Uta Brandes - CV


Uta Brandes is a German design expert, -theoretician and -author. She is the founder of the international Gender Design Network (iGDN) and the chairwoman of iGDN Germany. Until 2015, she was professor of Gender and Design and of Design Research at the Koeln International School of Design (KISD). Together with Michael Erlhoff she runs the be design office (design consultancy and research, founded in 1991). She resides in Cologne, Germany.

Uta Brandes studied at the University of Hanover, first in the areas of English language and literature studies, political science and sports, then sociology and psychology (MA). She went on to do her PhD under the supervision of Dr. Oskar Negt and Prof. Dr. Regina Becker-Schmidt.

During her studies she worked as a high school teacher and as assistant producer at the Staatstheater Hanover. From 1973 to 1983 she was co-editor of an experimental arts, literature, music, architecture and design magazine called ‘zweitschrift'. ‘Among others, zweitschrift published original works by John Cage, Christo, Ernst Jandl, Martin Kippenberger, Friederike Mayröcker, Alessandro Mendini, Cesar Pelli, Haus-Rucker-Co, Valie Export, Peter Weibel and Lawrence Weiner. After her studies she became research assistant at the University of Hanover working on a research project sponsored by the German Research Foundation. Later she was appointed deputy director of the research institute Women and Society.

After moving to Frankfurt, she became deputy secretary of state at the Hessian state chancellery in Wiesbaden. However, after six months she handed in her notice and preferred to work as a freelance author for radio, magazines and publishing houses. During this time, she was also involved in the foundation of the Deutscher Journalistinnen Bund (Association of Female Journalists).

Towards the end of the 1980s, she became the first director of the Swiss Design Center Langenthal and she also participated in the foundation of the German Designerinnen Forum (Female Designers' Forum).

At the beginning of the 1990s, she developed a new concept for the event area at the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bonn and subsequently was appointed director of this department where she continued to organise conferences (e.g. The Future of our Senses), short operas and experimental music performances.

She is a founding member of the German Association for Design Theory and Research. In 2013, she founded the international Gender Design Network (iGDN) . Uta Brandes has held numerous guest lectures and workshops at international universities (e.g. Tokyo, Nagoya, Fukuoka, Hangzhou, Shanghai, Taipei, Hong Kong, New York, Sydney). She has been a member of many national and international design juries and is also a member of the selection committee of the German National Academic Foundation.

From 2000 to 2006, she was co-organiser of the St. Moritz Design Summit together with Michael Erlhoff.