art + argument was part of a multi-faceted event that took place at Progr in Bern on the 19 January to mark the end of the first semester of the MA Communication Design at the Hochschule der Künste Bern. A packed Progr reading room was introduced to the Communication Design course before the module leaders presented the semester work of each of the students in brief.
Next it was the turn of six brave MA students, barely out of their assessments, to debate the motion: Effective design must be radical. Mikael Oettli, Lea Siegwart and Ida Hegstad spoke for the motion, while Stansje Steiger, Patrick Savolainen and Matthias Zumbrunnen opposed it. The students speaking for the motion presented radical design as an essential appreciation of the nature of things, a decisive force that pushes away from the repetitions of tradition. Radical design breaks through this; it is the designer’s responsibility to be radical and contribute to the advancement of design. Their opponents demonstrated that radical design was an activity for outliers who are not interested in speaking to and for a larger community. The obsessive nature of radicalism means it is unwilling to compromise as is necessary for effective communication.
The ensuing discussion covered, amongst many topics, the possibility or impossibility of radicalism, what is entailed in effective design, for whom design is created and the benefits of innovation.
A closing vote for which side put the more convincing arguments was, for the first time in art + argument history, a dead heat. At Progr the debate was followed by an apéro during which the students’ work could be viewed; the event closed with two student performances.
Many thanks to the HKB and the Communication Design course for the invitation to hold a debate during this event, and particularly to the students who were willing to try debating. Please remember that the opinions expressed were purely hypothetical and do not represent the students’ true opinions!