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The Hinterface – Exploring the Hidden Side of Digital Utopia


Mo 14:00 – 18:00, R. D/106

Digital products and services become ever more complex, powerful and ubiquitous in our modern lives, and interface design takes pride in making these technologies easy and joyful to use. More recently, however, there is a rising discrepancy noticeable between the elegant, perfected surfaces it produces, and the complex socio-technological realities these are covering. People increasingly struggle to understand the technologies they employ, while user interfaces tend to oversimplify, banalise or even cover up the underlying structures of their systems.

How can companies like Uber, who are shaving the last penny off of their workforce, become more transparent about their business model? How can we sustainably co-exist with »smart« AI assistants that fail to understand us 99% of the time? How can social networks that have the addictive potential of cigarettes, be better kept in check? As designers of these interfaces we also help to foster a divide between users of two opposing camps – those who are aware of the underpinnings of digital networked products, and those who enjoy the resulting services in blissful ignorance.

In this course, we will take a critical look at interaction design as a discipline that has the potential to alter the way not only people engage with technology, but also with each other – as individuals and as a society. We will ask ourselves what responsibility we as designers bear in these confusing times and how we, as gatekeepers of a good product experience, can also take a key role in the mediation of the conflicts our products might spark.

We will be diving into the history of this development, reflect on critical writings, and eventually conceive potential counter-tactics. Participants are encouraged to bring their thesis subjects to the table and help shape the focus of this course. Join us in a discussion of a new ethics for our discipline, and contribute your ideas and designs.

This course will be held in English. It aims primarily at Master students – however, provided there are free spots left, third-year Bachelor students are invited as well.


Design Master

31LE-DOP Dialog, Oberfläche, Prozess


21FVId-SI Software Interfaces


Wintersemester 2018 / 2019