Product design students tackle social issues from racism to ableism

Product design students at Lucerne School of Art and Design tackle social issues from racism to ableism

A liquid soap made from urine and backpacks that house portable oxygen tanks feature in this VDF school show of socially-conscious products from Lucerne School of Art and Design graduates.

The nine projects were created as part of the student's BA Object Design course, which "broadens the classic scope of product design to include areas beyond industrial applications".

Alongside this showcase, the Lucerne School of Art and Design is also highlighting work created by students from two other courses within the university's product design department at the Virtual Design Festival.

A further nine projects from Lucerne's BA Textile Design students celebrate the craft and heritage inherent within their discipline, while projects published as part of the BA XS Jewellery exhibition push the boundaries of what constitutes jewellery.


BA Object Design, Lucerne School of Art and Design

University: Lucerne School of Art and Design
Course: BA in Object Design
Tutors: Gabrielle Alioth, Suzan Curtis, Mònica Gaspar, Florian Hauswirth, Thai Hua, Sebastian Kraft, Johanna Lier, Sibylle Meier, Michael Niederberger, Mundy Nussbaumer, Tido von Oppeln, Tom Pawlofsky, Samuel Perret, Andreas Saxer, Christoph Schindler, Christof Sigerist, Dagmar Steffen and Nora Wagner

Course statement: 

"Product design shapes the way we perceive, select, consume and produce products. The Bachelor of Arts in Object Design provides product designers with the tools they need in a post-industrial society. Object Design broadens the classic scope of product design to include areas beyond industrial applications – from creating limited-run series for specific needs to producing unique pieces that may be more akin to the practice of fine arts.

"In this course, students learn to combine opposites: digital and material components, tradition and innovation, the Swiss market and the global one. This equips them with a broad understanding of existing markets while challenging them to discover niches and seek out unrecognised chances. They become, in essence, researchers skilled in finding solutions that balance the interplay between design, production and consumption, which are viable for the future.

"Within the framework of the Virtual Design Festival, the Lucerne School of Art and Design is proud to present 22 degree projects in total, stemming from the BA Object Design, BA Textile Design and BA XS Jewellery courses, which due to Covid-19 were largely created off-campus.

"We warmly congratulate our graduates on their successful degree works, wish them much future success and hope they receive a lot of constructive feedback from the worldwide visitors to the Virtual Design Festival.

"Their degree show can be seen online under hslu.ch/wwwerkschau and in person at the School of Art and Design, from 18 September."


Unknown by Paula Caviezel

"Our faces express our individuality – our beings are revealed in their complexity in the diversity of our facial features. But what happens when this intimacy is no longer safeguarded and is recorded and stored by all-pervading surveillance systems?

"Cameras equipped with artificial intelligence technology identify faces, analyse them and feed the findings into central databases. As a result, the protection of personal privacy in public spaces is no longer given. With this project, I hope to highlight the topic of automatic surveillance by making data collection a tangible experience while allowing users to restore their sense of self-determination."

Email: paula.caviezel@gmx.ch
Course website: hslu.ch/objektdesign-bachelor20
Degree show: hslu.ch/wwwerkschau


Serendipity by Ilghar Dadgostari

"Serendipity is a pavilion designed for small, open-air music festivals. The atmosphere created in the process initiates a connection between age-old architectural approaches and contemporary musical gatherings.

"The visual pattern of the roof and shadows it throws on the ground convey a spatial and sensuous harmony, which aims to evoke visitors' emotional receptiveness. Its modular design enables the product to be quickly assembled, dismantled, packaged and transported. The structure's geometric pattern can be continuously enhanced and refined."

Email: ilghar.dadgostari@gmail.com
Course website: hslu.ch/objektdesign-bachelor20
Degree show: hslu.ch/wwwerkschau


Product design students tackle social issues from racism to ableism

Complex/ion by Maya Ellerkmann

"The illusion of race has taken on a life of its own. We continually create it and recreate it in our social lives and in doing so we give it meaning. Inspired by my own background as a multiracial person of Afro-American and German descent, I hope to challenge the stereotypes that are associated with skin colour.

"Each mirror frame in the Complex/ion series varies in form and colour, yet together they become a vision of unity. No matter what external appearance we may have, the mirrors show each of us in the same way. In this way, they encourage us to take a closer look at our own reflection and question if our skin colour truly holds any more gravity than what we are setting in the mirror."

Email: me.objects@gmx.ch
Course website: hslu.ch/objektdesign-bachelor20
Degree show: hslu.ch/wwwerkschau


Aéras by Corinne Krähenbühl

"By default, anybody who wears an oxygen tank stands out. But exactly how they stand out is up to the individual. Aéras is a backpack collection for Philips Respironics portable oxygen concentrators, that does not treat the medical aid as a sign of imperfection but elevates it to embody the personal style of the wearer.

"The backpacks require openings, through which the device can take in air. Instead of disguising them, the function of the medical aid is proudly and stylishly accentuated as a design element in its own right. Because in an inclusive society, impairments are allowed to be visible."

Email: corinne.kra@gmail.com
Course website: hslu.ch/objektdesign-bachelor20
Degree show: hslu.ch/wwwerkschau


Product design students tackle social issues from racism to ableism

Wake Up! by Leila Saad

"Reshaping perfectly functional, aesthetically pleasing products has become the definition of product design. Wake Up! questions the validity of today's approaches to product design and product design education in light of the climate crisis, arguing that the next generation of practitioners needs to be equipped to design for the challenges to come.

"Consisting of ten alarm clocks with no stop or snooze buttons, this scene represents a moment of realisation. The epiphany, in this case, is that in order to create timely, relevant designs, we must dispose of the outdated mindset of reshaping pre-existing products for consumerist satisfaction and redefine the purpose of the profession."

Email: leila.a.saad@gmail.com
Course website: hslu.ch/objektdesign-bachelor20
Degree show: hslu.ch/wwwerkschau


By Every Layer (of Paper) by Tobias Scheidegger

"Per capita and per annum, Switzerland generates 150 kilograms of waste paper, much of it simply through thoughtlessness. How can awareness be raised for this valuable and multifaceted material in compulsory schooling, so that future generations can learn to think in other categories and develop a responsible approach towards the material?

"By Every Layer (of Paper) demonstrates a potential solution to this question by allowing students to experience the material qualities of paper within a lesson. Through a workshop, material kits and instructions for experiments and object creation, the project aims to open up new experiences and perspectives that ultimately lead to actions."

Email: tosch.ts@gmail.com
Course website: hslu.ch/objektdesign-bachelor20
Degree show: hslu.ch/wwwerkschau


Product design students tackle social issues from racism to ableism

Ineo by Meret Trösch

"Everyday situations can trigger existential survival mechanisms. When feelings of powerless and fear arise, children can become prisoners of their emotions, which can lead to a renewed traumatisation. In child and youth psychiatry and similarly in psychotherapy, the child's imagination is seen as an opportunity to internally shield themselves and to create an emotional distance from what has been experienced.

"Ineo, from the Latin word inire meaning to go inside or to begin, was developed for use during therapy sessions with traumatised children. It is a personal object, to which the child and the therapeutic professional can form a relationship, allowing them to imagine a protective shield that provides a route to renewed movement and action."

Email: meret_troesch@hotmail.com
Course website: hslu.ch/objektdesign-bachelor20
Degree show: hslu.ch/wwwerkschau


.|o by Selina Witzig

"For many people, the experience of working within the confines of their own four walls is new. That means ideas are needed to help structure their working day. In order to maintain focus and comfort, short breaks are particularly important.

.|o gets things moving in the everyday home office through a wide range of balancing exercises. It consists of various separate elements, that can be combined as desired. Using various different shapes and material properties, .|o invites users to sense their own body's centre of gravity and to play with equilibrium. As an aid and a creative opportunity, .|o provides structure, variety and balance in the home office."

Email: selinawitzig@gmail.com
Course website: hslu.ch/objektdesign-bachelor20
Degree show: hslu.ch/wwwerkschau


Product design students tackle social issues from racism to ableism

Fullonum by Petra Wyss

"The skin, as the largest human organ, is exposed to a daily barrage of gels and soaps full of synthetic substances with an overly aggressive cleaning effect. Aren't these ordeals in reality a form of bodily harm?

"Fullonum explores the realm of natural ingredients that have been used for personal hygiene since antiquity. The result is a vessel and a DIY recipe for the manufacture of a liquid soap that is both kind to the skin and environmentally friendly.

"Using selected Swiss herbs and clay, Fullonum transforms the user's urine into a cleansing, anti-bacterial liquid soap with the aroma of fresh hay. Be pristine, shower with urine."

Email: petra_wyss@bluemail.ch
Course website: hslu.ch/objektdesign-bachelor20
Degree show: hslu.ch/wwwerkschau


Virtual Design Festival's student and schools initiative offers a simple and affordable platform for student and graduate groups to present their work during the coronavirus pandemic. Click here for more details.