Five minutes with a Winter School expert: Eva Brandt

Professor Eva Brandt, of KADK, lecturing at Winter School.

Professor Eva Brandt has joined Winter School for the second year running. Eva joins us from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Design (KADK). She brings with her a group of 10 students from the MA programme in Codesign at KADK. Here she explains why the collaboration with GSA provides a refreshing take on design education.

Tell us a little about your Design background and interests, as well as the themes you brought to Winter School 2017.

EB: First of all, thank you very much for the invitation to be part of this. For more than 20 years I have worked in the fields of participatory design and codesign in various settings. I am co-lead at the Centre for Research in Codesign at KADK, and our MA programme in Codesign.

My research interests are two-fold. One concerns how designers can stage open design processes with many participants where they both can inquire into existing practices and explore possible futures in common. The other part concerns theorising about experimental design research driven by programs and experiments. Apart from this I love teaching. My talk at the Winter School was about “Challenges, strategies and experiences with collaborative design”.

From your perspective, what are the benefits of the research and teaching carried out at Winter School?

EB: I think that is very exciting to be here. Both students and faculty come from different countries, institutions and educational programs. The faculty is transdisciplinary and come with different competencies and research interest but have a common interest in social design. I think that we can all benefit very much from listening to each other and sharing interests and experiences.

What advantages does the school offer students?

EB: I am happy to see the students work hard and that they are engaged with their respective themes. An important advantage with this international Winter School is that the students can explore a theme in many different ways. These kind of reflections are essential as it gives new perspectives on one’s own ways of thinking and working. They hopefully also provide inspiration to experiment with other approaches. I think that the Winter School is an excellent opportunity for exchanging and learning.

I am very grateful that Gordon Hush from GSA spent a lot of time prior to Winter School finding external partners for the students to collaborate; e.g. Altyre Estate, Ballindalloch Estate, Pluscarden Abbey and Johnstons of Elgin. The external partners visited the students on day two and a few days after the students did a field visit at their premises. Even though two weeks is a short time the students have had the opportunity to engage with real partners on real issues which I think is great.

What do you hope that students have learned from Winter School?

EB: Designers need to be good at working from an open design agenda and getting to know a new field fast. It takes curiosity and an empathic approach. They have also found out how to deal with uncertainty. This Winter School is really about learning-by-doing. I hope that the students will have learned from experiencing some of this and that they are inspired to do more.

Why should we collaborate here in the Highlands and Islands?

EB: I think it is a good strategic choice for GSA to both have a campus in Glasgow and one in the Highlands and Islands. It gives students and faculty the opportunity to live, study and work in both urban and rural areas. It seems perfect for research to be close to the communities that you want to engage with, and I hope that being in the Highlands and Islands can lead to more long-term engagements. I am looking forward to following this initiative and think that it can be very inspiring for other educational institutions.


An international view of Winter School 2017: Professor Eva Brandt from The Glasgow School of Art on Vimeo.

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