specialisations within the course will be offered: Sustainable Futures – with a specialisation in industrial design, Transformative Service – with a specialisation in design for services, and Visual Media – with a specialisation in information and interaction design.

“A great deal will, however, be common to all three specialisations, in order for the students to gain width and see things with new perspectives,” says Jonas Löwgren.

The backbone of the programme is a number of design studios based on important societal challenges in which expertise and skills of many types are required to find solutions that people are able to accept. Examples include civility (behaviour in a civilised society, the phenomenon of internet hate, etc.) and food wastage.

A studio is a form of education with a master-apprentice relationship in which the student initially learns by imitation.

“It requires the teacher to be secure in his or her role as master, and must be able to let go of supports one after the other as time progresses. The students must know all the fundamental rules in depth before they can break them in a productive manner,” Jonas Löwgren explains.

The LiU version

How does the LiU international master’s programme differ from other Swedish design courses?
Stefan Holmlid:

“Design is multidisciplinary in the true meaning of the word and LiU’s strength is that we are a full-spectrum university, all expertise and knowledge is here. We are also very familiar with working in multidisciplinary collaborations. Our students are to realise that they cannot solve all of society’s problems by themselves, but they will gain both broad and deep expertise that will enable them to contribute to a solution.”

Admission for the programme opened in the autumn of 2016, and we will know by January 2017 how popular the programme is among applicants. Initially, 30 places are available on the international master’s programme in design.