At this year’s conference of the German Foundation for Design Theory and Research I was invited to speak about the projects I conducted with the University of Arts Berlin in Nairobi, Kenya. In my talk I presented theses and conclusions I draw from the experience of the collaborative work we did there to address a more contemporary, just and realistic approach towards international development and how design could actually contribute towards this change.
The symposium focused on the role of design in social transformation processes. Can futures be designed for the better in a sustainable manner at all? Or will the effects of design interventions always be more or less random reactions to well-intentioned creative acts into otherwise independently evolving autopoietic systems? What is actually »the better«, which we aspire? Should the concept of design be completely rethought?
It was a multi-faceted mind opener. Thanks to the organisers and speakers for two inspiring days.
Two days of various insights into design research methods and reflections on how design should and could position itself within the context of global challenges as a discipline embracing innovation and solution oriented quest were followed by a colloquium of one of the society’s themes “design promoviert”, where PhD-students and aspirants can present their topics and questions for high quality feedback. I did so and with my still very basic state of research and ideas actually initiated a new format to invite novices with the urge to do research into the arena of the academic research community. It was great to talk about my thoughts and receive very empathic and dedicated feedback. Definitely coming around again!
Until September 15 you can still sign up for participation, it’s an innovative conference running October 15/16 at Ex-Rotaprint in Berlin: “Politics for Tomorrow” is aimed at people from politics, administration, education, municipalities, foundations and civil society organizations. We look forward to a variety of perspectives and an exciting exchange. If you wish to participate, the registration form is available via Get Involved on the website menu. The event will be held in German and English with bilingiual interpretation.
Planning to go at least one day, since it’s overlapping with the Politics for Tomorrow Conference…
“In a growing state of omnipresent connectivity, it seems that anything can be potentially connected – anytime, anywhere. We are embedded in a myriad of mundane socio-technical alliances, as humans and non-humans ceaselessly correspond and perform. Therefore, the urgency arises to raise the question: What relationships do we enter in to with our fellow agents, what new positions
do we find ourselves in?
From utopian to dystopian visions and realities: We invite perspectives on the role of design in all of this, on new forms of negotiation with and through things, and on what new analytical frameworks this calls for as we further embark in to these technically mediated futures.
The conference will take place on 16. and 17. of October at the University of Applied Sciences. Potsdam. More information on fees and accomodations will follow:
Sehr gespannt auf den Input im HKW am 18./19. September!
Kann Gestaltung Gesellschaft verändern? Wie können wir in die sich stets fortschreitende Modernisierung emanzipative Ideen einschreiben? Hat sich der Anspruch des Bauhauses und der klassischen Avantgarden, durch Gestaltung Gesellschaft positiv zu verändern, eingelöst? Wie können wir uns heute in neuer Weise vorstellen, Wandel und Zukunft zu gestalten? Was sind gezielte, aber doch ergebnisoffene Arbeitsformen? Welche Rolle spielt Co-Produktion? Wie kann man sein eigenes Dasein gestalten? Welche Rolle kommt dem Gestalter zu? Oder hätte heute eher die Abwesenheit von Gestaltung ein befreiendes Moment?
As the title already assumes there where three topics and their speakers of which for the the third part, discipline, was the most interesting. I was surprised how intensely theoreticised the talks were that dealt mostly with product semantics and the research tradition of the HfG Offenbach, where it was developed. My favourite talk however was given by Gui Bonsiepe, who questioned the efforts of design to step into the traditional academic approach towards becoming a discipline and reminded the auditorium that already in times of the first methodology conferences back at HfG Ulm they had come to the conclusion that design has to be practical.
Due to my autumn flu I unfortunately missed the yearly conference in Dessau which always takes place on the stage in the Bauhaus building. This years topic “space” was investigating our relationship with borders, nearness and distance and atmosphere of the surrounding environment to name just a few.
With my colleague Prof. Katja Thoring and some of the students of her “scientific publishing” class at the MAID program in Dessau we attended the conference at HBK Hamburg. One of my favourite talks was by Florian A. Schmidt, a former fellow student and co-contributor in our publication from 2010 “critical mass”. Not only because we are friends but because he was able to take the auditorium along in his narrative about the maker culture and the crowds, his talk left me with lively images and ideas. Equally rich was the journey by Florian Walzer through the development of the greek term “banaus” to the current understanding of a maker or crafts person. The greatest discovery for my own interest was Prof. Heidrun Allert from Kiel who was talking about pedagogy and design from a perspective of philosophy. She explained the definition of “double loop learning” and stuck in my mind with the sentence: to find oneself useful through making. There were plenty more talks from especially social science specialists that for my taste were a bit too abstract in the context of the theme, yet they all delivered very important statements and insights. Great conference with lots of learnings!
With a ferry the participants of the conference were brought to an estate outside town to attend the talks of designers and craftsmen from all over Europe at Mt. Edgcumbe House. They had several tracks so of course I couldn’t hear all of the talks, thus focused on the pedagogy track. I learned a lot about the current discourse in the field and realized, that not so much had happened since I was into the topic back in 2008/09. Happy to have met Tomas Diez who runs the FabLab in Barcelona and Camille Bosqué who works on her PhD about Hackerspaces. Amazing keynotes by Gareth Neil about his attempt to build non-carbon footprint furniture and by Jaideep Prabhu introducing the indian design approach “jugaad”.
Very excited to travel to Brussels and see my dear friend Nadia, co-founder of the Council of Europe’s project “Edgeryders”, who is one of the main organisers of our second get together. Besides the usual creative barcamp days we will have some appointments at the council and discuss our questions and suggestions with a couple of politicians. With this conference the official part of Edgeryders will come to an end and it very much looks like the community has grown together so intensely that we will continue anyhow.
Supported by the European Commission, Nadia EL-Imam and I are hosting the first “Create Your Own 2011″ event in Berlin — a business symposium and demo exhibition that brings together some of the foremost European thinkers and doers in mass customization, personalization and customer co-design. This networking event shall provide a hub for discussion, showcase experience and offer participants to expand their network with a focus on start-ups and open-minded entrepreneurs in business-to-consumers (BTC) markets.