The Hybrid Designer

This research platform maps current, hybrid practices within the (international) field of graphic design.

Derived from ‘the hybrid artist’ defined by Pascal Gielen, this research platform starts from a design practice where the boundaries between autonomous and applied arts have become liquid. The designer in this diversified and challenging landscape occupies different positions:  from neutral  executor, towards involvement, towards a commitment as curator, author, creator, publisher, philosopher, writer, artist.

The designer shifts from an heteronomous towards an autonomous position. By not only ‘serving’ in the context of assignments, but by being an initiator and creator, the designer also acts as an ‘artist ‘. The classic client-designer relationship is questioned; and the approach of the designer transcends a (purely) functional approach. Operating in many fields creates a rich soil that not only sheds a critical light on existing ways of working but also affects and reforms the (applied) practice from within.The wide committed position of the hybrid designer coincides with the maturing of the discipline graphic design and its increasing independence. It also enriches and recalibrates the horizon of the educational approach of graphic design.

Current projects

The politics of publishing

Researcher : Loraine Furter

The research project The politics of publishing: researching encounters between artists’ books and intersectional feminist tools addresses artists’ books and the politics of publishing, creating forms to uncover forgotten histories in this field, through a critical design approach which includes feminist tools. The project will materialize in a series of hybrid publications (paper, digital, spatial, oral) that re·activate objects and histories and re·circulate them.

Past projects

H.E.P. Hybrid editorial practices (2019-2020)

Researcher : Hugo Puttaert

This research focuses on new collaborations, described as ‘hybrid editorial practices’ between artists and designers.

Born from the ‘making public’ of visual practices, in which the monograph, the reference book and the catalogue are still the most common carriers, a hybrid editorial practice is fundamentally different.

The work itself is the confluence of original and reproduction, and it involves intensive collaboration between artists and designers, in which their positions merge into one another. Whereas graphic designers were rather at the service of the imagination of an artistic practice, the concept of ‘artist’s book’ is interpreted differently in a hybrid practice.

In a sense, this research contributes to a greater appreciation of the autonomous position that graphic designers acquire, no longer subordinate but equivalent.

©Hugo Puttaert Van Stof tot Asse, catalog 2008 Photo Lander Loeckx
©Hugo Puttaert Van Stof tot Asse, catalog 2008
Photo by Lander Loeckx

Sleeperhold Publications

Researcher : Ward Heirwegh

Sleeperhold Publications is a researching publication platform with a focus on editorial design. It departs from the practice of graphic design and presents itself both as client and designer. Its main focus is interdisciplinary collaboration between creative landscapes.

Sleeperhold will produce 10 outputs. After #10 this project will end. Every number is an experiment in approach / collaboration / distribution / media. There is no recurring theme, there is no recurring format, there is no recurring audience.

#1 is a photobook.


Sleeperhold #1 is a Two-part photobook called ‘Dark Room’ by Frederik Bruylant.


Sleeperhold #2 is a cardboard triangular tube containing 6 one-color silkscreened posters and 33 copies.


Sleeperhold #3 is a standard 52-card deck featuring contributions by 14 people.


Sleeperhold #4 is a paperback book which functions as a collection of 14 short stories.

Find more details about each number at Sleeperhold publications.

Project Workout

Researcher : Lauren Grusenmeyer

Workout is an investigation into the use of the ‘contrainte’ in visual arts and graphic design – or how the use of restrictions and time limits create freedom. “I like the idea of seeing less in order to see more; I can see things more concentrated by staying where I am instead of going out to explore. No walking, no kayaking, none of those things; just sitting for hours with only one and the same view in front of me.”  Irene Kopelman, 50 Metres Distance or More Workout highlights artists and designers who define their free working terrain by imposing themselves a series of limitations.

By limiting themselves in time, material or way of working the makers become their own commissioners. This method casts itself as self-education, in which the repetitive character of the method allows to investigate a subject in depth. Thus one finally finds ‘surprise in the routine’, as Henri Jacobs accurately worded and ‘one discovers freedom in the discipline’. This way the research endeavors to find answers to the fear of the white page or what else to do in a world of opulence. Within the framework of this research a series of artists are invited to reflect on their practice in relation to their methods and to test it with students.

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