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More than ten years ago, Switzerland’s MA programmes in design started organizing an annual conference that is specifically dedicated to the research part of the student’s MA theses. Initially the Junior Design Research Conference (JRC) was part of the Swiss Design Network symposia, while 2021 is the 11th edition of the JRC as an independent event.

The aim of the JRC is to foster a student-led approach. Therefore, presenting students are asked to shed light on the knowledge gap that their projects are dealing with, their research methodology as well as the intersection between practice and theory.

In view of the students’ prospective careers, we invited representatives of the major Swiss institutions dealing with design to present their programs of support and awards: the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, the Federal Office of Culture and Design Prize Switzerland.



8:40 AM

Arrival and welcome coffee
Hall Kudelski

9:15 AM

Welcome and introduction to the Conference
Auditorium IKEA

Alexis Georgacopoulos, Director, ECAL
Davide Fornari, Head of R&D sector, ECAL
Margherita Banchi, JRC coordinator, ECAL

9:30 AM

Presentations I-III
Auditorium IKEA

Silvio Rebholz (ECAL)
TV studio sets – A space for reality and fiction

TV studio sets are spatial constructions in which TV formats, such as news, talks or game shows, are produced – always with the intention of transferring them onto screens. Looking deliberately at TV studio designs, it is striking how unusually shaped they are. Elaborately curved sofas or desks with integrated LEDs rarely surround us beyond the TV screen. Remarkably, these elements repeat across show genres and national borders, suggesting that it is about more than free formal expression.

Nicollier Ariane (HKB)
Allegories gone wild: animal rhetoric in Printed Propaganda from 1875 to 1945

By observing the patterns of animal rhetoric in satirical caricature this research analyses the transcultural visual language of defaming humour in propaganda between 1875 and 1945 – a time of growing production in printed media. Animals in propaganda were used to defame the political opponent, but how do they trigger dehumanization? Which recurring patterns are recognizable when comparing images from different countries involved in conflicts? What makes animal rhetoric such an effective tool for dehumanization? Because of the harmless appearance, allegorical images were persuasive during the social-political turmoil of those times, although it is still valid until today.

Annika Albrecht (FHNW)
I am not there: The challenge of implementing 3D technologies in the fashion design practice

I am not there explores the implementation of 3D technologies in the fashion design sampling process as a possible solution towards a more sustainable fashion supply chain. With a focus on knitwear, the project deals with the inherent technological peculiarities of knitting, while examining the challenges of digital sampling. Focusing on some crucial parts of the process – like rendering textiles – this work is structured around an array of practical experiments both analogue and digital.

10:00 AM

Panel I-III
Auditorium IKEA

Silvio Rebholz (ECAL), Nicollier Ariane (HKB), Annika Albrecht (FHNW)

10:10 AM

Presentations IIII-VI
Auditorium IKEA

Aishwarya Kaimal (HSLU)
Beyond Sight: A study on enriching and empowering the visually challenged Swiss citizens to take independent informed decisions while grocery shopping

This research project is an attempt to design accessible shopping experience for the visually impaired, blind, low vision community. In Switzerland, population is aging rapidly with the rising sociodemographic situation and life expectancy. A society in transition presents immense challenges and design opportunities for the FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) industries. It is assumed that accurate product labelling, structure and positioning make it effortless for consumers to learn the information that includes the nutritional value, expiry, price and to make accurate purchase decisions. However, the visually challenged community struggle to identify and locate the information on products, considering there is no distinction between the labels and the package. The fact that conventional labels are all interpreted visually suggests that labels hardly have any significance for a blind or visually impaired person. Hence this research ventures into the realms on how to create and craft an inclusive, accessible seamless experience by using the Double Diamond and DARE Framework. The aim is to explore multisensory tactile and textured labels, information placement and positioning on products, the relevance of tactile based labels and the importance of an accessible navigation.

Claudia Colombo (FHNW)
Latent images: A critical exploration of machine learning’s visual knowledge

Despite living in a society who relies on artificial intelligence to envision its future, humanity recognizes the defects and limitations of the AI with algorithmic bias being one of the most discussed topics that affects every aspect of our society at different extents. AI is an especially sensitive matter for those working with images on a regular basis, such as visual communicators.
This research questions the role of intelligent machines being able to understand the image data, process, transform and manipulate them to generate artefacts. This project aims at investigating how these images are perceived by humans and machines alike.

Juliana Schneider (ZHdK)
Designing for more than human futures

The past decades have been dominated by a human-centred approach to all things designed. But as we are redefining our relationship to technology and nature, it becomes clear how deeply interwoven our lives are with non-humans. In response, academic and artistic disciplines have been looking beyond the anthropocentric lens and considering more than just humans in their practice. Nevertheless, it seems that human-centredness is engraved in our designerly thinking and making. In addition, the concept of ‘More Than Human’ presents itself as a highly complex system that may prove increasingly hard to comprehend.
This research aims at questioning the prevailing design principles and subsequently pave the way into ‘More than Human’ futures. Moreover, by identifying and decoding this paradigm shift, this project seeks to build bridges between the ‘now’ and ‘next to come’, open up new possibilities, and expand horizons to other ways of knowing.

10:40 AM

Auditorium IKEA

Aishwarya Kaimal (HSLU), Claudia Colombo (FHNW), Juliana Schneider (ZHdK)

10:50 AM

Presentations VII-IX
Auditorium IKEA

Robin Delerce (HEAD)
Projecting Avoriaz

The Fantastic Film Festival of Avoriaz took place from 1973 to 1993. Over 21 editions, Avoriaz became a major event for the fantastic, sci-fi and horror movie scene. The setting of the ski-resort, the organic architecture, the selection of movies and the prestigious guests were all parameters of an event with a strong imaginary character. The aim of this festival was to transport its audience to a fictional reality for one week, just like a screening of a fantastic film is supposed to take you into its reality for the duration of the movie. This thesis explores the remains of this ephemeral, surreal and sprawling event, from its wild beginning to its slow, hungover sinking.

Ferrarelli Patrik (HKB)
The students agency: Design service and learning through activities

Today designers are not only required to have craftsmanship, creative solutions and technical know-how, but also project and self-management skills. Together, these are essential factors for ensuring a livelihood in the profession. Today’s design education teaches many of the creative skills, but organisational, communicative and strategic ways of thinking are usually neglected. Trying out real assignments during the study period could strengthen these so-called soft skills. The idea of a student agency integrated into the design school, which realises service projects, would give students the opportunity to strengthen their self-organisation, communication skills and project management right from the start of their studies. In interdisciplinary teams and accompanied by coaches as well as in exchange with the older semesters, the agency members work on corresponding assignments. In addition, they are given the opportunity to build up a network of potential clients from the professional world. The Student Agency is intended to form a link between studies and the world of work.

Walesca Frank (ZHdK)
Seeing me: An overwhelming history

Being Black in a White Society, I want to explore Black people's positive impact on Black people locally. How do we navigate and communicate our dreams and desires and shape our lives? What are we passing on to younger people that we may have been missing? Representation on the most immediate and tangible level. Through a collaborative space, we will encourage face-to-face interaction between Black people in the local community – real people telling real stories that are thought-provoking and, most importantly, inspiring.

11:20 AM

Panel VII-IX
Auditorium IKEA

Robin Delerce (HEAD), Ferrarelli Patrik (HKB), Walesca Frank (ZHdK)

11:30 AM

Hall Kudelski

12:00 PM

Presentations X-XII
Auditorium IKEA

Martin Dusek (HSLU)
Foster better conversations between city developers and residents

Citizen participation is a core concern in the development of modern cities. To strengthen sustainability and resilience in urban areas, as many stakeholder groups as possible are to be involved in the planning process. This study uses a dialogical approach to explore these interactions between stakeholders. On one hand, the chosen framework provides a novel way to analyse the data and helps to formulate suggestions to improve the current development approach. On the other hand, by adapting the mental model to the context of urban development, the canvas is critically questioned, enriching the young field of conversation design.

Augustin Ligner (ECAL)
Conditioning the unexpected

The aim of this project is to bring together two opposite states of consciousness: intuition and reflection, and to explore serendipity. The combination of these two reasoning can create space for freedom and open possibilities. Reflection is normally a long, logical, concrete and cold approach. On the opposite, intuition is illogical, warm but risky. This dialogue seeks to know where creativity sits. Imagine drawing a circle, where would you dance: On its inside it or on its edge? This research explores the margins of creation, the origin of ideas and strategies within the creative environment.

Chloé Michel (HEAD)
The Internet geography

The Internet is often seen as something immaterial: Barlow, in his Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, declares: “There is no matter here”. However, the Internet relies on a pretty physical infrastructure that we all use every day. Why is its materiality so often forgotten? For Boris Beaude, geography is not comfortable with the Internet, therefore it is often dismissed as a space.
This research aims at analysing how the Internet has been represented through maps during its evolution and how these representations have influenced our perception of the Internet as a geographically anchored space.

12:30 PM

Panel X-XII
Auditorium IKEA

Martin Dusek (HSLU), Augustin Ligner (ECAL), Chloé Michel (HEAD)

12:40 PM

ECAL Cafeteria


2:00 PM

Funding Partners
Auditorium IKEA

Helen Muggli, Design Specialist, The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia

Anna Niederhäuser, Project Head, Swiss Design Awards, Federal Office of Culture

Michael Hueter, Director, Design Prize Switzerland

2:45 PM

Introduction to the workshops
Auditorium IKEA

2:45 PM


Registrations to the workshops will be opened on November 18th

5:30 PM

Closing of the conference
Auditorium IKEA

Davide Fornari, Head of R&D sector, ECAL
Margherita Banchi, JRC coordinator, ECAL


5:40 PM

Apéro and DJ set
Hall Kudelski

DJ-set and audio performance by Caterina De Nicola


Workshop I

Silvio Rebholz


A special introduction round

This workshop ends where usually a workshop begins: With a short round of introduction conversations. Just as good TV studio set designs can influence the character and course of an interview through special seating arrangements, this workshop is about creating conversational constellations that positively influence a personal introduction conversation. Using existing objects and simple materials, participants can modify and transform furniture to prepare special round of dialogues at the end of the workshop. How are both interlocutors positioned? Are they doing another activity while speaking? Will they sit in a soft or a rigid environment? Are just some of the questions that participants will address during the exercise.

Bouroullec classroom, 1st floor

Workshop II

Nicollier Ariane


Don't look now – how to recognize key images?

We are living in a visual age. But how much do we know about the meaning of images and the message they convey? What can we learn from history about the role of images and how they might have contributed to radicalization? If meaning also lies in absentia, how do we look at what is missing in an image? During this workshop participants will look at historical images of animal rhetoric found mostly in propaganda and try to recognize what a key image is by putting the interpretative process to work as a group.

Salle BCV, 1st floor

Workshop III

Annika Albrecht


Am I there? Fashion and the invention of oneself

The question of personal identity and its representation – in both real and digital life – is an ongoing topic in the fashion design discipline. Assuming that our physical presence will be transferred in the virtual realm in the form of avatars – this workshop offers the opportunity to experiment with the creation of custom-made avatars using the MakeHuman software, opening up discussions on the individual identity and on the topics of beauty, gender, and inclusion.

Leenaards Auditorium, ground floor

Workshop IV

Aishwarya Kaimal


Beyond Sight – Upadaya

This workshop is a multi-sensory experience exploration. Starting from existing products packages, participants will prototype new solutions for a more accessible shopping experience using basic tools. This exercise will open the discussion to a more accurate product labelling.

Nan Goldin Auditorium, 3rd floor

Workshop V

Claudia Colombo


Ask the machine: An exploration of deep-learning generated images

This workshop aims at provoking a critical discussion on the role of deep learning technology by testing image-generator tools on Google Colab. After a brief introduction into the topic of machine learning’s visual knowledge, participants – divided into groups – pick a theme or a word to be explored until to generate artificial images. At the end of the workshop , each group present their visuals opening a discussion on the aesthetic of these computer-generated images.

Nussbaumer Auditorium, ground floor

Workshop VI

Juliana Schneider


Mundane utopias

This workshop is about exploring how everyday life might look like in ‘More than Human’ futures. It aims to find the intersections between mundanity and utopia and bring a certain normality to an otherwise unimaginable future. Overall, in this interactive workshop participants are encouraged to critically question the prevailing design paradigms and practice a ‘More than Human’ perspective to design. Through several exercises such as developing speculative narratives, creating critical objects and artefacts, and generating a new glossary, participants are encouraged to explore futures of life at all levels.

VIP room, ECAL cafeteria, ground floor

Workshop VII

Robin Delerce


Instant Fantastic Film Festival

The idea of this workshop is to try as a group to answer the question: What makes a festival?
During a quick brainstorming the group lists the mandatory elements of a movie. Participants will then split into small groups focusing on the production of one of the listed film components: one team works on the scenography, one on the posters, one on the teaser, one on the bar, etc. The goal is to focus on the essentials and produce a compact and minimalistic event.

Campana classroom, 1st floor

Workshop VIII

Ferrarelli Patrik


What vision, mission and values should a Student Agency represent?
Which phases of work are important for an assignment preparation, which during and which after a project? How do we learn and practice our skills in a student agency?
Together you will bring your knowledge and experiences to the table and discuss them in focus groups designing the student agency of the future.

Armleder classroom, 2nd floor

Workshop IX

Walesca Frank


Identity in dialogue

This interactive and thought-provoking workshop encourages participants to think about identities and how we perceive them. How do mechanisms of social interaction and identity construction work, and how do we get to know each other? How do the narrative and language change when we are describing ourselves to others? Through experiences, we encounter our differences and our collective understanding of oneself in the other. ‘Who am I’ and ‘Ask Me’ are two parts of the workshop that will give participants a new perspective on identity and hopefully leave an everlasting impression.

Tschumi classroom, 1st floor

Workshop X

Martin Dusek


Foster better conversations between city developers and residents

During this workshop, participants design collectively through conversation. Based on a concrete practical example of Swiss spatial planning, students will design as a group innovative improvement for participatory urban development. Participants are invited to question the understanding of collaboration and to exchange with others the personal experience from academia and praxis.

Salle BCV, 1st floor

Workshop XI

Augustin Ligner


Twist writing piece

This workshop takes the form of a writing performance that plays with the principle of randomness and repetition. Participants will be asked to write about a specific subject. This practical task will be randomly interrupted by music intervals. As the music plays the writing stops to enjoy music. This random alternation of physical expression (writing) and relax (listen at music) puts the participants under pressure. Not knowing when the writing session would stop and for how long, participants will accelerate the process of creation without spending time over-thinking.

IKEA auditorium, ground floor

Workshop XII

Chloé Michel


Mapping the Internet

How do you map the Internet when it is both a physical infrastructure and an immaterial space of connections? During this workshop, participants will collaboratively experiment to try to find new creative ways to map the complex reality of the Internet. The group will analyse how this Atlas of Maps that will be created reflects our subjective perception of the Internet.

Nan Goldin auditorium, 3rd floor


The registration is currently closed.


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ECAL/Ecole cantonale d'art de Lausanne
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