Master Data Design

How can designers make sense of this mad MADD world?

A hands on experience about crafting information and making a change
Master in Data Design video directed by Domestic Data Streamers, Lucca Genua y Codea

So, now that we’ve access to almost everything, anywhere, anytime… Do we know the world any better?

We’ve generated, collected and stored more data last year than in the 5.000 previous years of recorded human history. We didn’t have the technology to register reality like that (or for as much selfie), but now we do. And we are suckers for it.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean  that our societies are  better informed. Data alone masks the reality it describes, blurs meaning  and dumbs down emotions.

Hard to figure out what two degrees of average temperature rise means, or a transmission rate of 1.5… or one million deaths, for that matter.

In a world of flat-earthers and “alternative facts”, transform data into comprehensible and honest information is, more than a bare necessity, a matter of societal survival.

In the MADD we explore design, data analysis, visualization and storytelling practices to create projects beyond classical formats. We work to understand how we can generate transcendent information, in a moment when fake news are a political weapon, cryptocurrency threatens traditional finance and climate change is an opinion.

Our role as designers is key to create the tools that help our societies navigate this chaotic scenario; at MADD we’ll learn to design comprehensible and empathic systems, able to extract meaning and to communicate using a wide range of tools alongside a team of teachers, active professionals, with a passion for what they do and a joy for sharing.

At MADD we do collaborate. Creatives, designers, social scientists and all the professionals teaching lectures, courses and workshops work closely with the participants, usher them in the process of bringing their ideas to light and making them happen.

We will work hands-on, on semester and quarterly projects, we will combine reflection and debate with active participation on theoretical subjects, we will have express – experience oriented capsules and workshops. All that so that your portfolio grows from the first moment.

Above all, pushing the margins of design, unorthodoxy, discovery and exploration will mark a learning experience focused on a range of very diverse topics; as much as the participants themselves.

We will seek to create real connections between people and information, between design and content, to offer the world new ways of thinking. We will highlight stories, real ones, not Instagram’s. Well… those too.

The city of Barcelona will be the backdrop and stage of this experience in critical spirit; We will go out on the street and the street will enter the master’s degree.

So… Do you want to make sense of this MADD world with us?

What do we do?

You will be part of a committed and motivated group of designers, researchers, thinkers and storytellers in a hands-on collaborative learning experience. You will be able to develop your ideas, working on projects tackling real problems.

We will address very different disciplines: from sociology, communication strategy or cartography, to audiovisual research methods and data science. 

We will crossover them with a critical perspective and grounded always in design methodology.

Together we will answer questions like …

— How can data influence our perception of reality?

— How can we analyze data and work with it in a productive way?

— How flexible is the data and in how many ways can we represent it?

— How can data and design help communities shed some light on and improve their realities?


The designer of the future will be able to approach symbols as we approach the reality they represent. If you read and speak through data, you will be able to understand and shape part of our world.

How do we do it?


Designers always work in teams. Big or small, multidisciplinary or not, collective work is the core of our practice; To know how to behave and interact with colleagues, clients or suppliers is an integral part of the design process.

Practical approach

Through a constant and intense practical approach (yes, even in those more theoretical classes), the experts and professionals in charge of the subjects will share their tools and know-how not only to learn but, also and above all, to put the acquired skills into practice.

Critical thinking

How can we be good designers without questioning the world we live in?

We firmly believe in the value of being critical, trying always to find the reasons behind our  certainties and constantly looking for a way to improvement.

From design

Design is a transversal discipline capable of affecting and influencing very different realities and contexts; that’s how we understand it. It is not just a way of doing things, but also a way of thinking with infinite possibilities. This approach will boost your master’s experience; you will see very different methods and forms of design, and you will understand their adaptability and power to influence reality.


Data is one of the main engines of the world; Society will increasingly need designers who know how to work with it and treat it honestly and beautifully.

Detailed program


Six modules will provide a basis and a shared perspective on Information Design and Data Visualization, while we think on what kind of images we produce and put them in practice.


❶① Data as raw material – Statistics

Data analysis is the first step of our work. Extracting meaning from cold facts, recognizing patterns, reaching informed conclusions and representing it all in the most suitable way is essential in an open yet rigorous approach to data.


❶② Space as data – Cartography

Maps are the foundation of many information design projects, both as a complementary source and as a tool for better understanding. We’ll learn about the use of cartography and its cultural significance and we will begin to familiarize ourselves with the basic concepts of mapmaking.


❶③ The hidden link – Networks

Social networking platforms have given space to new forms of relationships between human beings. The availability of big data about these interactions makes it possible to investigate new social phenomena. This course will cover theory and methods of network science and digital method tools to provide students with key resources to develop a project based on social network analysis techniques.



❶④ Data Visualization

An introduction to data visualization, bringing together the key concepts and methodologies that can be applied to any project. Students will discover the wide range of information graphics that are available and focus on the most common graphs, maps, diagrams, and other charts, how and when to use them, and how to interpret them.

❶⑤ Data Representation

Data Visualization we call it… but they are just pictures. We look at a simple line-graph like we look at a selfie. It proves something – I was there – and tells something –this is how I want you to see me. In this course we will examine and practice the graphic representation of data from it’s very abstract basics to the subtleties of its meaning and the elusive intentions of its authors.

❹⑥ Visual Explanation

In a society propelled by data-driven experiences, we sometimes get to a certain state of numbness that makes most of the data in our life become noise. Everyday we are bombarded with tons of data and a vast amount of complexities that no one makes an effort to unpack for us properly. The power of good design can make abstract issues understandable despite differences in language and culture or format constraints. Nothing better than a visual explanation to overcome complexity.

Master Project

During a whole semester, you will have the opportunity to make your ideas come true, put into practice what you have learned during the course and use the city of Barcelona as a field for experimentation, data collection and laboratory.


❷① Data Experience

You will develop a personal design project that explores how to create meaningful ways of connecting people and information through a multidisciplinary approach.

The main objective of this subject is to develop design projects that are able to have a human approach to data and communication; to bring to reality projects that use data-science but also qualitative and ethnographic research methods that uncover people’s emotions, stories, and models of their world.

❷② Data Communication





❷③ Theoretical and methodological research framework


❷④ Design Crit

Critical sessions of informal discussion on the outstanding and perfectible points of the Master Project with guests professors and the codirectors of the MADD. The critique considers the work in relation to the previously defined goals and objectives, and explores why decisions are made and how effective (or not) they are in the context of the project.


Things don’t just happen; the information that we live surrounded by has been mediated and handpicked, it has context and purpose. We will study the design of information through a critical lens, with the certainty that it can be read in many ways and affects us in many others. Sociology, philosophy, and cultural analysis will help us shed some inquisitive light on a world made up of information.

❸① Critical Media
Understanding the emergent, accidental and amorphous nature of our networked planet implies a transdisciplinary approach, and some of our traditional assumptions need to be challenged. A collective exercise to review what means to be human and its relationship with what we call nature and technology. As traditional categories are failing to grasp our ever-changing present, we won’t hesitate to experiment with concepts and ideas, as well as taking the risk to jump into the blurriness.

❸② Data Boundaries

A practical examination of strategies to uncover, describe, map, inhabit, and even rethink data-based systems. Our society, and planet Earth in general, has turned into a multi-layered, opaque and often accidental entanglement of infrastructures, protocols and lifeforms. We use them to observe and they observe us. By exploring the back alleys and the irregular stitching of the megamachine we’ll be able to tell different stories, expose injustice, and conjure up alternatives.

❸③ Data for the Common Good

Small words for a massive subject. Can we make sense of the amount of data we generate? Is data really intangible? Do algorithms inherit our biases? We will dive deep in one of the realities of our time.

❸④ Audiovisual

Information plus time equals movies. Beyond infographics and motion graphics, the moving image means using techniques as old as the medium itself; simple, but constantly renewed to serve new purposes. By comparison, transformation, accumulation, editing or manipulation of speed and scale, the moving image is a perfect vehicle for communicating the complexities and nuances of data.


❸⑤ Storytelling

We are made of stories (and bones and water, but also stories). We understand societies through them; they have been the traditional way of explaining

the world. From mythology to Netflix, tales are embedded in our DNA. Therefore, it’s very important to learn how they work; stories will make designs and projects relatable to others, and they will help spread game changing ideas in a reality that is now more demanding than ever.



Information design is like a “matryoshka”; within each problem are smaller individual problems. We will work on some of them with the help of experts in tutored projects that address specific topics.

① Information Systems

Cities are worlds; complex systems that we share with other beings and things. In this project we will work using Barcelona, it’s urban environment, as a theme and creating graphic tools that will help us solve some of the main challenges it faces.



❹② Data Beyond Screens

Light allows us to extend our field of action into space itself. We’re no longer constrained by the boundaries of paper, screen frames or objects; we can use three-dimensional space as a canvas for data visualization. We can think of massive scales, far distance sighting or interactivity, opening up a new set of possibilities to explore.



❹③ Symbolic Alphabet / Iconography

We need language to communicate. Thus, we need alphabets too. We will create coherent symbolic systems that are the foundation of many information design projects. You will learn how to build a symbolic alphabet that allows ideas to be transferred to forms adapted to the social and physical context and to analyze, interpret, synthesize and construct alphabets in a precise and functional way in order to communicate ideas without words.





Learning by doing: intensive and practical design experiences on central problems of data design.

❺① Who’s Afraid Of Technology?

Technology is essential to understand how our contemporary society works. Technology plays an important role not only improving (or not) our daily lives, but also gathering, analyzing and visualizing almost all kinds of information. You will learn the basics of programming in Arduino and Raspberry, how to choose the best platform to solve a technological project, and the basics to hack an analog automatism.


❺② Data Journalism

Is an interdisciplinary practice which combine editorial design, UX, web design, data visualization, interaction design, visual storytelling, and narrative to explain the complexity of contemporary phenomena to a broader audience in a more engaging and approachable way.


Degree Show

The last MADD workshop consists of showing the public the experiences of the course through different formats. In this case, the students are faced with a real and complete expository and editorial project, an intense process that takes place in a tight time and that culminates in the Degree Show.


Data is everywhere; in how we move and what we listen to. We will explore different fields in which data and information are present and, also, how they configure their environment.

❻① Data & Nature

Data & Drawing

The human gaze has been, since prehistoric times, a data collection tool. What we see and describe contains all the information we can name… and all the information we can sense. We will use the methods and tools of drawing to turn that sensitive knowledge into expression, to turn data into information that inevitably contains emotions and desires.

Data & Performance

Blurring the boundaries between disciplines is one of the foundations of the MADD. Our voice, our bodies are tools and the space we inhabit is our medium in this bold approach to data visualization.

❻④ Data & Processing
We will take the first steps towards audiovisual language through code; we will explore the foundations of creative programming and we will investigate the different numerical conditioning strategies with which we will be able to work with data and transform it into light, sound, movement or poetry.

❻⑤ Data & Sound

By working with data sets, real-time inputs and generative sound systems, we create sound pieces that relate to their environment. Concepts and techniques such as “data sonification”, “sound spatialization” and the development of synthesis engines that allow us to shape sound in a flexible and innovative way. You will work developing your own software in a visual programming environment.


To listen is to learn. Specially, when professionals, emerging or consolidated, share their life experience through their professional career. Inspiration has to find you working, but also listening.

❼① International lectures

We invite prestigious international figures to give a conference that allows MADD members to learn first-hand about experiences, projects and case studies in different fields of graphic design.

 Masters’ Talks
We organize talks with leading creators from different fields that allow us to share experiences, observe design phenomena, obtain new points of view, reflections and references that enrich our interdisciplinary perspective on design.

In the interest of continuous improvement to the programme and the professional qualifications of our teachers, we reserve the right to make changes to the content and faculty of the Master’s programme.

Where do we do it?

A 4 day trip to a hackathon

MADD offers the possibility to seek inspiration on a 4-day hackathon trip* to a European city where you will have the possibility to work day and night hand in hand with your classmates and your teachers. We will develop a real project and put into practice everything you have been learning during the previous months.

* Not included in the registration.


Barcelona: urban lab

Barcelona is an amazing place to live and work. The rents may be a bit expensive, but that doesn’t stop you from enjoying creative people, lots of studios, different cultures and ideas. She is open minded and understands the design. Barcelona will be our laboratory, the place to research, create, develop and design.


Work on real projects creating a real impact between communities

Design is an applied discipline. One of the main objectives of MADD is to work through active learning based mainly on simulations inspired by real projects. This will allow us to understand and assess the tricks and real possibilities of the discipline and apply, from day one, everything you learn to your work.


A city by and for design

Barcelona is known for its passion for design (and for the bad sangria on the Rambla, but we’ll talk about that another day). It is a city with a great diversity of nuances in gastronomy, culture and events, which is perfectly complemented by the master’s degree. Barcelona will inspire you and make your learning a complete experience.


“MADD means devoting time to analyzing what you currently do and what you want to do next. The master’s degree offers an unusual set of resources that are key to interpreting reality and collaborating in its construction, using data as a material and design as a tool”. Paula López-Nuño, MADD 20

Practical information

Who is it for?

Due to its particular transdisciplinary nature, MADD is open to professionals and students from different educational backgrounds and experiences. It is mainly aimed at:

– Graphic designers

– Journalists and editors

– Social scientists

– Digital Product Designers

– Architects and urban planners


Knowledge or experience required

A bachelor’s degree is not essential to take this master’s degree; we value professional experience as much as college education. If you still have doubts about whether you would fit in or not, just go ahead, submit your request and we will resolve it on a case-by-case basis.

Number of students

Each year a maximum of 20 students are selected.
Once the registration period is open, there is a rolling candidate selection process as preregistrations become effective.

Editions and languages

A single edition of the master is held each academic year.

MADD, Master Data & Design

The course is taught in English.


Master’s Degree in Data & Design, degree awarded by Universitat de Vic – Universitat Central de Catalunya (UVic-UCC) and ELISAVA Barcelona School of Design and Engineering

Leading team
Thais Caballero, Coordinator
Pau García, Codirector
Paadín, Codirector
Marc Panero, Codirector
Start date
September 2022
ETCS credits
Course length
400 hours 
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
From 5pm to 9.15 pm.
Workshops from Monday to Friday.
Tuition fee
Academic year 2022-2023
12,500 €
(plus 450 € in registrations fees)
*For academic reasons, sessions may be scheduled exceptionally outside these hours.

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