Are you curious, creative and critical? Join us for a semester of interdisciplinary making, experiments, hacking, crafting, digital fabrication, bioplastics and electronics in semester 2 (February-July)!

This semester course offered at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences provides an intense training in digital fabrication (tools and techniques like laser cutting, 3D printing, bioplastics production and electronics), and an introduction into making-as-research. What can be known through making, breaking and modifying things? What might we find out about societal values and assumptions around tools and technology by doing so? How does a tool impact what and how you create?
In this interdisciplinary course, you will explore societal issues and their relationship to tools, design and technology through reflective experimentation with high- and low-tech tools and materials. The university’s makerspace is your playground for the semester. We address the norms and values that inform tools, products, branding strategies and technologies: who benefits from a given design? Who doesn't? Could it be different? By asking these questions we aim to open a design space with room for difference and alternatives, on a conceptual level as well as product level.
What to expect
Learning activities
All learning activities are geared towards these skills:

Practice-based creative inquiry
We call the kind of work we do in and outside of class interdisciplinary practice-based creative inquiry. Which means we will generate insights by doing stuff, making (and breaking) things, and reflecting on that process together. The ability to question a complex problem in a precise way, to peel away the layers of a problem and to find multiple interesting perspectives is more important here than immediately solving that problem. You will make the invisible visible and the intangible tangible by building and refining design research tools for a specific context and present these tools and their output in evocative and innovative ways that spark discussion. In close collaboration with peers, coaches, researchers and guests from the fields of design, arts and technology you will explore, inquire, think-through-making, and develop ways to package and present that process as a valuable result in and of itself.

Core recurring activities in the program include:

Grading and credits
The first 10 weeks are dedicated to in-class exercises, discussions and (bi-)weekly assignments to cover a range of methods, core concepts, models of collaboration and design and digital fabrication tools such as 2D design for the laser cutter and plotter, design for 3D printing, molding & casting with bioplastics and extensive work on electronics skills building. Students explore preferred styles of collaboration and identify their own learning objectives for the course.

Week 11-20 are dedicated to team research projects in collaboration with researchers affiliated with the university’s research labs (eg. Fashion Technology Lab, Visual Methodologies Collective, Citizen Data Lab, Crossmedia, and more).

Students are graded on their progress in three learning objectives (shown on the right) with a formative midterm assessment in week 10, and a summative final assessment in week 21. Students prepare a document to demonstrate their process and products, and reflect on their learning outcomes in a verbal assessment.

These three tracks are not separate courses but are entangled throughout the course. Each assignment allows you to cover all three to varying extent and we will dedicate time to understanding the relationships between all three of them.
Collaborative Learning - 10 EC
This course if for you if...
• you are interested in creating a more just world;
• you are curious about things and tools as well as people;
• you want to develop your creative skills as well as your quality of thinking;
• you are able to express yourself in English (verbally and in writing), and are able to work through university-level texts in English;
• you believe collaborating with people with other skills and disciplinary backgrounds extends possibilities to realise great things (and it sure isn’t always easy!);
• you are willing to take responsibility for your own learning: by engaging actively in class, sharing thoughts, collaborating widely and generously;
• you want to become well-versed in digital fabrication techniques using CNC machines like the 3D printer and laser cutter;
• you are interested in learning (more) about programming and electronics, whether you are a beginner or already design your own PCBs;
• you are willing to make yourself uncomfortable and challenge yourself;
• you are interested in getting better at failing and are ok with the discomfort that can bring.

We welcome students from all disciplines who can demonstrate an interest in making in the broadest sense of the word (be it designing, tinkering, branding, hacking, cooking, collaging, drawing, crafting, building, composing, practicing other art forms) by showing examples of things they have made. We organize intakes to figure out together whether the program is likely to be meaningful and manageable for you.
How to join:
If you decide to register for the course, please also send a letter of motivation and a portfolio (some examples of things you created) to Loes Bogers: The letter of motivation should give us an idea of what/who inspired you to participate in this course and how you think you would benefit from participating in the program. Please include a phone number where we can reach you if we feel it might be wise to manage expectations face to face and make sure this is the right fit for you.
NOTE: Submitting a motivation letter and portfolio via email is mandatory, but it does NOT automatically register you for the course. Remember to also arrange your official enrolment using the university's main minor registration system.
Selection from the class reading list:
A selection of articles and excerpts from the following and complemented with professional literature supporting the semester theme:

⁃ Bell, G., Blythe, M., & Sengers, P. (2005). Making by making strange: Defamiliarization and the design of domestic technologies. ACM TOCHI 12(2), 149-173.
⁃ D’Ignazio, Catherine (2017) “What would feminist datavisualization look like?” VisionsCarto. 23 January.
⁃ DiSalvo, C. (2012) Adversarial design. Cambridge: MIT Press.
⁃ Fuller, M. (2005). Media ecologies: Materialist energies in art and technoculture. Cambridge: MIT press.
⁃ Gaver, W. W., Boucher, A., Pennington, S., & Walker, B. (2004). “Cultural probes and the value of uncertainty”. Interactions, 11(5), 53-56.
⁃ Hertz, G. (ed.) (2012) Critical Making. Telharmonium Press. Retrieved at:
⁃ Pater, R. (2016) The Politics of Design: A (Not So) Global Manual for Visual Communication. Amsterdam: BIS Publishers.
looking critically at how ideas of what is “normal” shape the design of every product, object, service and tool we use, and how that translated into forms and material choices;

making explicit which values are at the core at any instance of “normal”, and be able to discuss whether and why these values might not serve everyone in the same way;

developing stimulating what if…? questions to help you open up the design space where you can unleash your creativity and making skills. This is a powerful technique that will help you imagine and effect value-based change through your ideas and designs.
This is a FULL TIME program consisting of mandatory plenary sessions plus independent and collaborative study in the lab. All classes (excluding excursions) are taught at the Amstelcampus near Weesperplein, Amsterdam.

Consider material costs of about € 150-250 on account of the student.

In previous year’s evaluation, 11 out of 12 students said to be very satisfied to extremely satisfied with the overall course*

*From a class of 15 students, 12 students submitted a course evaluation.

More questions? Contact Loes Bogers:
Research projects 2018
Question: How can we visualize our (possible) relationships to urban nature in a way that sparks discussion and engagement?

Research partners: the Knowledge Mile & the Visual Methodologies Collective

Outcomes: A series of street tiles and an Augmented Reality app that brings to life the various attitudes we have to urban nature, and explores what other relationships with nature and their consequences might look like.
Making Things Visible
The wardrobe as a system
Question: How can we observe the life cycles and value of clothing items in a wardrobe?

Research partner: Fashion Technology & Research

Outcomes: WardProbe: a research tool that asks people to log their motivations and emotions in relationship to the clothing in their wardrobe. The probe helps researchers understand the logics by which people make choices in terms of fashion consumption.
Naya Data
Question: How do design decisions of a measuring device influence the gathering (or creation) of data? How can we make people aware of the consequences such design choices in the system design may have?

Partners: Citizen Data Lab

Outcomes: An interactive installation that deconstructs all layers of a generic sensing device that allows citizens to monitor their surroundings. How does each layer (design, technical, material, code) influence the way data is captured (or created)? What does it mean if such data is always slightly colored? It allows visitors to explore these questions by interacting with the installation.
Museum Experience
Question: How can researchers and museum employees gain museum experience data in a visually appealing and playful way that doesn't disconnect this situated knowledge from the museum experience and its visitors?

Research partner: Readership for Crossmedia

Outcomes: various probes and examples of alternative self-mapping tools that are integrated into the museum experience. The tools gather data that can provide insights, without storing more information than strictly necessary to be informative.
Making Sense (team 1)
Question: How might we imagine future senses using technologies? What makes for a meaningful bodily extension?

Research partner: Fashion Technology & Research

Outcomes team 1: A series of tangible prototypes that explore 1) the body as a technology, 2) how the senses can be misled, and 3) possible body extensions of the future. Additionally, this team developed a set of design prompts to rethink and re-imagine the body, using thought-provoking What if..? questions.
Making Sense (team 2)
Outcomes team 2: An interactive sleeve that detects the presence of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and vibrates when it picks up spikes in electromagnetic activity, allowing you to “get a sense” for when such potentially harmful signals are present in your vicinity.
making, mapping, experimenting, hacking, coding, sketching, tinkering, designing, reflecting and documenting in different modes, using different materials and tools. Weekly supporting activities include: class discussions, reading literature, attending guest lectures, excursions, tutorials and giving peer feedback
image: kristin jakubek
image: kristin jakubek
image: kristin jakubek & barbara krantz
images: kristin jakubek & barbara krantz
image: kristin jakubek
image: kristin jakubek & barbara krantz
images: barbara krantz, melvin stans, kaj van der ster
images: jesse feenstra & guillaume daumas
images: yannick mulder & nisse van rossum
image:jesse van thijn, ryan narain, melle rijpstra
images: kristin jakubek & frida eriksson
images: geert lens, jaap spruitenburg & anton westin
Useful info:
Design Research Skills - 10 EC
Maker Skills & Attitude - 10 EC
Research projects 2019
Exclusive Design: The Wah Wah Machine
Eric wants to play the guitar, but the form factor of traditional guitars forms an impossible hurdle for him to cross. He will need a tailor-made assistive device that allows him to improvise on the guitar. Eric’s situation was studied, and all guitar conventions were abandoned to imagine an impossible, improbable and maybe even nonsensical instrument. Does the exclusive design of a guitar lead to inclusive design principles for the design of musical instruments? The outcome was a fully customizable, ergonomic guitar interface that allows Eric to improvise freely.

Students: Rick de Vos, Elisa van der Burg, Audrey Boulland
Partners: Eric Groot Kormelink (HUB) & Vasilis van Gemert (CMD)
Coach: Yuri Westplat
Blockchain: Materializing Hash Codes
Computer Vision Algorithms: Be the Seeing Machine
Toys for Therapy
To Make (Non)-Sense
The blockchain: an algorithmic system that decentralizes and secures digital data: linking lists of records (blocks) with cryptography. But what the hack is a blockchain actually? Technical explanations don't help us a lot, but an imagined need for blockchaining everything is pervading several areas of society. This project attempts to demystify this complex technology by materializing one of its mechanics and workings. The use of hashcodes is explained as you solve this mechanic puzzle.

Students: Katharina van Eck, Rick van Straeten
Partner: Inte Gloerich (Institute of Network Cultures)
Coach: Marjolijn Ruyg

Step into the seeing machine and help the computer see, using your hands as eyes and trying to translate the felt sensations into difficult decisions posed by the seeing machine. Answer the questions of the computer to your best abilities to help it understand. Is the machine’s image a match to what you pictured in your mind? Be The Seeing Machine is a critical statement piece, in the form of an interactive VR installation that offers the user a thought-provoking experience of computer vision algorithms and the systems of classification they are built upon.

Students: Anna Schiffels, Moritz Steinbeck, Andres Pinto
Partners: Carlo de Gaetano, Maarten Groen & Dan Xu,
(Visual Methodologies Collective & the Digital Society School)
Coach: Yuri Westplat

Children with a spastic hand as a result of cerebral palsy, are recommended and encouraged to do expercises at home on a daily basis. But these physical therapies for 8-12 year olds are often uninviting, repetitive and boring. This project brings together digital and physical interfaces that re-center the fun in play, accounting for the ability and therapeutic needs of children with cerebral palsy. It resulted in a fast-paced manual game, inspired by all-time favourite "Twister".

Students: Duy-Linh Pham, Wouter Zijlstra
Partner: Tamara Pinos Cisneros (Digital Society School, Digital Life Lab)
Coach: Yuri Westplat
Paradoxically, sense is often connected with logic, deductive thinking, rational actions and outcomes that are anticipated by hypotheses. Actual sensing: feeling, seeing, smelling, hearing, proprioception are less and less prominent modes of making sense. We neglect them to the point of reducing them to bare necessities and needs of the modern (hu)man. Making Non-Sense challenges your sensory apparatus with a number of probes that have in common the fact that they deal with forces we cannot see, for example by using static electricity to create dynamic patterns in garments.

Students: Asle Lundorff, Neza Praprotnik, Melissa de Bie
Partner: Rebecca Breuer (Fashion Research & Technology)
Coach: Marjolijn Ruyg
In this program, we practice "critical making", and how to fall in love with problems (not solutions), while keeping the ideological and historical layers of materials, tools & technologies in view.
image: kristin jakubek
Week 1-10 : course work, weekly assignments
Week 11: formative assessment

Week 11-19 :methods & team research project
Week 20: class expo
Week 21: assessments
Week 22: resits

Throughout: Meet the Makers (studio visits, excursions
and guest lectures or student-initiated activities)
CLASS SCHEDULE 2020 (may be subject to change)