Established in 2007, the EPFL+ECAL Lab is a unit of the Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), one of the two swiss federal institutes of technology. Its mission is to explore the potential of emerging technologies through design and to offer new areas of creativity to the designers. It fully involves design in the innovation process so as to transform technological performance into a user experience. Design goes far beyond its simplistic reputation of only dealing with aesthetics, by expressing its ability to create meaningful scenarios for use and to place innovation in a social and cultural context.
The EPFL+ECAL Lab was named after its premises, which it shares with its founding partner ECAL/University of art and design Lausanne. EPFL+ECAL Lab also works with other renowned partners and designers depending on the specific theme and requirements of each project: the Royal College of Art in London, ENSCI-Les Ateliers in Paris, the California College of the Arts in San Francisco or Parsons, The New School for Design.
The work of the EPFL+ECAL Lab is mainly managed around projects, with a permanent team harnessing additional specific talent for each new challenge – designers, engineers, scientists and various professions linked to the themes dealt with. At certain project stages, the Lab involves industrial partners to ensure that the best results may better benefit society as a whole, be it in terms of services, products or economic development. However, as with all other EPFL labs, institutes and centres, the strength of the EPFL+ECAL Lab resides in the fact that its work is part of the academic culture of a university – an essential requirement to open up new prospects when dealing with unprecedented areas of research.
The EPFL+ECAL Lab also has a major educational mission to raise the awareness of engineers to design, and that of designers to engineering, through courses as well as projects. The Lab also develops continuing education programmes to investigate new practices.