Our study programme offers the highest educational level in its field in Norway and qualifies to apply for admission as a research fellow at the PhD level.

As a student at the Department of Design you will learn far more than to develop well-designed and functional products. Forward-looking design is also about creating change, realising potential and making a difference. Tomorrow’s designers are as much creators of possibilities as they are designers, as much problem analysts as problem solvers. Together with our students we address both major and minor design issues and come up with good and bold suggestions for answers through research and experimentation. By alternating between creation and reflection, question and comment, students develop new insights and are encouraged to challenge established truths. 

Our academic staff and students come from different international backgrounds. We cooperate with other leading design institutes and regularly attend international design conferences and exhibitions all around the world.

At the same time, the department is firmly rooted in the rugged country of Norway’s west coast and influenced by access to local natural resources.

The department fosters a culture of generosity and sharing. A living environment for design relies on everyone’s courage and willingness to experiment. Student projects are highlighted through joint exhibitions and reviews. Much of the time you will be on your way toward something, and there is plenty of room for trial and error.

We look at new students as creative human beings who come to us with their unique experiences and aspirations. Perhaps you would like to work across design disciplines or link design to other subject areas? Or would you like to specialise in a particular design area? Already during your bachelor’s studies you can work out an individual education plan. We want to send you out into the world with a well-developed ability to create, reflect and contribute to society with qualified opinions and good design solutions.

BA in Design

Our bachelor’s programme gives you a solid working knowledge as a designer and insight into how good design can meet the essential needs of individuals and society as a whole.

A designer views the environment with a different eye, develops ideas, visualises, gives shape to the abstract and renders it concrete. Being a designer is largely about being creative, breaking barriers and thinking unconventionally.

The BA programme is divided into two areas of specialisation: the first is Furniture and Spatial Design/Interior Architecture, the second is Visual Communication. This three-year course of study can be followed up with a two-year master’s degree. The programme provides you with basic design skills and an introduction to form and colour, spatial understanding and aesthetics. You will learn how to create experiences and products, solve challenges or excite wonder and reflection.

 

See installation images from the Bachelor's exhibition in Design 2018 (click the image below to open image gallery) Photographer: Jane Sverdrupsen

In the course of a semester you will work on projects lasting from one week to several months.

Learning is based on experimentation and discussion. Much of your theoretical knowledge will be developed through hands-on experience in the workshops, followed up by teaching and instruction in relevant theory. You will attend lectures and workshops, often held by international guest lecturers who are pioneers in their field. Together with other students you also have the opportunity to do field work and visit other institutions.

Overconsumption is a major challenge in our part of the world. At the Department of Design we are committed to promoting an inclusive and sustainable society. A modern designer is mindful of renewable materials, environmentally friendly manufacturing methods and fair treatment of all the people in the production chain. At the same time, our programme leaves ample room for the aesthetic experience of design as a value in itself.

As mentioned above, our BA programme is divided into two areas of specialisation for which you can apply: either Furniture and Spatial Design/Interior Architecture or Visual Communication.

MA in Design

The Master’s Programme in Design is an interdisciplinary study programme that allows design students to immerse themselves more deeply in a self-chosen topic.

Your application for the MA programme consists of a description of your future master’s project at the department. This consists of a more extensive, independent and experimental design project you will work with throughout the two years until your final exam.

An essential part of the MA curriculum is based on professional dialogue and discussions with other design students and tutors. You will also be introduced to new and stimulating professional meeting places, and you will often work across established professional boundaries.

Your daily life as an MA student consists of independent work and work in smaller groups, lectures, courses and workshops. The Department of Design admits a small group of master’s students every year, allowing for close contact between academic staff and students.

 

Periodically, you will present your project orally and in writing, and learn how to convincingly talk and write about your work. Exhibitions will be held in connection with semester assessments. Here you will also have the opportunity to develop your skills in visual and oral communication.

Your studies will allow you to explore the role of designer. You will also gain important experience in what creates momentum and brings creativity to project collaborations with other designers and design users. This helps you lay the foundation for managing larger design projects.

Our Master’s Programme in Design has an international profile. The language of instruction is English and the student body is composed of different nationalities. As a master’s student you have a good chance of entering an exchange student programme, also to institutions abroad. Since the exchange programme is an integrated part of your studies, you will not be delayed in your study progress.

The study programme concludes with a larger public exhibition.

Specialisation

Our BA programme is divided into two areas of specialisation for which you can apply: either Furniture and Spatial Design/Interior Architecture or Visual Communication. The Master’s Programme in Design is interdisciplinary.

Furniture and Spatial Design/Interior Architecture

Our BA programme with specialisation in Furniture and Spatial Design/Interior Architecture is an extensive course of study under continuous development. We are systematically looking beyond traditional professional boundaries to find new, relevant and exciting contributors.

The first year of your studies will provide you with a basic knowledge of form, materials, light, colour, spatial understanding, ergonomics, universal design and construction. You will learn how to use the necessary tools. This will lay the foundation for future independent project work. In the course of your studies, increasing focus is given to people, environment and society.

Norwegian design is international design. This is why the department has a close affiliation with professional environments abroad. Since 2002, our faculty members and students have shown their works and designed exhibitions in Bergen, Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Helsinki, London, Cologne, Berlin, Seoul and Milan. This offers you a unique opportunity to experience the connection between your own work and the huge field of design outside the department.

 Once you have been admitted to the programme, you have the opportunity to specialise in either Furniture Design or Spatial Design/Interior Architecture during your last semester.

Specialisation in Furniture Design

As a furniture designer, you influence human behaviour. Therefore, knowledge of furniture and the user’s situation and experience are important to your studies. Form, function, use of materials and ergonomics become important concepts to relate to.

At the department, we particularly examine the functional quality of furniture and objects for the user in the spaces and situations in which they are intended. In addition to furniture, students can work with lamps, railings, shelves and other objects and tools that surround us.

Mass production and consumption is one of the major environmental threats in modern society. You will therefore be challenged to critically reflect on your choice of materials and production methods in designing furniture and objects.

With a focus on reflection through practical experimentation, we will prepare you to participate and contribute to the subject area design and society in general with relevant practical and theoretical knowledge.

    

Specialisation in Spatial Design and Interior Architecture

The specialisation Spatial Design and Interior Architecture is about creating spaces that take into account both function and experience.

The physical environment affects human beings and their behaviour. Therefore, a major point of emphasis is that you as a student develop solutions based on a thorough understanding of the user’s needs in different situations. During the course of your studies, you will gain knowledge about form, architecture, colour, lighting, materials, acoustics, ergonomics, construction and universal design, in addition to methods, processes and communication. In our workshops, you will work in full scale and with models, you will explore materials and test techniques or work with sketches and drawings, both physically and digitally.

Recent years have witnessed major changes in technology, society and culture. At the same time we are facing threats to our climate and environment that must be solved in all parts of society. As a student at the Department of Design you will be challenged to shed light on these issues. Through critical reflection, formal skills, comprehensive understanding and creative innovation, we want you to take part in developing good and sustainable solutions in spatial design and interior architecture. Your willingness to experiment is highly encouraged.

Visual Communication

In our multicultural society, in which people increasingly move between national borders and verbal or cultural languages no longer are necessarily shared by all, visual communication is more important than ever.

Today, visual communication is associated with both physical surfaces, digital media, audio, space and motion. The subject area embraces a nearly unlimited expressive repertoire and allows you as a student great freedom to define your role as a practicing designer. The goal of visual communication may be to communicate messages or create reactions, but it can also be used to comment, to create dialogue and reflection, or to provoke. You are challenged to develop a critical attitude and dare define your own agenda. 

Our curriculum is varied and interdisciplinary. We might invite a dancer to one of our workshops when the subject is empathy and pictograms, an anthropologist when discussing how to define regional identity, and a philosopher when talking about consumer society and technology or speculating about fictional realities.

Our study programme includes everything from letter design to visual identity, editorial design, illustration, character development, drawing, motion graphics and interaction. A fundamental understanding of the subject area’s basic principles is essential in order to break established norms and tear down barriers. The programme qualifies to apply for authorisation by Grafill – the Norwegian Organisation for Visual Communication.

 Once you have been admitted to the programme, you have the opportunity to further specialise in either graphic design or illustration, but you can also combine both subjects to gain expertise in the use of interaction design.

Specialisation in Graphic Design
As a graphic designer, you can choose from a wide range of surfaces to project your ideas, and your work will equally involve two and three dimensions, physical and digital spaces. At times you will create experiences and elicit reactions through writing and letters alone, other times by using abstract shapes or photography. Whether your work involves posters, packaging, signs, walls, objects, books or newspapers, or media such as apps, web pages or movies, typography, images, graphic elements, colours, textures, air – all these can be combined to evoke emotions and communicate visually.

A graphic designer puts much energy into working with contrasts and composition, filled surfaces and empty spaces, elements that vibrate between presence and absence, visible and invisible. As a student you will be encouraged to experiment with different forms of expression and reflect on and convey messages using graphic design. Our projects deal with everything from social inequality to environmental challenges, but can also be motivated by the wish to comment on something, the need to protest, or the desire to create an aesthetic experience.

 

Specialisation in Illustration
Illustration is the visualisation of ideas and communication of stories. Good illustrations often have an interpretive function that expands on the story or the message. Illustrations can be communicated using either analogue or digital tools, and our department can boast of an expert teaching staff who live and breathe for the subject.

As an illustrator, you work with visual expression for many different types of media and surfaces, and you can use both still and/or moving illustrations. Our students’ work includes everything from classical illustrations in children’s books to site-specific illustrations, digital applications and fanzines.

Every other year, the Department of Design hosts Visibility, an international conference that addresses the role and potential of illustration in society. We invite a unique group of the world’s finest and most socially engaged illustrators who also hold workshops for students and the academic community. As a student, you will have an unprecedented opportunity to build networks, learn, and let yourself be inspired.

 

 

Admissions and Assessment

Admission to our bachelor’s or master’s programme is based on an entrance test and a selection interview. Here, we focus on the potential, commitment and willingness to develop yourself as well as your discipline. Once you are admitted as a student, you will submit an overview of your work at the end of each semester, followed by a written reflection on your learning outcome. Whilst the MA is taught in English, students at BA levels must master a Scandinavian language.

Assessment in the form of pass/not pass is decided on the basis of the submitted overview and a conversation with each student. We use eight assessment criteria, one of which is experimentation. In this way, we ensure that you as a student are rewarded by showing the will to explore the subject and challenge yourself.

Workshops

Much learning in design subjects is achieved by thinking with your hands. The department has a number of workshops where you will be trained in using the necessary tools – everything from a Risograph to a laser cutter to a wood milling machine. Here you can experiment and explore the properties and qualities of the materials. This is an arena for experiential knowledge, such as the relationship between wood and sound, or paper and light.

A total of 32 workshops are housed at Møllendalsveien 61. Every workshop has a workshop technician with special expertise in the tools and equipment/machines provided.

Exchange Programmes

If you are interested in applying to the Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design as an exchange student, see our Student Exchange page at uib.no.

For students at the Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design: To learn more about applying as an exchange student abroad, see the page for students.

Incubator for Young Designers

The Bergen Design Incubator is a collaboration between Bergen Municipality, UiB and USF to call attention to and bolster the design expertise in the region. Here, recent graduates have the opportunity to establish their own business and come into contact with businesses and other key actors. The Incubator is located at USF Verftet, an art arena which houses a number of enterprises working within design, film and other cultural industries.

 Among other things, participants in the Incubator receive a subsidised, furnished work space and access to a stimulating professional environment and an extended network.

Applications can be submitted by anyone who has completed the equivalent of a master’s degree in relevant subject areas from recognised educational institutions at home or abroad during the last three years. Maternity leave, periods of illness and similar will be taken into account. You must have a concrete idea for establishing a professional design-related enterprise or carrying out a design-related project. You must also be a resident of Bergen during your time at the Design Incubator.

Former designers who have been allotted a work space in the Incubator include graphic designer and illustrator Torp Torpe, furniture designers Vera Kleppe and Åshild Kyte (Vera & Kyte), furniture designer Morten Skjærpe Knarrum, visual communicator Sunniva Storlykken Helland, and illustrator Åshild Kahnstad Johnsen.