About Design School Kolding

Design School Kolding's DNA

Danish design is more than beautiful, exclusive products. We enrich a long democratic tradition in which designers together with users find sustainable and inclusive solutions in a playful manner.

Talent is the most important material we work with. We carefully assess the applicants’ potential before we admit them; then we do everything possible to develop and challenge their talent, through theory and reflection and through realistic and interdisciplinary projects. But first and foremost we engage them in experimental, practical workshop activities where the hand and the mind come together in functional and aesthetic design.

We are a locally based learning environment that works internationally and at university level. By attracting talent and close partners from around the world we provide our students with skills and contacts to engage effectively in a global labour market.

A higher education

Design School Kolding is an independent institution under the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science. The school trains designers at undergraduate and graduate levels.

Design School Kolding has approx 340 students and a number of PhD students, including industrial PhD students. Every year, the school admits around 150 new students - 80 in the BA programme and 70 in the MA programme. In addition, the school offers a Master’s programme in design management in collaboration with the University of Southern Denmark.


The history of Design School Kolding

In August 1967, the school, then known as Kunsthåndværkerskolen, opened in Kolding with a textiles line (printing and weaving) and an advertising line. The school was established in Vesterbrogade as a department under Kolding Tekniske Skole. The following year, the school moved to premises in Bdr. Volkerts Fabrikker, and a ceramics line was added. At this time, the school had around 100 students.

In 1970, yet another specialism was added: Clothing. In 1989, the programme was restructured and improved, and extended from four years to five. After the first phase of a new educational structure, the school now included a one-year interdisciplinary basic school, four two-year lines (Clothing, Graphic Design and Illustration, Ceramics and Textiles), and three two-year specialist departments (Department of Industrial Design, Department of Unique Design and Department of Visual Communication).

In 1993, Graphic Design and Illustration, the Department of Visual Communication, Ceramics and parts of the Department of Unique Design moved to Saxovej. Bdr. Volkerts Fabrikker now housed administration, the basic school, Clothing, Textiles, the Department of Industrial Design, parts of the Department of Unique Design, workshop, auditorium and canteen. In 1995, a new programme in Interactive Multimedia was set up.

The school becomes independent 

In January 1996, Design School Kolding broke away from Kolding Tekniske Skole to become an independent institution under the Danish Ministry of Education. The school acquired the Solar building in Ågade and organised an architectural competition to renovate and refurbish the building.

The content and structure of the programme were changed again, with the result that the Department of Industrial Design and the Department of Unique Design were disbanded and replaced by the Department of Product Design. The Department of Form and Theory was established, while the Department of Visual Communication was maintained. The objective was greater interdisciplinary collaboration, with more emphasis on theoretical aspects and form.

In 1998, the school moved into the new building at Ågade 10, gathering all of the school’s departments under one roof. At the same time, the school changed its name to Design School Kolding.

Extension and closure of Ceramics 

In 2002, the government and the political parties entered into an agreement for the artistic programmes under the Ministry for Culture which meant that, for four years, the school was guaranteed a steady income provided it met certain requirements. The first actual research project was initiated.

The following year, the school inaugurated an extension including workshops, study areas and a photographic studio. At the same time, a new Executive Order was approved for Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes. The first four-year performance contract was entered into with the Ministry of Culture, which decided to shut down Ceramics in 2007.

New departments and university status 

In 2008, two large subject-specific departments were set up: the Department of Communication Design, comprising graphic design, illustration and interaction design (formerly interactive media) and the Department of Product Design with industrial design, fashion and textiles. Research became part of the new Faculty for Education and Research, which also handles student administration and cross-disciplinary teaching.

The school underwent an accreditation process along with evaluation of its research activities, resulting in the school being granted university status in 2010, and thus able to offer a three-year Bachelor’s programme, a two-year Master’s programme and then the possibility of a PhD.

In connection with the presentation of the Finance Bill for 2014, the school will have the opportunity to set up an Accessory Design programme (Bachelor’s and Master’s) with a focus on shoes, bags and jewellery. The new programme will mean the intake of an extra 60 students over the next five years.


Income and collaborations

The school’s income in 2013 amounted to DKK 70 million; two thirds of which came from the Finance Bill and the rest through external funding from companies and public institutions. The latter draw inspiration and support in the school’s two Laboratories: The Laboratory for Social Design (welfare design), the Laboratory for Sustainability and Design (sustainable business, fashion and energy), and the Laboratory for Play and Design.

Collaboration with companies

Design School Kolding’s external funding has increased significantly over the past years, and the school’s list of business partners is extensive. It includes B&O, Grundfos, Ecco, Rambøll, Fritz Hansen, Kopenhagen Fur, Le Klint, Georg Jensen Damask, Swarovski, to name but a few.

Cross-disciplinary collaborations

Together with the University of Southern Denmark and a number of companies, including LEGO and Bjert Invest, Design School Kolding runs the initiative D2i - Design to innovate, which aims to teach SMEs how design can be used as an innovation method. Design School Kolding also houses Invest in Denmark and the Danish Design and Architecture Initiative, DDAI, which focuses on the international marketing of Danish Design and Danish Architecture.

International collaborations

The school cooperates with a wide range of international universities and design institutions, including two outposts at foreign universities: one at Tongji University in Shanghai in China and one at University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. 


Competitions, exhibitions, etc.

Design School Kolding has two final projects represented in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.

Since 2012, Design School Kolding has exhibited at the world’s leading design fair I Saloni in Milan.

The school’s students participate in many international competitions and exhibitions, which has meant that students from Design School Kolding have often won awards, including The Golden Fur Pin and Designers’ Nest. 


Kolding is a design city

Kolding is a design city. Not in name only. Just look at Design Map Kolding; a map of a city filled with design institutions ranging from the international branding initiative, Danish Design & Architecture Initiative, to educational institutions, design museums, innovation houses, and not least a local government that wants design. Literally, Kolding is putting design on the map; with Design School Kolding at the centre.


1. Design School Kolding offers design education at BA, MA and PhD levels. The school is renowned for its innovative design education and its international study environment.

2. International Design Camp  is an annual, recurring event at Design School Kolding that joins Danish and international students, companies, designers and researchers with an interest in design.

3. Invest in Denmark has established a design entry point at Design School Kolding. It is a customized one-stop service for foreign companies looking to set up businesses in Denmark.

4. Danish Design & Architecture Initiative  promotes the special Danish Design approach to architecture, fashion and design around the world.

5. International Business College offers design as an elective subject to most of its students.

6. International Business academy offers an Academy Profession degree in Entrepreneurship and Design.

7. Design City is a vibrant area in Kolding focusing on design.

8. House of Innovation is the Kolding Municipality Centre for entrepreneurs and start-up companies.

9. The Kolding Municipality Centre is creating a new vision using design thinking, under the headline ”We Design Kolding”.

10. The University of Southern Denmark offers a BA programme in Design Culture and Economy and an MA programme in Design Management.

11. House of Design is the design entrepreneurship centre of the local government.

12. Nicolai Art & Design is a venture centred around professional arts, crafts and design.

13. Business Kolding works as the primary liaison between Kolding Municipality and businesses and business development.

14. Koldinghus museum has a unique display of the long history of Danish Design and crafts traditions.

15. The Design Department of Hansenberg offers vocational training within form, design and visual expressions in digital media.

16. Trapholt is a museum of modern art, crafts, design and furniture design


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