Design and Organization


In order to design, Designers need tools, such as pencils, dremels, notebooks, software or brainstorm-sessions. In order to mediate between the ‘uncertain’ and the ‘real’, Designers also design tools, such as guiding systems, urban structures, services or interfaces.

The greek word for ‘tool’ – organon – is also the origin for the word ‘Organization’, which might be best described as a process including different forms of planning, preparing, structuring, evaluating and executing. Including different acts of analysis, projection and synthesis. Including an orientation and adjustment towards certain visions or goals.

When talking about the complexity of Design in terms of organizational tasks, patterns and potential, a broad range of perspectives can be taken into account. What are the links, the parallels and where are the limits between organizing and designing? How can design (help) inform or trigger an Organisation, or the Processes within an Organisation? What role can design play in institutional Organisations. What about Organizations that deal with design topics (such as Design Councils, Design Centres or Design Societies)?  

[Egyptian Design Students visiting the “Werkbund Archiv / Museum der Dinge”, Berlin]

In the summer semester 2014, a group of 27 graphic-, media- and product-design students at GUC Berlin Campus participated in the theory course “Design & Organization”, in which this broad range of approaches and perspectives was being explored.

The course was complemented by a series of lectures on organizational patterns, design management and professional practice, which were taken as a basis for a design-argumentative perspective in the students’ work. It also triggered the students’ textual approximation towards their own work through a multiperspective critical thinking about Design.  

[Raban Ruddigkeit]

Sessions included the “Architectural Perspective” (Uwe Kuckertz / Staubach&Kuckertz), the “Brand Perspective” (Anja Rosendahl), expertise from product design and a “Holistic View” (Christoph Fleckenstein / Iondesign), a typo/graphic perspective on the challenges of “Organization vs. Creation” (Raban Ruddigkeit), or Katrin Hinz’ (HTW) thoughts on “Universal Design Thinking”.

Challenges for “Organizing the Past” were being explored with Christian Mayrock (Werkbundarchiv/Museum der Dinge) from a curational and design-museologist perspective. Together with Lola Güldenberg (L Design), the group discovered aspects of “Organizing the Future”, from a trendscouting point-of-view.

In a “Design Portfolio” Session with Ulrike Meyer (Connecting Talents), the group investigated on their individual designerly strengths as well as possibilities to show and present them. The importance of promoting design (e.g. against industry or politics) as well as different forms of networking finally lead to discuss notions of “Connecting Business, Society and Culture” with Cornelia Horsch (IDZ).

[Cornelia Horsch / Internationales Design Zentrum]

By developing organizational questions as design questions, the findings of this course helped the students to clarify both their design analytical and design rhetorical arguments. No doubt, there are surely various non- or semi-organized impulses, design can profit from. Such as open structures, intuition, inspiration, experiment or even failure. But what also became clear in this course was that organization is a strong core element of design. And vice versa: there is great potential for designers to design organizational processes.

… and for both they use and design specific tools.

Tom Bieling | Berlin, March 2015  




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