The research projects at FSP KD examine forms of designed communication in the following five research areas: ‘Knowledge Visualisation’, ‘Social Communication’ (with the BFH working group ‘Health Care Communication Design’), ‘Environmental Communication Design’, ‘Design and Rhetoric’ and ‘Design History’.

Knowledge Visualization

The projects in the research area ‘Knowledge Visualisation’ examine the visualisation of data and information and the design of interfaces. The focus is on the visualisation of qualitative data: patient processes, exhibitions or interviews are visualised in a new way – with the aim of learning something new about the body of data and the hidden phenomena it contains. Partners from business and the public services use the collaboration with HKB to find out more about their own data, its context and the interests of their customers and clients. The results continuously feed into the research-based teaching on the CAS Data Visualisation programme.

Core competencies

  • Innovative visualisation of quantitative and qualitative data.
  • Running of workshops to teach employees about the use of visual phenomena in dealing with data.
  • Management of complex research processes in the field of knowledge visualisation.
  • Practice-based research in all areas of knowledge visualisation.

Jimmy Schmid
Fabienne Kilchör

Social Communication

‘Social Communication’ examines communication issues in the public sector, education, development and healthcare from the perspective of communication design. The focus here is on understanding the influences, possibilities and limitations of visual communication as part of wider processes such as migration, disease or education and assessing the effects of design interventions. The result is a series of practical projects: for example, a logo for a youth group, a guide to communicating with patients with aphasia and guidelines on designing hospital information brochures. Research projects relating to the public health services are generally carried out in the interdisciplinary working group Health Care Communication Design.
Core competencies

  • Feedback on visual communication of partners in the public sector, education, development and healthcare.
  • Inspection and visual analysis of premises used by the public sector and healthcare institutions.
  • Intervention to improve institutions’ communication.
  • Experience of a range of design research methods: visual analyses, participatory observation, interviews, cultural probes, rhetorical design analysis according to the Bern model, etc.
  • Practice-based research in all areas of social communication.

Minou Afzali

BFH working group Health Care Communication Design

The interdisciplinary ‘Health Care Communication Design’ (HCCD) team brings together researchers from a range of disciplines – Design, Healthcare, Business, Architecture and Engineering/Information Technology. Research examines areas in the health professions where design meets communication, architecture, IT infrastructures and work structuring and looks at questions related to organisation, processes and culture.

The partners and target markets for this research are the public sector and private business in the form of organisations, hospitals, consultancies, architectural firms and educational facilities. Previous project partners have included Curaviva, the Inselspital Bern University Hospital and college M Bern.

Core competencies

  • Development, realisation, support and supervision of individual research projects.
  • Training measures.
  • Support for hospital planning processes and change processes.
  • Cultural and organisational development at the interface of design.
  • IT strategy planning.
  • International research collaboration via our partner networks.

Arne Scheuermann
Minou Afzali

Environmental Communication Design

‘Environmental Communication Design’ examines the interaction between communication design and the environment, particularly the architectural environment. The focus is on questions related to signage, in other words wayfinding and information systems, as well as on the effect of colours in the environment, the interplay between environment and displays/
devices, and the design of architectural processes. The research area is closely linked to BFH’s Master of Advanced Studies in Signage – Environmental Communication Design and HKB’s MA in Design.

Core competencies

  • Expert reports and studies on signage (wayfinding and information systems) and communication design within a specific environment.
  • Consultancy and support for complex bidding processes from preparing the briefing to awarding the contract.
  • Visual analysis of environments in the public sector, private business and healthcare institutions: inspection, documentation, analysis, advice.
  • Development and tailored application of design research methods: visual analyses, participatory observation, interviews, cultural probes, rhetorical design analysis according to the Bern model, etc.

Jimmy Schmid

Design and Rhetoric

Thousands of years old, the phenomenon of rhetoric holds tremendous potential when it comes to concepts for describing and implementing effective communication. The research area ‘Design and Rhetoric’ makes use of these rhetorical models to explore the practice of communication design. The projects in this research area widen the rhetorical view of communication design to cover its diverse effects. Rhetoric is understood here as the art of persuasion in the broadest sense: when evaluating communicative impact, we do not restrict ourselves to blatant advertising posters but also examine the subtle signage used in public transport or the simple stationery of a law firm.

Core competencies

  • Rhetorical design analysis according to the Bern model.
  • History and theory of visual rhetoric, design rhetoric and media rhetoric.
  • Practice-based research in all fields of visual design.
  • Empirical observation of impact models and normative aesthetics in design.

Arne Scheuermann

Design History

Design History examines the original context, production, communication, consumption and impact of design and the associated discourse. As such, it not only helps shape design practice but gives design a meaning and contributes to our understanding of human culture. 

The research area ‘Design History’ examines design as a cultural phenomenon. Previous focus areas have included Swiss graphic design, interaction between visual culture and national identity, visual forms of history writing, visual communication and subculture, and the impact of design history on design practice. Theories and methods of documentary, literary, exhibition and discourse analysis are used with textual, visual and relational materials.

Core competencies

  • Consultation and support for processing and archiving lifetime and posthumous bequests.
  • Historical studies for design and innovation.
  • Authoring and peer reviewing articles for print and online media with a design history focus. 
  • Planning, organisation and realisation of publications, exhibitions, conferences and workshops on topics relating to design history.
  • Provenance research.

Robert Lzicar