A racist diary and kingfishers

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Exhibition 2024 © Anna Wenger
Exhibition 2024 © Anna Wenger

The Werkschau is the celebrated graduation of a design, film or art course at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. This year’s graduation exhibition focuses on works on the subject of digitality.

Lina Haag and Valerie Bachmann developed an app for people suffering from postpartum depression (PPD) for their bachelor’s thesis in the Digital Ideation degree program. The condition is still considered a taboo subject and has been little researched, although it affects over 20 percent of women and over ten percent of fathers. The symptoms of PPD include depressive moods, anxiety, sleep disorders and suicidal thoughts.

The work of Lina Haag and Valerie Bachmann can be seen from June 22 to June 30, 2024 at the Design Film Kunst exhibition, together with around 280 other works by graduates of the department.

Haag, who is majoring in design, and Bachmann, whose focus is on IT, contacted the Swiss Postpartum Depression Association (soon to be Periparto Switzerland). They were met with such an open ear that the association not only provided them with contacts, but also wanted to develop their idea further.

In their discussions with those affected, Haag and Bachmann looked for patterns and commonalities in the course of a PPD in order to analyze the causes of the illness, identify the central problem and recognize possible solutions. "It often helps those affected to realize that they are not alone in their situation," says Haag. That’s why they can use the app to search for mentors who can share their experiences with PPD in video and audio formats, talk about the course of their illness and their symptoms and give tips on what has helped them to get well again. After their studies, Bachmann and Haag want to perfect the app so that it can be integrated into the association’s support services and those affected can search directly for the right offer for them or contact a sponsor.

The work of Lina Haag and Valerie Bachmann will be presented at the exhibition in the foyer of the Lucerne School of Art and Design in Emmenbrücke. All works from the Digital Ideation and Data Design + Art degree programs are on display in the foyer, as digitality is at the heart of both degree programs and a focus of the department’s work.

Data is the resource of the 21st century. In the Bachelor of Data Design & Art, which is unique in Europe, students learn how to communicate large amounts of data and complex interrelationships to the general public. The implementation takes the form of graphics, sculptures, VR installations or soundscapes, for example. hslu.ch/data-design-art

Students work in interdisciplinary teams to develop projects that combine technology, design and future-oriented thinking. They choose a specialization - computer science for tech-savvy students or design for creative designers - and create digital solutions with added social value. You will later work as a game designer/developer, graphic designer, UX designer, interaction designer or web designer/developer. hslu.ch/digital-ideation

In addition, the department intends to devote more attention to the topics of "Sustainability" and "Culture of Trust" by 2026. Selected works that deal with these topics will be highlighted at the exhibition. The key topics are also of central importance to society, as Jacqueline Holzer, Director of the Department of Design Film Art, says. "When our students show their skills to the general public, they also prove how relevant their topics are for the future of society."

The final projects of the design, film and art students can be seen from June 22 to June 30, 2024 at the Design Film Kunst exhibition. Our small sample illustrates the diversity of the works on display.

Bachelor Design Management, International: Help for helpers

In her Bachelor’s thesis in Design Management, International, Natascha Haller from Meilen ZH examines the situation of couples who want children but are unable to have them. Ten to fifteen percent of all couples in Switzerland are confronted with this problem. Haller came across the topic on social media a few years ago. It caught her attention because those affected talked very personally and openly about their problem. The stories always touched her deeply. "When I was looking for a topic for my bachelor’s degree, I immediately thought of it again," says 22-year-old Haller. Because the Design Management, International degree course looks for solutions to a problem that everyone involved can identify with, it made sense to involve not only the couples concerned, but also people from their social environment in the considerations.

As a child, she always imagined becoming a mother and having children herself, Haller explains. She didn’t realize that the seemingly "most natural thing in the world" can be extremely problematic and painful for many couples. People from close social circles could exacerbate the problem by repeatedly asking couples they are friends with: "When are you going to have children?"

First Natascha Haller spoke to couples themselves, then she interviewed a mental coach to understand what kind of support is important from a professional point of view. Finally, she talked to people from her close social environment, interviewed them, presented them with questionnaires, which she later evaluated, and explored with them in a workshop what would help them to better support affected couples.

Based on this, Haller developed two design strategies: Firstly, a toolkit for those affected and their caregivers, which sets out principles for communication and support and uses question cards to stimulate conversation about the desire to have children. The second is a digital handbook for caregivers that provides information about the problem in text and film.
After her studies, Natascha Haller would like to travel and work abroad. She would then like to work in the field of organizational design. She could imagine pursuing her Bachelor’s project further if she finds someone who can support her with medical and psychological expertise.

Anna Wenger, 23, from Spiegel near Bern is working on a non-fiction book for adults on the subject of bionics as her bachelor’s thesis in the Illustration Nonfiction course. Bionics (a portmanteau of biology and technology) deals with the transfer of natural phenomena to technology. The idea of the book is to illustrate various animals such as the shark, the boxfish or the blue morpho butterfly and to show how their abilities or attributes can be used technically. Anna Wenger is currently concentrating on the kingfisher in order to try out various implementation options and test the limits of illustration as a medium.

To get to know the kingfisher in its habitat, Anna Wenger went on an excursion to the Klingnau reservoir. She has now drawn the beautiful animal in various postures. It becomes clear how much its appearance changes, whether its blue cover feathers shimmer above or behind or whether its red-brown belly glows below.

Anna Wenger also illustrates several bionic uses in her drawings. One illustration, for example, shows how the blue bird is almost invisible against a blue lake or a blue sky because its iridescent plumage adapts to the light conditions. Wenger therefore suggests designing blue iridescent camouflage clothing.
After her studies, she would like to add more animal illustrations to the book in order to expand her portfolio and gain work as a freelance illustrator.

Elena Ottavi from Mendrisio completed her bachelor’s degree in graphic design and art direction at the NABA (Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti) in Milan in 2019. She then worked in communication and advertising. Three years ago, she founded the creative agency STTVDIO.CH, where she combines graphic design and animation.

Her final project in the Master Animation program is a colorful, English-language, digitally animated 2D short film entitled "Racist Journal" (duration: 4:31 minutes). Ottavi’s core thesis: Racism is so deeply rooted that it has become an invisible, integral part of society. All white people are simply racists, she says, because they are products of a racist society that has educated them accordingly. Even if they themselves believe they are not racist.

To illustrate this, Ottavi follows a day in the life of Andrea in "Racist Journal" - the name is deliberately chosen, as it could conceal both a man and a woman. In one day, from turning off the alarm clock in the morning to going to bed in the evening, Andrea reflects on racist behavior in a stream of consciousness. The monologue plays with clichés of discrimination and attempts to make viewers rethink not only the narrative, but also their perception of themselves and others. Specific keywords such as "Racist" or "Discrimination" are set and animated in the film in a very eye-catching, playful typography.

Elena Ottavi’s motivation for the film, she says, stems from her time in Milan. "I often witnessed heartbreaking scenes on the train across the border. For example, when refugee children hid trembling under the seat to get through customs. But the most frightening thing was the reaction of the locals: "They did nothing, sometimes even mocking the refugees instead of helping them," says Ottavi. "I didn’t do anything either."

Exhibition Design Film Art 2024 of the final theses of Bachelor’s and Master’s graduates (excluding Master’s in Art):

Location: 745 Viscosistadt, Lucerne-Emmenbrücke

Vernissage: Fri, June 21, 6:30 pm

Exhibition: Sat, June 22 to Sun, June 30, 2024; 12 to 7 p.m.; Sun, June 30, until 6 p.m.

Complete program, current information for visitors as well as pictures and descriptions of all final works.

The exhibition and the supporting program are free of charge.

Author: Valeria Heintges
Pictures: Anna Wenger
Films: Sonja Berta
Published on June 19, 2024