The objective of the approaches to a theory of product language as developed in the 1980s at HfG Offenbach is to enable a special crossover of theory and practice in design. Alongside theoretical reflection, the main focus is on discussion and the practical reviewing of product-language aspects in specific design projects.
In their first semester, students attend workshops on »human/object interaction«, which sensitize them to the subtle impact design has. Signs are identified as indications for use or handling – they act like a creatively integrated manual. Other signs – the symbols – refer beyond the object itself to various contexts and sensitize and open people to the fact that there is not just one path. In this way, the foundations for future study are laid, something complemented by an exploration of the formal aesthetic aspects of design that also takes place in the Basic Course through subsequent project work in the Advanced Courses, which make the selected design instruments into simple or complex conveyors of meaning, often also in the context of corporate design strategies and brands. Different design topics from simple metaphors to decorative surface design or a practice/functionally oriented design concept to conceptual considerations demonstrate the bandwidth and varying interest with which designers can express themselves through product language. An important aim of teaching is to ensure students become aware of these non-verbal repertoires and consequently always take a fresh approach to design tasks.