The Victor J. Papanek Foundation at the University of Applied Arts Vienna seeks to advance the understanding of design from the perspective of social responsibility. It supports design as a potentially innovative and creative practice that can transform societies and enhance human well-being; acknowledging, conversely, the role of acritical design in generating negative and dehumanising environments and material worlds. Inspired by Papanek and the students, colleagues, and indigenous peoples who facilitated the genre of “real world” design he advocated, the Papanek Foundation facilitates a critical discourse furthering inclusive and socially-informed contemporary design.
The Papanek Foundation initiates and organises exhibitions and symposia as well as the Victor J. Papanek Lecture. The Foundation holds at its centre the archive and library, which offers a unique perspective on social design practice, open to qualified researchers and students of design by appointment.
Alison J. Clarke is founding director of the Papanek Foundation, having joined the University of Applied Arts Vienna from the Royal College of Art, London to become professor and chair of the design history and theory department. A historian and trained social anthropologist, she publishes widely in the area of design and material culture. Her most recent book project is Victor Papanek: Designer for the Real World (MIT Press, 2021).
Nargess Khodabakhshi administrates the Papanek Foundation combining this with her role as senior lecturer within the department of Design History and Theory, University of Applied Arts Vienna. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Design from the University of Tehran and a Master’s degree in Fine and Studio Arts from the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. In 2023, she received her doctorate in philosophy from the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna.