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Prof. Dr. phil. Sophia Prinz

What does a typical working day involve for you?
When I drag myself out of bed in the morning, I ask myself why the Swiss are such early risers. What’s their secret? My first coffee of the day, then on to the tram, luckily that’s downhill, which gets me into gear. At the Toni, I am regularly overwhelmed by the foyer. So much undefined space. «There are possibilities lurking here», I think … and look forward to my students.

Which topics are you focussing on at the moment?
I am interested in the globally interlaced story of design and its many chapters. Let’s take rubber from Myanmar as an example – on the one hand, it made it possible to insulate the first transatlantic telegraph cable, on the other, it served for all kinds of flourishes in early industrial mass production; or, the postcolonial legacy of Swiss textile production and the Afro-Brazilian adoption of St. Gallen embroidery in the Candomblé religion. Just like modernity as a whole, modern design is not an invention of the West, but emerged from encounters between continents, cultural practices and aesthetic traditions. These encounters were and are prone to conflicts – we can still observe similar adaptations and transfers happening today. That means you can’t approach these phenomena and experiences from a purely Western perspective and always need to work in a transcultural team.

What motivates you?
I have a weakness for certain fundamental questions, which I reckon are called «fundamental» because they can never be answered conclusively – such as the question concerning the interaction between design and society.

Professor Design Theory and History
Departement Design
Prof. Dr. phil. Sophia Prinz
Photo: David Jäggi. © ZHdK.
Photo: David Jäggi. © ZHdK.