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The importance of the sketch: Projects in the “Design and Mobility” degree program

“The sketch is our common communication medium,” says Prof. Alexander Forst. The Design and Mobility degree course in Selb is very practically oriented. Among other things, students have access to a drawing room. Students often produce sketches there for joint project exercises. Some concepts then lead to collaborations with regional or national companies. In an interview with “campuls-digital”, course director Prof. Lutz Fügener and Prof. Alexander Forst explain exactly how the semester projects are structured and what requirements the students have in the drawing room.

fünf Studierende des Studiengangs Design und Mobilität sitzend im Zeichensaal der Hochschule Hof im Spiegelhaus um sich auszutauschen
Group work in the Design and Mobility degree program; Photo: Hof University of Applied Sciences

Study projects, which have a duration of one semester, are usually structured in three phases: the knowledge phase, creative phase and translation phase. The division into different phases provides orientation in the ongoing process.

“The hand-drawn sketch is the most important form of design expression. The tool – the pencil and its derivatives – combine the fleeting thoughts, which are subject to constant modification, with the permanent storage medium of paper in an immediate, intuitive way.

Prof. Lutz Fügener, Head of the Design and Mobility course

He continues: “In the design process, the sketch is a means of thinking for visual work on complex concepts, structures and forms, serves to note down design ideas and is suitable as a universal and efficient means of communication due to its independence from language.”

Ansicht eines Sschreibtisches mit Stiften; Handskizze im Studiengang Design und Mobilität
Photo: Hof University of Applied Sciences

Prof. Forst, in which semesters and as part of which course do students use the drawing stations?

“Drawing is an important working and communication tool in the project subjects. From the first semester onwards, we use drawings to visualize, record and discuss our ideas. The drawing stations simulate a design studio situation, create a professional working atmosphere and facilitate comparison and exchange. We encourage the students to work on site in Selb in order to learn from each other. Drawing is an integral part of every project subject.”

What do you draw with?

“Basically, the students are free to choose what they draw with. This can be anything from an ordinary ballpoint pen or pencil to a monochrome colored pencil. After the hand-drawn sketch, the drawings are often further processed digitally in order to increase the quality and achieve a photorealistic image.”

Studierender zeichnet ein Auto mit Bleistift nach; Hand und Block zu sehen
Photo: Hof University of Applied Sciences

How is the product developed step by step over the course of the semester?

“Every project is special and requires individual planning and implementation. However, we can roughly divide a semester into a knowledge phase – two weeks of collecting and evaluating information – a creative phase – five weeks of generating concepts and designs – and an implementation phase – seven weeks of implementing a final idea in 3D programs. What is important in the implementation phase is, on the one hand, the preservation of the basic conceptual assumption and, on the other hand, the creation of a three-dimensional formal aesthetic quality.

We use various creative techniques and forms of visualization to give shape to our project brief.

Prof. Alexander Forst

Is there a predetermined theme or are the sketches about a specific type of vehicle?

“We have set certain framework conditions through the module descriptions and the study and examination regulations (SPO). From intermodal transportation to individual transportation to scenario-based mobility, there are a variety of ways to deal with the given topic conceptually and creatively. As a rule, we don’t aim for a specific type of vehicle, but consciously look for innovative and individual solutions that do justice to the task and the usage scenario.”

Studierende des Studiengangs Design und Mobilität im Zeichensaal mit mobilen Zeichenwänden an ihren Projekten sitzend
Students of the Design and Mobility course in the drawing room with mobile drawing walls; Photo: Hof University of Applied Sciences

Are the vehicles sketched and created for training purposes or are there specific collaborations with companies?

“Both as well as. We regularly work together with companies of different sizes in various cooperation models. This gives students an insight into how the respective company thinks and acts and allows them to deal with specific tasks from industry. The company also benefits from the innovative and unconventional ideas of young students.”

How important is that for industry?

“Very important. The students are the potential users of tomorrow and can already face the challenges of the future during their studies. We also train various creative and implementation techniques in different tasks. The sketch materializes a specific train of thought or conceptual starting point.”

Zeichnungen aus dem Studiengang Design & Mobilität
Sketches in the drawing room of the Spiegelhaus in Selb; Photo: Hof University of Applied Sciences
Prof. Lutz Fügener
Prof. Alexander Forst
Carolin Richter

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