PhD:- Enhancing Aesthetic Consciousness in Industrial DesignEducation

Deadline: 03.03.2024

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 which 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.

AHO call for a PhD fellow - The aesthetics of sustainable products

The aesthetics of sustainable products:- Enhancing Aesthetic Consciousness in Industrial Design Education

This research project seeks to explore and enhance the methodologies for designers to work with aesthetic parameters in physical form-giving and product interaction, fostering a conscious approach to achieve purposeful and intentional designs. The focus will lie at the intersection of experimental aesthetics and the application of aesthetics within commercial and societal contexts, aiming to bridge the gap between artistic exploration and the practical requirements of industrial design products.


Rapid digitalization and societal transformation are changing the landscape for aesthetic form-making. Designers need to connect and adapt to changing values in society, adapting their work to a range of values such as inclusive design, divers identities or personal adaptation. Sustainability demands will affect the material and form choices and pose new requirements to messaging and expression as well as increased focus on products ability to age with beauty and meaning.

Through these changes, it is important that we understand and adapt to the ongoing aesthetics discourse so we can develop effective approaches for educating a new generation of form-making designers.

The creation of forms in industrial design demands an acute awareness of aesthetics, where the balance between artistic expression and functional requirements is crucial. The aim of the PhD is to develop new knowledge about how to impart this awareness to designers, enabling them to consciously create designs that resonate with specific objectives while maintaining aesthetic appeal.

By bridging the realms of experimental aesthetics, which involve more open-ended, creative explorations, with the practical demands of applied aesthetics in commercial and societal contexts, this research will strive to develop new knowledge that can be used for teaching the next generation of designers to use aesthetics consciously and effectively in their form-making.


The main objective is to develop state of the art knowledge supporting intentional and focused creation of a product's visual appearance in design processes.

Possible sub-objectives are:

  • Investigate the role of applied aesthetic parameters in form-giving within industrial design, exploring the complexities and nuances of balancing artistic expression and functional intent.
  • Explore how sustainability requirements will influence and guide the aesthetic development in industrial design through use of materials and processes with less pressure on nature.
  • Explore how social sustainability goals can require products with an inclusive aesthetics more suitable for a broader user group.
  • Develop teaching methodologies that allow students to navigate between experimental aesthetics and applied aesthetics, fostering a conscious approach to form creation that aligns with the desired purpose of the designed product.
  • Explore the impact of various design tools, methods, and techniques on enhancing designers' understanding and application of aesthetic parameters in industrial design.


The research will combine theoretical exploration, practical workshops, and case studies. The candidate will integrate their own form-making expertise and integrate their own work in the case studies. The study will involve AHO students and engage in experimental exercises to explore the boundaries of aesthetic possibilities, followed by guided sessions that translate these learnings into commercial product designs. The study will also involve close collaboration with industry partners and groups of end users to align the developed framework with real-world requirements


  • New knowledge of form-giving in industrial design, shedding light on the complexities and interplay between experimental and applied aesthetics.
  • New knowledge of how to teach and nurture students’ ability to consciously incorporate aesthetic and their own sensibilities while designing for specific purposes within society and commercial contexts.


This research will significantly contribute to the field of industrial design by providing a framework that empowers designers to engage with aesthetics consciously and purposefully in their design processes. Both the green and the digital shift will require new knowledge, tools and methodology to design more resilient and futureproof solutions. Bridging the gap between experimental and applied aesthetics will not only enhance the educational experience but also equip future designers with the necessary skills to create products that are both functionally effective and aesthetically compelling.

By addressing the challenges of balancing artistic expression with commercial viability, this research will fill a critical gap in industrial design and serve as a guide for developing a more conscious and purpose-driven approach to form creation in industrial design products.


Teaching form-making is a critical skill for the continued excellence of our industrial design education. However, there is limited competence available to teach these skills and little systematic writings that can help transfer teaching skills between form educators. As form making practise are changing with new technologies it is critical that we develop new state of the art knowledge of how to teach form-making and we do that in formats that can be transferred to others.

The creation of forms is a fundamental part of industrial design. It relates to designers' ability to define meaningful forms through producible materials that correspond to cultural, functional, sustainable, and financial goals. Designing forms of a product is a complex process demanding sustainable, cultural, and technological insight combined with the ability to draw on personal repertoire of form making, subjective feeling and the ability to place and use your own personal expression on behalf of other people. Form-making practices in design has changed dramatically in recent years with new tools, technologies, and collaborative and immersive processes. However, making forms are still a personal and cultural journey, at its core, where designer develop their own form processes and repertoires that they can apply on their design task. The development of their skills is deeply rooted in their subjective experiences as well as their understating of culture and the formal practice of shaping forms that are adapted to the material and production properties.

The complexity of creating a form in design context is a central challenge both in practice and in education. The ability to combine pure form development skills with specific needs from users, business and society requires knowledge and training. Despite this complexity there have been few studies investigating how to train commercial form-making.

There is also a critical need to understand the new landscape of form-making and how to develop methods that will be able to support the development of a designers personal form making sensibilities.

We call for a practice-based PhD in industrial design that will investigate how to utilize and teach modern form-making for industrial design. The PhD research will be positioned within industrial design practice with an emphasis on understanding state of the art form making in addition to exploring new didactics in context of ongoing design courses at AHO. The PhD will contribute to state of the art of design education and will likely need to build on studies of industrial design practice, psychology, and pedagogy theory. The study will mix between state-of-the-art studies and combined with experimental trials in collaboration with the industrial design teachers at AHO. The PhD will be supported by the industrial design group at AHO which have extensive experience on teaching form making in practice.

Cases will be drawn from design education and from professional form-making practice in partner companies.

The main supervisor will be professor Kjetil Nordby, professor Monika Hestad and Professor Hilde Angelfoss will be co supervisors.

This is a strong tutor team that span excellence in design research, industrial design education and professional industrial design practice. The team has experience in tutoring and guiding PhD candidates with design expertise but limited academic experience.

The preferred mode of a thesis by compilation provides structured support for learning to write to academic venues and publications, including collaborative and independently authored works. Design education practice will be integrated in AHO courses and iterative development of supplement to current courses will be possible in collaboration with current tutors and students. The school has a large network of industrial designers in practice and design educators in the Cumulus network that can be drawn upon in the study.

Developing form-making methides is a critical skill for the continued excellence of industrial design. However, there is limited competence available to teach these skills and little systematic writing that can help transfer teaching skills between form educators. As form making practice is changing with new technologies it is critical that we develop new state of the art knowledge of how to teach form-making and we do that in formats that can be transferred to others.


The candidate should have a master’s degree in industrial design and must demonstrate a portfolio of strong form-making for products. We emphasize the ability to understand industrial design from a professional perspective, and as an analytical ability. This can be shown both through written text and /or through advanced design work that demonstrates ability of systematically addressing advanced design problems. We acknowledge that many designers do not have academic experiences and we will teach academic writing in Norwegian and/or English as part of the PhD. Also, we emphasize design practice skills and particularly encourage strong form-makers to apply.

The application must include

  • An application letter describing relevant background, motivation, research experience and network (two A4 pages maximum).
  • An industrial design portfolio showcasing industrial design work
  • A project description of maximum 5 pages that gives an overview of 1) the research field and research questions, 2) theoretical approach/methods and 3) empirical and/or case study material.
  • CV
  • Certified copies of educational certificates, transcript of records, diplomas
  • Examples of work written by the applicant, and/or examples of industrial design projects by the applicant, with relevance to the research project. Five works maximum.
  • 3 references (names, relation to candidate, contact details).

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

  • The quality of the project description (outline)
  • The applicant's suitability for the research tasks, based on previous practical and academic work.
  • The academic competence of the applicant

The candidate is responsible for documenting all aspects of his/her competence in the application. Application with attachments must be submitted via our online recruitment system jobbnorge.no

Please note that all documentation must be in English or a Scandinavian language. The applicants will be assessed on an academic basis. The entire breadth of qualifications will be assessed in ranking competent applicants. It is a goal for all state-owned institutions to maintain a balanced mix of age, gender and cultural background, and accommodate for people with disabilities.

We offer

  •  The PhD scholarship is fully funded and there is no tuition fee. The salary is NOK 532 200 for a full position. 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.
  • AHO expects all proposed projects to follow current national research ethics guidelines.

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 September 1, 2024


Questions can be directed to:

General information about AHO at www.aho.no.

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