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Art and Design

Today, such global areas as design, fashion, and art are breaking new ground due to their partial mediatization, development of creative clusters, etc. This is what stirs interest in these areas on the part of HSE University. Art and Design, as parts of the macro-field “creative industries”, are gathering momentum as a research field. Many big cities (New York, Beijing, London, Paris, etc.) have been actively funding the establishment of Art&Design institutions over the past twenty years. The fields of “Art” and “Design” at HSE University have been modelled after such innovative schools as Royal College of Art, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and Politecnico di Milano.

The main Art&Design fields at HSE University include the following:

  • communication design, i.e., research on visual forms in advertising, book publishing, graphic art – these are the areas for which design is a central and key component in the creation of economic value and which, at the same time, lie at the heart of the creative economy. This serves to HSE University’s beneficial advantage over other Russian universities, with the latter leaning towards industrial and product design. At the same time, Communication Design does not include studies in drawing and painting, with which reputable art schools and institutes affiliated with the Ministry of Culture have been traditionally concerned in the country. This field is being developed in partnership with the Cumulus Association, as well as the University of Leeds (UK), whose researchers are visiting lecturers at the newly established Art&Design doctoral school;
  • design of museum spaces is a new field of Art&Design, which is underpinned by the studies of curatorial practices and ideology with respect to museum collections.  This is, in fact, a combination of studies in design (composition and forms) and studies of visual aesthetic means in various artistic fields, which makes HSE University’s focus original. Moreover, this approach suggests that contemporary art can be at the core of such studies, this being the area seeing more experiments with aesthetic forms and, concurrently, practices in museumification than any other.  As such, this field is developing in partnership with the curators of famous international and Russian museums (i.e., Garage, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, etc.);   
  • fashion as a form of self-expression (or, creative fashion) is a field, which emerged at the junction of arts (in particular, theatrical studies and theater aesthetics), on the one part, and costume design, on the other part. Therefore, fashion is studied as the technique of embodying certain social processes in a costume and forms of its demonstration (performance), as well as representations of social relations. In this sense, HSE University effectively promotes studying fashion not in the context of the fashion industry, but rather a form of self-expression and the cultural patterns giving rise to it. This differs from conventional costume design taught, as taught at design schools, on the one side, and to the classical art studies, for which the aesthetics of dance, theatre, etc., are at the forefront of studies, on the other side. This area is being developed via, among other things, a powerful experimental platform for holding various fashion shows and performances, which are becoming the testing grounds for creative studies in fashion. International partners have also been invited to support this line of work.

It is evident that HSE University is purposefully merging research efforts in the sphere of aesthetics (e.g., arts, their forms, etc.) with research on the material implementation of aesthetic forms in urban spaces (e.g., museums, spaces, etc.), as well as in the sphere of new self-expression through performance, fashion, etc. At the same time, communication design currently strengthens the link between design as such and the core of what is referred to as creative industries (e.g., publishing, film industry, advertising, etc.)

By 2030, development in this field will be enhanced through the following research areas:

  • game design (design of video games) is a field which is burgeoning abroad, but is insufficiently represented in Russia. The challenges stemming from this field are primarily related to the need to employ cross-disciplinary methods, which would bind together theatrical aesthetics, audio-visual aesthetics and methods for analyzing interfaces (borrowed from Computer Sciences);
  • studies of new formats for the presentation of research findings (through their visualization, design and new curatorial practices, similar to industrial practices).This is a budding field globally, which is being developed through the creation of video abstracts and video versions of research and academic publications and descriptions of experiments;
  • monitoring studies of the current state of arts, aimed at generating insight into the various aspects of today’s art market. Participation in the Biennale of Contemporary Art, exhibitions at major museums of modern art around the world (Top-200), and prizes at theatre and film festivals will become key indicators for monitoring processes. The practical application of this research programme is invaluable for training curators, artists, and designers, as well as conducting exhibitions, publishing, and public outreach activities on the part of HSE University on an international scale. For instance, the latter will support Russia’s entry and sustainable presence on respective Art&Design markets; 
  • studying processes of transforming crafts into arts.  This field features a plethora of highly relevant topics, which are nevertheless almost unaddressed in the academic community.

Contributions to the Development of Education

In order to generate an in-depth academic understanding of these topics, a doctoral programme in Art&Design has been launched at HSE University. This programme offers its students a chance to engage in different fields of study and branch out to adjacent fields, such as film-making, museum art, theatre, etc.  The cross-disciplinary focus allows for the combination of research on arts with studies of cultural and creative industries as objects of mass culture.

At HSE University, training in design and contemporary art has traditionally included an emphasis on practice-oriented, applicable activities. All students, starting from Year 1, get to carry out their own fashion and design projects, thereby building a portfolio. The integration of research into project activities will enhance the quality of professional design thinking among future professionals in the field.  Moreover, the designers’ understanding of areas adjacent to the creative industries will boost the quality of training, cross-disciplinary approaches, and their ability to communicate when taking part in large-scale projects.

Ensuring a flexible approach to selecting between various pathways (specializations) will remain the main focus for the Design programmes at both the Bachelor’s and Master’s levels over the next five to ten years. Moreover, the creation of production workshops and studios will become increasingly essential to support the development of this field. As a result, HSE University will become the centre for technological competencies, which will contribute to attracting artists, designers and top applicants and students, while also maintaining close ties with alumni and art industries on the whole. The “Student Portfolio” website will be launched and developed to allow graduates to build their reputation and promote themselves (e.g., “club members”), thus giving them additional competitive advantages among employers. In addition, the University’s reputation will be further enhanced, due to the significant expansion of HSE University's exhibition spaces, which includes the transformation of HSE Art Gallery into a world-class exhibition platform.

Since it has its own exhibition space, HSE University will become both a home for developing one’s competencies and a crucial academic base in a wide range of creative activities, while also engaging in analysis of creative approaches to be used within the University by observing existing creative teams and projects.