PhD - Design and Aesthetics for Service

Deadline: 01.03.2023

Oslo School of Architecture and Design

The Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO) is an internationally leading, specialized university within the disciplines design, architecture, landscape architecture and urbanism. AHO offers a unique research-based education of international standing. Established in 1945, today it has built a solid national funding base and is prominently ranked internationally. AHO awards three Master’s degrees in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Design, as well as a PhD programme. AHO offers Master’s degree programmes that are designed to best equip the student to enter directly into professional practice or academia. Within the Master’s programmes, students may specialise in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture and urbanism, industrial design, interaction design, service and systems-oriented design. In its education, the school follows a studio-based model with a low faculty-to-student ratio that encourages individual development and collaboration. The school has approximately 800 students and 270 employees wich amounts to 160 person-years.

The Institute of Design (IDE) at AHO is one of the leading Nordic design-institutions. The Institute of Design is responsible for AHO’s 5-year integrated Master-programme in Design and has a broad portfolio of research projects that connects across disciplines and domains. The institute takes a broad, holistic approach to design that emphasizes the relevance and importance of design within contemporary society.

Our perspective is that good design creates aesthetic and functional products, services and experiences that delight and improve the lives of people and contribute to a sustainable future. The institute develops research and teaching within and across the fields of industrial design, interaction design, service design, and systems oriented design. IDE collaborates closely with industry, public sector and governance, and is an important actor in research- and innovation-projects. The institute has an extensive international and national network across industry and academia, covering both the growing digital sector, as well as established areas such as healthcare, maritime industry, future-studies and innovation, and service development in the public and private sector. AHO’s design alumni are found in leading design studios and consultancies, in tech-companies, in industry, in research and innovation projects, as well as in policy and governance. The Institute of Design is internationally recognized and highly ranked; projects from the institute are frequently represented in national and international design awards.

It is central for us that we develop and maintain a staff with a diverse and balanced mix of gender, age and social and cultural background. Women and persons with a minority background are particularly encouraged to apply for this position. AHO is eager to support career development.

About the position

The Institute of Design at The Oslo School of Architecture and Design announces a fully funded four year PhD position for the period 2023-2026 to explore and contribute to design and aesthetics for service. The aim of the PhD research is to contribute to the emerging discourse on aesthetics in the field of Service Design and in particular to apply this to service design practice.

Services account for 78.89 % of employment in Norway and the field of service design has become well established, with AHO being a leading institution in the field. However, the theme of aesthetics in service design is under researched, particularly in terms of understanding the aesthetics of service and how this can be supported through design practice and pedagogy. This call requests research proposals that will examine and develop the field of applied aesthetics for the field of service design. It aims to build aesthetics theory within service design, to explore aesthetics theory through designing for service, and to develop principles for service design through approaches, methods or tools. The PhD must be able to position aesthetic practice and analysis in a cultural and theoretical landscape that crosses over a range of design disciplines.

The Ph.D. project will be tightly connected with the upcoming research projects run by the service design group. This can be made through hands-on research through design case studies or participatory action research. By connecting the Ph.D. thesis with the ongoing projects assures that the thesis is connected with AHO´s broader research strategies and those of direct concern for service design. e.g. experientiality, culture, social services and service systems.

We envisage a three phased project, starting with the creation of a platform of literature regarding aesthetics and relevant concepts for service design. Based upon this platform, we would expect research through design to explore these concepts through the development and application of methods, tools and techniques. This would then be reflected upon, to both provide an updated aesthetic platform and possible methods, tools and techniques. The project will supervised by the group’s research team and where relevant, might use relevant cases from ongoing research projects at the institute (see designresearch.no).

The PhD would be situated with the service design group at IDE and will contribute to a broader initiative at the institute within the field of aesthetics and design. As such the PhD will build upon existing research such as the Design Aesthetics for Interactive Digital Design, Designing for Popular Cultural Service Experience, Exploring Sacred Service Design and other related research.

The PhD could include themes such as:• Design and aesthetics for experience and engagement• Design and aesthetics for service• Design and aesthetics as part of meaningful offerings and interactions• Design support to embed aesthetics in the design process• Speculative service design as a way to explore the design aesthetics of service• Aesthetics craft in service design

The Institute of Design is one of the leading institutions in service design and we see it is as essential to fund such research on aesthetics to evolve and strengthen our position. Aesthetics and form-giving are at the core of AHO’s pedagogy as well as being central in the research performed at the school.

The PhD will articulate and develop a fundamental expertise and pedagogy thus contributing to a strengthening of the school’s core values and activities. It will also address within the European Union the transition of Industry 4.0 to Industry 5.0 that focuses on human centred strategies (European Commission, 2022). Aesthetics in service design has relevance across the disciplines of design as well as in architecture, landscape and urbanism and we encourage collaboration across the school as part of the PhD.Teaching at Master and Bachelor level is considered to be an important part of developing and communicating research at AHO, and this PhD is a four year PHD, where one year is devoted to teaching.


We seek applicants from the design fields with a practice-oriented background relevant to the theme of this call, who will be comfortable carrying out research through design. The applicant must demonstrate the ability to articulate and argue for their research proposal in the application and interviews.

  • The candidate should have a master degree in service design, interaction design, industrial design, graphical design or equivalent
  • The candidate should deliver a portfolio demonstrating competence in design
  • The candidate should describe past experience with academic writing and presentations

The application must include:

  • An application letter describing relevant background, motivation, research experience and network. (Maximum two A4 pages)
  • A project proposal outline of maximum 5 pages, formulating and discussing research tasks, types of problems and methodology
  • A Curriculum Vitae of maximum 4 pages. (The CV may provide links to additional online resources demonstrating your capabilities or other relevant sources)
  • Certified copies of educational certificates, transcript of records, diplomas and letters of recommendation
  • List of publications and/or academic work
  • 2 references (name, relation to candidate, e-mail address and telephone number)

All documentation must be in English or a Scandinavian language. Applications who do not fulfil the formal requirements will not be considered. Attachments beyond the required documents will not be taken into consideration.

What we assess

The material for the PhD application will be assessed according to the following criteria:

  • The quality of the project description (proposal outline)
  • The applicant's suitability for the research tasks
  • The academic competence of the applicant

We offer

The PhD scholarship is fully funded and there is no tuition fee. The salary is NOK 501 200 for a full position, with 3 % increase of the salary each year. From the salary, there will be a mandatory deduction of 2 % as a contribution to the State Pension fund (SPK). Standard employment conditions for state employees in Norway apply for the position.

An annual allowance of 20 000 NOK for literature and other necessary academic activities.

Office space in a professionally stimulating working environment.Attractive welfare benefits and generous pension agreement, in addition to Oslo’s family-friendly environment with its rich opportunities for culture and outdoor activities.

Formal regulations

The educational component in the AHO PhD Programme is mandatory and requires fulltime attendance. Residency in Oslo for the employment period is mandatory. Research stay at a relevant international academic institution is encouraged. The PhD fellowship will start 1 September 2023.

Information meeting

The PhD Programme at The Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO) will arrange an online information meeting about the AHO PhD Programme on 8 February at 15:00 CET. See http://www.ahophdlive.com more information.

Enquiries about this position should be directed to the supervisors:

  • Associate Professor Ted Matthews, Ted.Matthews@aho.no
  • Associate Professor Einar Sneve Martinussen, EinarSneve.Martinussen@aho.no

Examples of related research and other research activities can be found at the Centre for Design Research (designresearch.no).

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