thomas durner

my teaching

Since my graduation from the Architectural Association in London (1999) I was involved with teaching. Starting with little workshops, I soon got the chance for a part time teaching job together with my former professor Pascal Schoening. For three years I would join him in running a graduation class at the AA. Tired of commuting between Amsterdam and London I started to focus on some teaching jobs closer by.

For many years I have been involved at the Academie van bouwkunst in Rotterdam, but also briefly in Amsterdam and Arnhem. After running two design ateliers there, I organised a lecture series about housing and later the relationship of architecture and interior architecture. In more recent years I gave a class about communication and portfolio making together with the graphic designer Stephan Achterberg (VanLennep) next to mentoring a couple of graduation students for their final projects.

In 2011 I started teaching at the Rietveld academy in Amsterdam where I taught furniture design. During the same time I was invited to become the external examiner for the bachelor graduations of the New Design University in St. Poelten (close by to Vienna) for three years.

I always liked the combination of running an own practice and teaching. Working with students would keep me in touch with the academic world and keep the door open to more theoretical questions about concept forming, design methodologies, process management and presentation strategies. Issues that are also important in practice but easily get overshadowed by commercial and functional obligations.

My own practice shifted from architectural projects to furniture design. That is why I particularly enjoyed my recent involvement at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. In my furniture design class I tried to develop methods that helped the students to overcome their own pre-occupations what design should be. With playful exercises the students had to uncover their own field of interest and passion and formulate their own and individual brief for a furniture. Research and product development would then always be based on those personal findings, helping the students to shift the gaze away from the glittering big world of design to discover their own strength and talent. The result would be very particular and individual objects - sometimes more artistic, sometimes more applied - but always with a strong personal link to its maker.

The independence of the academic world will always be an inspiration to me. Not to mention the pleasure of working with young and enthousiastic new comers to the discipline.

To me teaching means helping others to get access to their own creativity and desires. Only then questions will be asked about professional relevance and applications.