Bjorn Franke is a practitioner and theorist and is currently Senior Lecturer in Design Theory and Practice at the Zurich University of the Arts. He holds a PhD in Design Interactions and a MA in Design Products from the Royal College of Art and was awarded fellowships at the Akademie Schloss Solitude as well as the Artist Residency Schloss Balmoral. His work has featured in exhibitions internationally, most recently at the MUDAC Lausanne in Switzerland, the Triennale di Milano Design Museum in Italy and the Design Museum Holon in Israel. His academic research has been widely published in books and journals and he has participated in and convened lectures, conferences and workshops internationally. Franke’s research interests lie in the relationship between design, technology and philosophy; in particular how the shifting technological landscape alters human behaviour, relationships and self-conceptions.
Professional History and Fellowships
Head, MA Interaction Design, Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland
Senior Lecturer, Design Theory and Practice, Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland
Senior Lecturer, Design Theory and History, University of Applied Arts Vienna, Austria
Research Fellow, Künstlerhaus Schloss Balmoral, Bad Ems, Germany
Lecturer, Critical and Historical Studies, Royal College of Art, London, UK
Research Fellow, Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany
Deputy Dean / Senior Lecturer, Interior Design, American InterContinental University, London, UK
Design Consultant, Syndicate Brand & Corporate Design, Hamburg, Germany
PhD (RCA), Design Interactions, Royal College of Art, London, UK
MA (RCA), Design Products, Royal College of Art, London, UK
Dipl.-Des. (FH), Industrial Design, Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Kiel, Germany
Conferences and Lectures
Lecture, “Design as Critical Inquiry,” Salzburg University of Applied Sciences, Austria, 10 May 2021
Lecture, “Critical Design: Real Worlds and Real Needs,” Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland, 20 April 2021
Keynote Speaker, “Between Abstract Worlds and Concrete Realities,” Criteria: A Conference on Critical Design, Sursock Museum, Beirut, Lebanon, 20 May 2017
Speaker, “Design as Inquiry,” Design without Industry?, SDA 50 Forum, Swiss Design Association, Bern, Switzerland, 14 October 2016
Convenor, Undesign, Design Symposium, University of Applied Arts Vienna, Austria, 2 June 2016
Speaker, “The Metaphors of Design,” The Intrinsic Logic of Design, Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland, 2–3 October 2014
Speaker,“Prospects for a Material Philosophy,” Revolving Stars, Shaky Ground: Konstellationen unsicheren Wissens in Kunst, Wissenschaft und Technik, Hochschule für Bildende Kunst, Dresden, Germany, 3–6 July 2014
Speaker,“Design as a Philosophical Inquiry,” Dock of Learning: Design of, as, and beyond Knowledge, Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Kiel, Germany, 2–3 July 2014
Speaker,“The Future, the Possible and the New,” Multiply Futures: About Possible and Impossible Future Scenarios, Design Symposium, Kunstuniversität Linz, Austria, 22–23 May 2014
Convenor, The Stuff Between Us: Designing Interactions Beyond the Object, Design Symposium, Zurich University of the Art, Switzerland, 4–5 October 2013
Panellist, Design der Zukunft II, Duale Hochschule BW Ravensburg, Germany, 26–27 April, 2013
Convenor, Design as Politics / Politics as Design, Guest Lecture Series 2012, Department of Design History and Theory, University of Applied Arts Vienna, Austria
Panellist, Anti-Design: Prescription for Rebellion, Papanek Foundation Symposium, University of Applied Arts Vienna, Austria, 10–11 Nobember 2011
Lecture, “Design Objects as Objects of Understanding,” Department of Design, Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland, 6 June 2011
Convenor, Making/Crafting/Designing: Perspectives on Design as a Human Activity, Design Theory Symposium, Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany, 10–12 February 2011
Speaker, “Design Fiction is Not Necessarily About the Future,” Negotiating Futures – Design Fiction, Sixth Swiss Design Network Conference, Basel, Switzerland, 28–30 October 2010
Speaker,“From Human Futures to Posthuman Futures,” Territories of the In/Human, Würtembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, Germany, 29 July 2010
Lecture, “Existential Technologies,” Künstlerhaus Schloss Balmoral, Bad Ems, Germany, 27 May 2010
Lecture, “Design as Inquiry,” Royal College of Art, London, UK, 2 March 2010
Speaker, “Design as Ethical and Moral Inquiry,” CEPHAD 2010 Conference, The Danish Design School, Copenhagen, Denmark, 27–29 January 2010
Speaker, “Designing the Self,” The Design of the (In)Human, Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany, 19–21 November 2009
Speaker, “Design as a Medium for Inquiry,” Multiple Ways to Design Research, Fifth Swiss Design Network Symposium, Lugano, Switzerland, 12–13 November 2009
Lecture, “The Design of the Self,” IZEW, Universität Tübingen, Germany, 25 May 2009
Speaker, “Manufactured Fears,” Dealing with Fear, Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany, 18–20 October 2007
Speaker, “Artefacts as Influential Actors,” Design/Body/Sense, Design History Society Conference, Kingston University, London, UK, 5–7 September 2007
Presenter, “Affective Sensory Extensions,” Persuasive 2007: The Second International Conference on Persuasive Technology, Stanford University, Palo Alto, USA, 26–27 April 2007
Lecture, “Manufactured Evidence,” Something Fake, Platform 21, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 5 October 2006
Lecture, “Designing Fear,” Department of Design and Media Arts, UCLA, Los Angeles, USA, 11 January 2005
Franke, Björn. Design as Inquiry: Prospects for a Material Philosophy (Forthcomming).
Franke, Björn. The Morality and Ideology of Things (Forthcomming).
Franke, Björn and Sarah Owens, eds. Hyperimages. Zurich: Zurich University of the Arts (Forthcomming).
Franke, Björn and Sarah Owens, eds. Image (img), imagine (in), imaginal (al). Zurich: Zurich University of the Arts (Forthcomming).
Franke, Björn. “Undesign and Understanding.” In Critical by Design? Cultures, Epistemologies, Practices, ed. Claudia Mareis, Moritz Greiner-Petter, and Michael Renner. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, 2022.
Franke, Björn, Introduction to Not at Your Service: Manifestos for Design, edited by Björn Franke and Hansuli Matter. Basel: Birkhäuser, 2020.
Franke, Björn and Hansuli Matter, eds. Not at Your Service: Manifestos for Design. Basel: Birkhäuser, 2020.
Franke, Björn and Sarah Owens, eds. 94 Strange Sensations: A Dictionary of the Unseen. Zurich: Zurich University of the Arts, 2018.
Franke, Björn. “Design Fiction is Not Necessarily About the Future.” Sixth Swiss Design Network Conference, Negotiating Futures - Design Fiction (2010): 80–90.
Franke, Björn. “Violent Machines for Troubled Times.” In Dealing with Fear, edited by Julia Warmers. Stuttgart: Akademie Schloss Solitude, 2010.
Franke, Björn. Violent Machines for Troubled Times, Bad Ems: Künstlerhaus Schloss Balmoral, 2010.
Franke, Björn. “Design as Ethical and Moral Inquiry.” CEPHAD 2010: The Borderland between Philosophy and Design Research. Copenhagen Working Papers on Design No. 1 (2010): 71–72.
Franke, Björn. “Design as a Medium for Inquiry.” Fifth Swiss Design Network Symposium, Multiple Ways to Design Research - Research Cases that Reshape the Design Discipline (2009): 225–232.
Franke, Björn. “Traces of an Imaginary Affair.” In Fetisch + Konsum/Fetish + Consumption, edited by Jean-Baptiste Joly, Catherine Perret, and Julia Warmers. Stuttgart: Merz and Solitude, 2009.
Planet Digital, Museum of Design Zurich, Switzerland, 11 February – 6 June 2022
Der Schmerz des Anderen, Showroom Z+, Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland, 7–8 April 2016
Nirvana, Gewerbemuseum Winterthur, Switzerland, 29 November 2015 – 8 May 2016
Nirvana: Strange Forms of Pleasure, MUDAC Lausanne, Switzerland, 29 October 2014 – 19 April 2015
Senza Pericolo, Triennale di Milano Design Museum, Italy, 3 May 2013 – 1 September 2013
Kama: Sesso e Design, Triennale di Milano Design Museum, Italy, 5 December 2012 – 10 March 2013
KM 500/3, Kunsthalle Mainz, Germany, 19 November 2010 – 16 January 2011
Designed Disorder, CUBE, Manchester, UK, 1–31 October 2010
Territories of the In/Human, Würtembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, Germany, 30 April – 1 August 2010
The State of Things: Design and the 21st Century, Design Museum Holon, Israel, 4 March – 22 May 2010
Hortus Conclusus/Apertus, Künstlerhaus Schloss Balmoral, Bad Ems, Germany, 3–11 October 2009
Love Design, Klaus Engelhorn Depot, Vienna, Austria, 1–10 October 2009
Show Three, Whirled Cinema, London, UK, 4 July 2009
Promise, Practice, Protocol, Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany, 14 May – 4 July 2009
Love Design, Galleria Nina Lumer, Milan, Italy, 22–27 April 2009
Die Römer VI - Kommunikologie, Projektraum Römerstrasse, Stuttgart, Germany, 15 November 2008
Open Studios, Sommerfest, Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany, 5 July 2008
Fetisch and Konsum, Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany, 29 May – 5 July 2008
The Art of Research, Lume Gallery, Helsinki, Finland, 1–12 October 2007
Village Fête, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK, 27–28 July 2007
Digitalinability, DMY 2007, Berlin, Germany, 17–20 May 2007
Eden ADN, Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Étienne, France, 22 November – 3 December 2006
Something Fake, Platform 21, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 6–27 October 2006
Weapon World, Café de Lumiere, Taipei, Taiwan, 7–14 November 2006
The Wellcome Trust’s Travelling Apothecary, London, UK, 16 September 2006
Generation, Royal College of Art, London, UK, 23 June – 2 July 2006
Designsuburbia, DMY 2006, Berlin, Germany, 18–21 May 2006
Features in Books, Magazines and Other Media
SRF 10vor10, “Ausstellung ‘Planet Digital’ im Zürcher Museum für Gestaltung,” 21 March 2022, Switzerland.
Manifestos for Design Talk Series, conversation with Björn Franke and Vera Sacchetti, Zurich University of the Arts, 30 March 2021.
Carnale, Issue 00, 2021, Italy.
SRF 10vor10, “Die Mondlandung vor 50 Jahren: Eine unendliche Design-Inspiration,” 11 July 2019, Switzerland.
Disruption, Royal College of Art, UK.
Blood, Trunk Volume Two, 2012, Australia
Design of the In/Human, Akademie Schloss Solitide, 2012, Germany
Pie Paper, Issue 2, 2010, New Zealand
d[x]i magazine, No. 37, March 2010, Spain
IdN, 15th Anniversary Edition, 2009, Hong Kong
Esquire, Vol.23 No. 4, April 2009, Japan
Interview on RCN RADIO, 21 March 2009, Colombia
The Guardian, 12 March 2009, UK
Love Design, DAAB, 2009, Germany
Code Magazine, Issue 5, Autumn 07, Belgium
VIA, 03/06, June 2007, Austria
IdN, Vol.14 No.1, April 2007, Hong Kong
Cool Hunting, East Street Publications, 2006, Australia
Icon 41, November 2006, UK
Vogue, October 2006, Korea
Viewpoint, No. 20, September 2006, UK
Designers' Workshop Tokyo, Vol. 23, No. 149, September 2006, Japan
Icon 39, September 2006, UK
Static, Issue 3, The London Consortium, July 2006, UK
ID Magazine, June 2006, USA
+Design, No.45, March/April 2006, Greece
Max, 03/06, Italy
Homme, 02/15, Spain
Swiss Typographic Magazine, 03/04, Switzerland
Design Report, 05/03, Germany
Design Report, 02/02, Germany
Grants and Awards
6 month Fellowship, Künstlerhaus Schloss Balmoral, Bad Ems, Germany
14 month Fellowship, Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany