Director’s word

EDHEA, a unique case in Switzerland

In 2019, our School changed its name. Still in Valais and still open to secondary and tertiary-level students from around the canton and around the world, it is now known as EDHEA, the School of Design and Arts. EDHEA has not just changed its name, it has undergone another more profound change. It has joined the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland – Valais (HES-SO Valais-Wallis), becoming one of its five Schools.

What does this affiliation mean? It means we become part of a network, a source of fruitful exchanges that may result in exciting cross-disciplinary projects. It means we have a bigger voice at regional and national level. It means we can forge relationships with a variety of businesses in the canton, meet the needs of our time and open up and create a dialogue.

What hasn’t changed, however, is the DNA that drives Edhea, an establishment that continues to bring together under one roof a school of applied arts (ED), a member of the Swiss Design Schools) and a school of art teaching at university level (HEA), a situation unique in Switzerland.

Taught at EDHEA since 1998, our graphic design course is one of our mainstays. Its widely recognised upper-secondary programme turns out accomplished designers, preparing them to enter the workplace quickly, or – armed with their Federal Vocational Baccalaureate – to gain a place at art school. Our students are frequently invited to work on projects as part of competitions held by foundations, institutions and businesses around the region.

Our School also gives Federal Vet Diploma-holders the option to study a one-year course leading to a Federal Vocational Baccalaureate in visual arts and applied arts. In addition, we offer a Foundation Course in art and design and a Specialised Baccalaureate in visual arts to prepare students for the competitive examination for admission to art and design schools.

EDHEA’s School of Arts, on the other hand, has been part of HES-SO’s Faculty of Design and Visual Arts for more than ten years. In an environment that encourages study and exchange, students can experiment with numerous disciplines ranging from drawing to digital technology. The art world today encompasses a host of disciplines, with each new form added to its predecessor without putting it in the shade.

Since 2019, EDHEA has chosen to focus more specifically on sound, which has a remarkable place in many artistic practices. Sound is part of video, sound installations, performance, the performing arts and soundtracks, and it remains an essential component of our surroundings. Our Sound unit is thus preparing to open up to collaborations with partner institutions such as music schools in Western Switzerland, EPFL and the Montreux Jazz Festival, and also with the health sciences and engineering schools at HES-SO Valais-Wallis.

After three years of higher education, our students have the opportunity to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree. They then have the option of enrolling for example for the MAPS – Master of Arts in Public Spheres, which has been taught at EDHEA since 2004. This Master’s degree with an international reputation specialises in questioning the relationship that the artist has with the public sphere as a social, political or cultural space.

Lastly, because an artist’s education does not stop at the end of his or her formal studies, EDHEA has formed a network of residencies open to new graduates. These include a pilot residency in Australia which has been set up through our close partnership with Fondation Opale, and a programme at the La Becque Artist Residency in La Tour-de-Peilz.

Today, EDHEA is a design school and a school of art on a friendly scale that is undergoing significant change. Thanks to its teaching staff and celebrated international visiting tutors, it offers students a chance to develop their creativity in areas as varied as graphic design, the visual arts, sound arts and performance arts. This range and this situation are seldom found elsewhere in Western Switzerland. We are delighted to be able to share them with you.

Jean-Paul Felley
EDHEA director