from left to right: Vice-Deans Prof. Sibylle Klose, Prof. Dr. Jan Of, Prof. Thomas Gerlach and the Dean of the School of Design Prof. Johann Stockhammer. Photo: Harald Koch


The School of Design in Pforzheim – DesignPF – is a vibrant institution with both, a strong vision for speculative futures and future making and deep historical roots in craft and industrialisation. Founded in 1877 as Ducal School of Craft, it started as an ‘educational laboratory’ of crafts, industrialized production and trade. Being devoted to creativity, experimentation and excellence, throughout the decades the School of Design established new educational components with a solid base on the principles of “Bauhaus” and “Ulmer Schule”.

Today DesignPF offers 6 Bachelor and 3 Master programs in Design: from Fashion, Jewellery and Accessory to Transportation Design and Media. The highly diverse range of award-winning design programs are recognized for highly skilled graduates with unique profiles, sensibilities and ingenuity in their professional practice.

DesignPF education provides a transferable and holistically formed expertise. A unique range of art-related core classes are offered to all students challenging their elastic and creative minds and fostering a design engagement of intellectual, experimental and tacit rigor. Inter- and trans-disciplinary ventures, collaborative projects, crossover activities foster critical, research-focused, innovation-led processes, strategies and global design approaches. 
By applying conceptual design thinking methods as well as experimental knowledge, students are trained to think holistically, to act critically and to collaborate interdependently.
This will be delivered to management through remarkable social skills, versatility, and professionalized communication tools as well as through the capacity to connect at speed.
Inter- and transdisciplinary collaborations with both international institutes and design-studios as well as with recognized industry partners will provide a critical, blending insight. This will evoke disruptive design investigations embracing new technologies as well as environmental and social challenges.

Some short facts about the School of Design:

  • 6 Bachelor and 3 Master programs in Design
  • one of the oldest and well-known Schools for Design in Germany
  • founded 1877 as Ducal School of Craft at the behest of the jewellery industry that wished to encourage Higher Education
  • since 2005 School of Design at Pforzheim University (public university – no tuition fees for EU-students)
  • is fully accredited and continuously evaluated by the state Baden-Wuerttemberg and ZEvA Hannover
  • since 2004 member of CUMULUS International Association of Art and Design Colleges

Graduate and postgraduate programs

The School of Design currently offers 6 Bachelor and 3 Master programs:

Bachelor of Arts in Accessory Design This unique degree course is the only accessory design program in Germany and responses to an urge of a highly dynamic and fast growing accessory industry with its upcoming, new market places. The subject is defined as an inter- and trans-disciplinary fulcrum, a creative scope between fashion, textile, jewellery, interior, industrial design and smart products. It features not only a wide range of segments like footwear, leather goods, bags, luggage and travel items, fashion jewellery, eye-wear and fashionable health- and sport-wear, but encompasses a large diversity of elements, gadgets, objects and artefacts up to mini-series and small collections. In-depth investigations across multiple disciplines provide a critical insight into different design approaches and offer a thorough understanding of process-related principles and their applications. By applying experimental methods, studio teaching and collaborative units stress the cultivation of critical and creative engagement, of working within limitations and interconnecting creativity and commerce. The course underpins a technical expertise, it covers a wide range of key skill sets, excellence, craftmanship, traditional manufacturing, up to contemporary techniques, smart technologies including 3D-processing and -printing. 

Bachelor of Arts in Industrial Design Industrial Design focuses on forming a new type of designer, a creative personality considering design no longer as a simply object-orientated activity, but a concept-driven, innovation-focused process of research, strategy and global design approaches. Nowadays the designers' impact has a broad spectrum, and it has to cover a wide range of multifaceted reference points comprising the classical area of product design, emerging disciplines, new market places, upcoming services, innovative developments in technology and engineering and environmental issues.

By applying varies methods and methodologies, students are trained to think holistically, to create and to work interdependently and will be able to cooperate successfully within competitive settings as both, team-partners and team-leaders. Due to integrated design management units, entrepreneurial thinking, managerial skills and commercial planning becomes an initial, stimulating part of the creative design process.

The degree course fosters inter- and transdisciplinary collaborations with both international institutes and design-studios as well as with recognized industry partners.

Bachelor of Arts in Fashion The highly diverse program content offers at its core a broad in-depth experience of fashion disciplines including menswear, womenswear, textiles and knitwear that combined, provide a transferable and holistically formed expertise. Extended research and investigational exploration of original ideas, will be contextualised and integrated into design strategies on different key levels: visually, materially, spatially, and textually.

The interplay of traditional and contemporary techniques with emerging technologies is as vital to the education as new developments, practices and technological shifts is in everyday life. Arguably the vectors of fashion, cultural movements, market shifts as well as clothing and garment production are fundamental to be reviewed and critically realigned during the creative stages.

Inter- and trans-disciplinary ventures, collaborative projects, crossover activities allow totally integrated units of study to extend design and fashion challenges. Connecting to fine art, popular culture and critical studies creatively, fashion and its design process is pushed to its ‘perceived’ boundaries thus ensuring an innovative statement with distinctive quality and value to industry and markets. This will be delivered to management through remarkable social skills, versatility, and professionalized communication tools as well as through the capacity to connect at speed.

Bachelor of Arts in Jewellery Jewellery is symbolic function and emotion through material and form in respect to the body. Adorning oneself is inherent to human nature; self-embellishment and the artefacts with which we shape our everyday offer us the opportunity to position ourselves within a certain sociological, historical and cultural reality. A focus on in-depth research pushing the boundaries of state-of-the-art digital and traditional technologies and materials, artistic sensibility and critical thinking, fosters new positions between craftsmanship, technology and society. Students are encouraged to question the known and explore the unfamiliar. Collaborations with the German Museum of Technology, Berlin (UNESCO commemorated project „Manufactory production and design of jewellery“), other design disciplines, visiting artists, design studios and brands and regional and international industry partners sharpen design and industry skills. International activity and exchange is nurtured through annual exhibitions in Munich, Eindhoven and Milan. Students are pushed and mentored to develop an individual creative position on jewellery and objects ranging from one-offs to serial production. Alumni are recognized as highly skilled designers with unique profiles, sensibilities and rigor in their professional practice, ranging from artists and small production studios to designers shaping industry.

Bachelor of Arts in Transportation Design The degree course is internationally recognized for its “excellence” and is considered to be one of the best worldwide. Its quality is reflected by its enviable reputation. The comprehensive and diverse course is is at present unique to Pforzheim and offers a strong focus on innovative and visionary design projects framed by industrial collaborations with automobile manufacturers throughout the world. It covers “transportation” in a broad perspective comprising public transport, mobile systems of organisation for land, sea and air travel, personal mobility products, new modern technologies and contemporary developments of mobility. The division of work and the associated specialisation integral to the design process in the large studios of the automotive industry place highly specific demands on the designer. Through the structure of the curriculum and the integration of theoretical and practical instruction (project-related alignment of the course contents), the degree programme caters specifically to these demands. Due to a cross-disciplinary provision of knowledge, which is strongly orientated around project work, the degree program in Pforzheim results in optimum professional employability.

Bachelor of Arts in Visual Communication In relation to culture, society and new technologies, Communication Design is not even an ever-expanding and shifting discipline, but is currently facing a major turn in both its vocational settings and conceptional applications. In response, the program covers three defined disciplines: Editorial Design, Advertising and Corporate Design, Digital Design including Motion Graphics, Spatial Design including Information Design.

The curriculum provides a broaden survey and understanding of its field and offers – at an advanced stage - specifications: various electives allows students to take an intense focus on specific areas of Communication Design. As hands-on, collaborative seminar and studio classes provide transferable skillsets, students are encouraged to participate in interdisciplinary activities and collaborations with internal and external partners.

Master of Arts in Creative Direction Building on their existing capabilities as designers, students who earn a Master of Arts in Creative Direction develop leadership qualities that go far beyond the competence of merely developing forms. Better design demands profound thought and a holistically conceived approach. Exploration of diverse theoretical approaches and emphatic practices are important elements in this course of studies.

Master of Arts in Transportation Design Having gained specialised skills and knowledge, including further development of their personal design identity, graduates of the course are able to instigate and direct projects, advanced or production with a high level of intellectual and creative rigor, as well as managing design teams and product presentation on a professional level. 

Master of Arts in Design & Future Making Through their passion and their striving for perfection, people who have earned the Master’s degree in MADFM ensure the excellent quality of products, integrate cultural aspects, and emphasize a high degree of originality. With an eye toward the future, these individuals contribute to the ongoing digital transformation by devising new concepts for usage, marketing and manufacturing. This Master’s program is primarily driven by its project structure. Excellent graduates who have earned Bachelor’s degrees in the disciplines of visual communication, product, fashion, accessories, jewellery or media design deep-en and enhance their individual design-related skills, conduct experiments, develop new design idioms and discover innovative solutions. Three essential factors share the focal point: the products’ aura of quality and value; digital transformation; and innovative design strategies. How does somthing “truly new” come into the world? Design Thinking, Design Strategy, Economic Systems and other methods are the fields of research and application that enable our graduates to perform tasks which are essential for the future. The MADFM draws upon the competencies of the School of Design and the university, uses the potential of the workshops and laboratories, and expands these possibilities through digital systems and tools. This leads to the creation of new design idioms and impulses that are relevant to changing values, to new concepts of usage and that reveal innovative perspectives.

Critical Studies in Art and Design Critical engagement and contextualizing practice are initial elements to analytically challenge a designer’s elastic and creative mind and to foster a process of staking one’s claims with intellectual rigor. Embarking from a variety of pertinent readings, students are encouraged to reflect, evaluate and critique classical theorems and controversial issues as conflicting hypotheses.

Multiple reflections of cultural and critical context from different angles generate paradigm shifts, change viewpoints, deepen understanding and express the embodiment of tacit and implicit experiences. This process critically leads toward conceptual design thinking methods and the applied integration of experimental know-ledge. The multifaceted perspectives are informed by semiotics, aesthetics, theories of creativity, theories of perception, cultural studies, sociological principles, art and design history, costume history and fashion theory.

Art and Design Studies Design PF offers a unique range of art-related core classes to all bachelor design students challenging the designers’ elastic and creative mind and fostering an engagement of intellectual, experimental and tacit rigor: through process-driven experiences, students are introduced to skills of visual and artistic practices, to principals of innovation and originality, to drivers of individual style and expression, to distinctive approaches towards methods, methodologies and creative paradigm shifts.

Vision, Mission and Values of Pforzheim University 

1. Vision: Leadership by changing perspectives 
Our vision expresses our desire to focus on the change in perspective as the main aim of our achievable reality. The strength of our vision will establish us as the leading university through our pursuit of education, learning, research and continuing education.
This vision is grounded in the belief that attitudes, awareness and actions of individuals are only part of the overall reality. Changing perspectives is fundamental for an understanding of diverse points of view and, thus, fundamental for solving complex challenges. Thereby, Pforzheim University will be acknowledged for its positive contribution to human togetherness and progress in an ever-changing world

2. Mission
Our mission statement defines the goals, purpose and endeavors of Pforzheim University and its Design, Engineering, Business and Law Schools towards a valuable contribution to the economy and society. 

We unite disciplines: We follow a distinct interdisciplinary approach where we consider complex future questions innovatively, responsibly and comprehensively and create our own solutions.

We share responsibility: We develop viable solutions for complex challenges and consider their impact on the economy and society while accepting responsibility for their impact.

We bridge borders: Pforzheim University is firmly rooted in the region and well connected on a national and international level. We educate our students as global thinkers for the worldwide labor market and invite participation in our programs and research from all over the world. 

We foster relationships: Our learning environment values the individuality of our students and guides them towards academic success through excellent supervision.

We shape business practice: We are a driving force in the discourse about future design, creative, economic and technological issues; we are sought-after experts for businesses, politics and society. 

We innovate together: Our education provides our students with the professional, methodical and social skills and competences for innovation and creativity while our research contributes novel scientific insights for the changing needs of business and society.

3. Values 
Our values are the lasting beliefs and ideals as well as the accepted standards of behavior at Pforzheim University. Throughout the year 2019 we will identify and define our values. All students and employees are invited to participate in this process of making Pforzheim University a place which offers students a model of personal responsibility and respectful concern for others.