Eileen Mandir

The Less Experiment - Übungen im Weniger

2022-10 • Intervention, Experiment, Design Research
Cover photo
Final critique at master studio @Faculty for design, University of Applied Sciences Munich


The Master Advanced Design has its focus on the fields of work “Social Change and Transformative Processes” and “Design Theory and design culture”. In the projects, the students deal with topics of social design and transformation design in the context of the major social, technological or cultural upheavals of our time. The focus is on conceptual and experimental-research approaches.

Formal-aesthetic reduction is one of the central themes of modernism in architecture and design. With aphorisms such as “Less is More”, “Less, but better” or “The more you know, the less you need”, it has also become the expression of a conscious decision for the qualitatively better, for a concentration on the essential and spiritual, and thus a sign of distinction. This conscious decision for less has been found since antiquity: asceticism is regarded in philosophy and the world religions as a means to improve life, to attain a higher level of consciousness and to achieve bliss. As early as the 1990s, design exhibitions posed the question of what things people need, but companies and brands also emerged that were dedicated to more conscious consumption. Against the backdrop of climate catastrophe, hyper-economisation and energy crisis, conscious “less” is gaining new significance with a fundamental change in our consumer behaviour, but also with phenomena such as the minimalism trend, the Tiny House movement or Digital Detox. Today, abstinence from consumption is also seen as an expression of self-determination, detachment from the consumption of prestige and the improvement of life. Some academics even call consumerism the central cultural technique of the 21st century.

In the project “The Less Experiment - Exercises in Less” students researched how “less” can be shaped not as a negatively connoted renunciation, but as a positive experience and cultural advancement. The project goal was to design an experiment or an “exercise in less”, which was to be implemented as a participatory process, action, performance, app, campaign, etc. In four sub-project groups, the students developed experiments on the connection between creativity and boredom or on the topic of appreciation through mindfulness; they dealt with questions like “How to best pause?” or designed a satirical-critical examination of the sustainability movement: Does a certain amount of boredom increase creativity? What distractions do design students need during their break? How can even small interventions increase mindfulness and appreciation? And how can a deliberately exaggerated mock product make people reflect on the capitalistic and individualistic aspects of their supposedly “minimalist” lifestyle?

Fakultät für Design, Hochschule München
MA "Advanced Design", students from 2. semester
Fall 2022
Prof. Markus Frenzl, Prof. Béla Stetzer, Prof. Dr. Eileen Mandir
Sarah Czerny, Luisa Dannhäuser, Kristina Gleißner, Antonia Hauf, Benedikt Hörmannsdorfer, Moritz Keller, Tobias Moser, Franziska Richter, Antonia Schauz, Julia Schneider, Melanie Settele, Daohan Yang

Selected student projects