Proposed PhD Thesis (Summary)

In his proposed PhD thesis, Julian Schwarze examines the terms and conditions by which product language analysis might be applied to mobility spaces. The product language theory designed objects, which are taken to be “communicative signifiers,” can be analyzed in terms of their product semantics. Product semantics are rendered visible by users’ interaction with a product.  Expanding the scope of such interaction to encompass mobility spaces in which users who are in motion, or who are put into motion, interact in a time-based usage process not only with objects but also with virtual and physical spaces, brings up the question as to whether the product-language theory is applicable. Can this theory serve as a premise for analysis as well as for the subsequent definition and development of design parameters, and where might its limits lie?

In product semantics, interaction or communication between users and objects is regarded as a process yet the respective position of each interacting (or communicating) factor is regarded as static. Moreover, products are taken to be delimitable. Mobility spaces, in contrast, evince two distinguishing characteristics: on the one hand, their users are mobile, i.e. are in (or put into) motion; on the other hand, such spaces are not isolable but highly complex objects. Moreover, mobile, time-based usage of them gives rise to a specific interaction context. This raises questions, such as whether product language theory is adequate to the task of analyzing this specific context; where its limits (if any) might lie; and how it might be expanded. The relevant literature on design theory and art theory will accordingly be consulted, along with current discourse in architectural theory. The thesis will critically address the methods and analytical tools of the product language theory and examine the eventual need to redefine them in light of their practical application to mobility spaces; and it will classify the subsequent findings.

In order to define the scope and limits of the product language theory, it will be applied in the practical part of the project to a delimited section of a mobility procedure at a specified mobility hub; and the findings will be documented.

Curriculum Vitae (Summary)

Julian Schwarze, born on May 12, 1989 in Frankfurt / Main, studied product design at the University of Art and Design Offenbach, graduated in 2015 and is currently a research associate and PhD student in with a focus on mobility design. His doctoral thesis deals with system transitions in mobility spaces and their user-centered design. During his studies he completed internships in design offices in the Netherlands and Hamburg. The main focus was on  brand- and user-centered design of industrial products, everyday products and packaging.

Tasks within project–

Julian Schwarze is is a research scholar in the DESIGN Research Subcluster.


Faculty of Design
University of Art and Design Offenbach am Main