Phd - Design and Aesthetics for Service

Deadline: 03.03.2024

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.

Call for research fellow in Design and Aesthetics for Service

About the position

The Institute of Design at The Oslo School of Architecture and Design announces a fully funded three year PhD position for the period 2024-2027 to explore questions of aesthetics and form-giving in design for service. The aim of the PhD research is to contribute to the emerging discussion/discourse regarding aesthetics in the field of Service Design and in particular to apply this to service design practice. The PhD will be situated within the service design group at the Design Institute.

Research on aesthetics in service design is limited in terms of; understanding the role of aesthetics in the form-giving process of designing services, in the conceptualization of service experience and delivery and how this can be supported through design practice and pedagogy. This call requests research proposals that will examine and explore applied aesthetics for the field of service design. It aims to contribute to the building of a research area at AHO and the field of service design that combines aesthetics theory and practice, through the development of approaches, methods or tools. This means crossing over a range of design disciplines including placing design practice and aesthetic theory in a cultural context.

We envisage a three-phased project starting with a literature review that could incorporate an inventory or collection of practices that would identify relevant concepts for service design. Based upon this work, we anticipate a ‘Research through Design’ exploration by forming services leading to the development of new methods, tools and techniques that integrate these concepts. A final phase that reflects on this exploration will further situate and develop the methods, tools and techniques and in turn the aesthetic discourse. The project(s) will be supervised by the service design research group and where relevant, could use cases from ongoing research projects at the institute (see designresearch.no).

The Ph.D is part of a broader initiative at the institute within the field of aesthetics and design. It will be connected with other research and Ph.D’s in the area of aesthetics and design, allowing the sharing of knowledge and mutual support.

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 discipline. Aesthetics and form-giving are at the core of AHO’s pedagogy as well as being central in the research performed at the school and in professional practice. 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 there might be the option of extending the PhD period to a four-years, where one year is devoted to teaching.


We seek designers with strong aesthetic sensibility, who wish to add a deep understanding of aesthetics to their practical service design skills. The applicant must demonstrate the ability to describe and discuss their Ph.D research proposal in the application and interviews. Strong aesthetic or experiential design skills can compensate for a limited academic background.

  • The candidate should have a master degree in service design, interaction design, industrial design, graphical design or equivalent creative discipline
  • The candidate should deliver a portfolio demonstrating competence in design aesthetics
  • The candidate should show an interest for academic writing and presentations

We would like you to describe a project in the form of a project proposal that can be discussed and developed together with the supervisors during the initial stage of your Ph.D. The proposal should sketch out aspects of aesthetics you consider relevant for service design and how these could be brought together to create a platform for design-based exploration. The proposal should include a rough plan, including the various stages of your work.

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)
  • Portfolio of relevant projects (max 5 projects)

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.

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

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

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 2024.

We offer

  • The PhD scholarship is fully funded and there is no tuition fee. The salary is NOK 532 200 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.

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 12th February at 13:00 CET. See here more information

 Contact information

Enquiries about this position are welcomed and should be directed to:

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

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