(De)Constructing Designerly Visions

A Course about Transformative Learning in the Design Process

Teaching Content

Whether it is about the design of technical systems, social structures, urban environments or digital products, design always materializes something that does not yet exist in the present, and rather in visions of the future. However, how humans perceive the world and imagine futures is subjected by constraints that emerge from experiences in social environments. Due to such constraints certain ideas are more dominant than others, which often remain hidden or are even unimaginable. Furthermore, design also creates constraints that affect prospective visions and therefore designs. As a result, design repetitively reproduces existing assumptions and circumstances, and thereby prevents fundamental path changes such as towards social-ecological sustainability.

Teaching Objective

In order to address and counteract against such reproduction, this seminar introduces a social-scientific perspective on what constrains the imagination of possible futures. In addition, the approach of transformative learning will be integrated into design in order to reflectively navigate these constraints. Like that, students learn about the constraints of imagination and how visions can be systematically reflected and novel possibilities explored. The intended outcome is that students will gain an idea of how this approach can be used in both, design research and design practice. Furthermore, the seminar is intended to enable a more conscious perspective of where future imaginations come from and how they influence individual and collective actions and decisions. Some questions students could address: How do discourses from the past and present shape visions of the future? What role do these visions play in design projects? What are the limits of the imaginable? Which dominant ideas are unconsciously embedded in designs? How do existing assumptions and circumstances get reproduced?


HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd


Markus Kreutzer