Dr Helga Schmid
School of Communication
- Communication Art & Design
Pathway Leader (acting)
- MRes RCA: Communication Design Pathway
In my work, I open up a new world of temporality (lived time) situated at the intersection of design, sociology and chronobiology. As the founder of Uchronia, a design research practice and platform, I explore the multifaceted nature of time in an academic and public context.
Dr Helga Schmid is an artist/designer, researcher and lecturer. Currently, she is a Designer in Residence at the Design Museum in London. Her research centres on opening up a new world of temporality (lived time) situated at the intersection of design, sociology and chronobiology. As the founder of Uchronia, a design research practice and platform, she explores the multifaceted nature of time in an academic and public context.
Dr Helga Schmid is an artist/designer, researcher and lecturer. She has worked as a researcher in the Architecture and Design department at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and internationally as an artist/designer on high-profile projects, including the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Royal Academy of Arts and the British Museum. Her work has been exhibited and featured in publications, blogs and magazines worldwide, such as the Whitechapel Gallery London, Dia Art Foundation in New York, Istanbul Design Biennial and DMY Berlin. In 2018 she was a Designer in Residence at the Design Museum in London. She has received a number of international awards including the Type Directors Award, Art Directors Award, Best German Books Award as well as a Fulbright scholarship and two DAAD scholarships. Helga has a background as a communication designer, holding a postgraduate degree from the University of Applied Sciences in Augsburg, and a Master’s degree from the School of Visual Arts in New York.Show more
Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes
Schmid, H. (2019). ‘Zeitgeber in der Zeitkrise Überlegungen zu einer alternativen Wahrnehmung von Zeit’,in Mareis, C., Blümle, C. and Windgätter, C. (eds.), Bildwelten des Wissens: Visuelle Zeitgestaltung. Berlin: De Gruyter.
Schmid, H. Uchronia. Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag , 2019 (Monograph in press)
Schmid, H., (2018). ‘Utopia and Uchronia: A New Experimental Approach in Thinking about Time’, in Erlhoff, M. and Jonas, W. (eds.), Nerd - New Experimental Research in Design (Board of International Research in Design) (German Edition). Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag.
Schmid, H., (2018). ‘Embodiment of Space’, in G. Brooker, G., Harriss, H. and Walker, K. (eds.), Interior Futures. Yountville, CA: Crucible Press.
Schmid, H., (2017), ‘Embodiment of Time’, in Boradhurst, S. and Price, S. (eds.), Digital Bodies: Creativity and Technology in the Arts and Humanities (Palgrave Studies in Performance and Technology). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
2019: Circadian Space, Z33 House for Contemporary Art, Hasselt, B
2019: Designing Time, Design Museum, London, UK
2018-2019: DiR Exhibition, Design Museum London, UK
2018-2019: Circadian Space, School of Time, Istanbul Bienniale, Turkey
2018: Uchronia Workshop, School of Time, Istanbul Bienniale, Turkey
2018: When a Tree Falls in the Forest, Griszendale Forest, UK
2017: Escape Time: Friday Late, Victoria & Albert Museum London, UK
2017: RCA Show 2017, Royal College of Art, London, UK
Selected conferences and public talks
2018: Radio Serpentine: Dream, Sleep and Work, 2018 Work Marathon, London, UK
2018: Artist Talk: School of Schools, Istanbul Design Biennial, Turkey
2018: 10x10, British Arts Council, Design Museum, London, UK
2018: The Future of Work: Time, YCN, London, UK
2018: Re:publica 2018 – POP, Berlin, D
2018: Risk Society, Design Museum, London, UK
2018: Z33: House for Contemporary Art: ThinkLab 2, @ WTC25, Brussels, B
2017: Strategy Salon: The Future of the Museum, Design Museum, London, UK
2017: Escape Time: Friday Late at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK
2017: Society of Light and Lighting, BDP, London, UK
2017: Woman in Light and Lighting, Arup, London, UK
2016: Communicating the Intangible, London Design Week, London, UK
2015: Zündfunk Netzkongress 15, Bayern 2, Volkstheater Munich, D
2015: European Biological Rhythms Society, Congress University Manchester, UK
2015: Time, Materiality and the Digital, University of Greenwich, London, UK
2013: Life (Bildung), ‘Hack the Barbican’, Barbican Centre, London, UK
Awards and Grants
(2018) Designer in Residence, Design Museum, London.
(2018) Professorship-Programme for outstanding artists and researchers, University of the Arts Berlin.
(2013–2014) PhD Scholarship, DAAD, German Academic Exchange Service.
(2009–2010) Postgraduate Scholarship, DAAD.
(2008–2009) Fulbright Scholarship.
(2010) Type Directors Award, New York.
(2009) Type Directors Award, New York.
(2009) Art Directors Award, New York.
(2009) Output Award, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
(2008) Best German Book Design, Stiftung Buchkunst, Frankfurt, Germany.
Helga’s interdisciplinary research explores new roles, contexts
and approaches in relation to social, cultural and ethical impact of existing
and emerging technologies, especially in relation to time. The goal of her
research is to inspire a debate about the impact of technological futures on
our lives, especially in regards to acceleration processes in today’s
- The perception of having ‘no time’ is not only an individual issue. It is an essential, structural concern within Western societies, which needs to be addressed in the politics of time.
- Technologies shape and are shaped by society. They are neither the problem nor the solution.
- Deadlines – not bound to any laws or regulations – cross all the boundaries of labor and leisure, public and private, across all time zones.
- We are imprisoned in our own system of clocks and calendars, even so it is only one element in the interplay of temporality (lived time).
- Time is the true metric for human satisfaction and welfare, rather than economic prosperity.
- Now is the time to question our existing working patterns and our current temporal structure.
- Now is the time to unlearn clock time and gain temporal freedom.
- No one can hold us back from consciously experimenting with the design of time, on an individual and societal level.
- Time is like an orchestra. It is about the right timing, with time spans reaching from one moment up to deep time.
- It is time for Uchronia, the temporal Utopia.
Current and recent research
No single object could better symbolise the dominance of social time in Western societies than the alarm clock. It interrupts the physical need for sleep and interferes with our body clock. Contemporary life is dictated by external time-givers (societal expectations day and night), but what happens if we concentrate on our body and individual time signature?
The project Circadian Space investigates an alternative time system based on the circadian rhythm. In collaboration with chronobiologists and sociologists of time, it involves the construction of a temporary architectural space representing the body clock. Hours, minutes and seconds are meant to recede in importance as the space becomes the clock. Predetermined standards of spaces are de-programmed, not only in their functionality but also in the way these spaces are inhabited, offering a future perspective on dwelling.
Commission by School of Time, Z33 – House of Contemporary Art, Hasselt, Belgium and the Design Museum London, 2018/19.
Uchronia / The Temporal Utopia
The book is situated within contemporary debates on the nature of temporality, often denoted as time crisis or dyschronia. By investigating the topic of time through an interdisciplinary approach of design, chronosociology and chronobiology, Helga suggests a new practical design initiative: chronodesign.
Monograph, Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel, upcoming in July 2019.