Formulating identity



Communication design embedded in the experimental development of a new study format

#StudioIntegrativeDesign #Master-Thesis

To understand identity as something visible means to understand that how and what we communicate begins with ourselves - and not with the reception of any supposed message. Our appearance communicates before we even speak.

"man ist so wie man sich zeigt, und wie man sich zeigt, so ist man."
- Otl Aicher

In Ivana Jovic's master thesis she assists the process of experimental development of a new study format at the College of Social Work FHNW in Olten and Basel - the idea is that each individual in the "Freiform" (freeform) organizes both him- or herself and the contents of the study in close cooperation with the community. Her thesis is a complex project that covers several of her main areas of interest: the combination of language and form, the design of visual identities, as well as alternative forms of study and transdisciplinary, integrative and experimental development processes. The overall theme of this work is the question of identity formation and the formulation of an attitude that she wants to consider from the perspective of the analyzing, structuring, and socially critical, designer.

In visual rhetoric, she finds a theoretical approach to her thoughts and an investigation technique that describes visual interrelationships. In the context of graphic design, she deals with impact-oriented communication, the viewing patterns of the mainstream and the collective understanding of design elements. What is presented and how it is presented is equally primary to the overall idea.

"Die Art und Weise der Formgebung wirkt sich stets verändernd auf den wahrgenommenen Inhalt aus und Inhalte sind niemals ohne spezifische Form gestaltbar. Gerade die Sensibilität für die engen Verwebungen von Inhalt und Form, Text, Bild und Fläche macht gekonntes Grafikdesign aus."
(The way in which design is executed is always changing the perceived content, and content can never be designed without a specific form. The sensitivity for the close interweaving of content and form, text, image and surface is what makes for skillful graphic design.) - Annina Schneller

Her master's thesis shows a versatile and multi-layered process, which can not necessarily be regarded as concluded - subsequently, Ivana will create communication media for the "Freiform", based on the elaborated formulations and shapes. From April 2019 onwards she will continue to accompany the communication of the new course format both from within and from an outsider's position until the start of the pilot study form. During this time she will track and develop the experiment of the digital knowledge body.

Insights from and for designerly praxis

Content and form are developed hand in hand and determine each other. What and how we communicate is linked to each other and forms an expression or impression alike. There is no neutral form. When this becomes a precondition of the design process, communication can be designed clearer and its impact more precisely controlled.


Dr. Christine Schranz

, Studio Integrative Design

Dr. des. Annina Schneller

, Philosopher, design researcher and lecturer – HKB