Design PF

Lara Zettl

at HECAL École cantonale d'art de Lausanne, Switzerland

The student of B.A. in Visual Communication about her semester abroad

(147) Aucune liste n'est complète.—La voie graphique
147 commandements de Dimitri Bruni & Manuel Krebs  (I agree :))


Grüetzi, Salut, Ciao, Allegra—There are four official languages in Switzerland. In Lausanne, you mostly use french, as its one of the francophone cantons. Situated right on the border of the Lac Léman or Lake Geneva one has a beautiful view of the french alps, even the high summits of Grand Combin and Mont Blanc are visible from some places.  Lake Geneva holds also other curiosities…There are over 40 shipwrecks, plus six railway carriages from the mid to late 19th century, plenty of sailboats, motorboats, three aeroplanes, traces of prehistoric shore settlements and more. Not the only curiosity in Switzerland.

ECAL—Since visiting ECAL on a student trip to Switzerland in the second semester with Prof. Alice Chi, I wanted to go there for an exchange. It is well known for its Graphic Design sector, with professors like Nicole Udry (Most beautiful Swiss books), Diego Bontognali (Bonbon) and  Aurèle Sack (Lineto). Since 2007, Ecal is situated in Renens, outside of Lausanne’s city center in a former factory, converted by architect Bernard Tschumi. 

With its 17,000 m² building, ECAL is super huge compared to the Hochschule Pforzheim. On four floors it has three auditoriums, a film studio, four photo studios, 24 assembly booths, a model workshop, a big library, a material library and a cafetaria. So when coming to Ecal for the first time can be very impressing but also intimidating, confronted by so many visual impressions.

I was astonished by the printing center dedicated to students, which brings together a print shop (offset press and bindery), plotters, inkjet and laser printers, and workshops for screen printing, lithography and engraving on almost 900 m². Here the students can print all their publications, poster, images, etc. themselves. It is also a good opportunity to go through the whole process of making a book, from the sketch until the finishing in the bookbinding Atelier. 

The variety of formations reaches from the Année Propédeutique, Arts Visuels, Design Industriel over Design Graphique and Type Design, Media & Interaction Design and Photographie to Cinéma and Design for Luxury & Craftsmanship. In Switzerland you study in years, not in semesters, this is important to know when coming to Ecal for an exchange semester, because some courses in the summer semester are based on former one’s in the winter semester. 

La vie quotidienne—As I joined my new classmates in the second half of the second year (4th semester) we did not really have so much daily life beside of Ecal. At first, I could not really believe how to manage nine projects at the same time. The courses reached from editorial design, typography, information design, corporate and identity design, over a film project and some theoretical courses. My level of productivity and tempo had to rise for this exchange a lot. Especially within my editorial project I could surpass myself and learned a lot of new things. In the first year of Ecal, the students have even more projects, which is challenging but can also resonate in experimentation and productivity. 

En bref–Especially when the pressure became great, my classmates helped me a lot. I was so grateful for this internal cohesion. At Ecal one shares a big motivation for graphic design and in a good way that is very contagious. Altogether, this exchange was very fruitful in understanding a different point within designing. I was astonished how deeply one can go into the detail, visual conception and production. I think for my further creative voyage this experience will stay very important to me. 

At the end of the semester I had some time to enjoy the beautiful lakes and mountains around Lausanne. In summer this city is very beautiful and you can swim and rent a boat on the Lac Léman, and  have some good apéritifs with your friends.