Papanek Symposium 2019
Real World: Design, Politics, Future
Porto Design Biennale, Portugal
Design is in crisis: Or, at the very least, in massive transition, exploring and rediscovering its potential during deeply problematic times. Real World: Design, Politics, Future the Papanek Symposium 2019, investigates design’s inherent tensions in the context of rising global far-right populism and the asphyxiating manipulation of information in a post-truth era.
What potential is there for envisaging alternative political futures, and what role might design, and its politics, have in contributing to those futures? Strands of contemporary design practice proffer a critical, and often apocalyptic and dystopic vision of the future, while others happily conform to a financial system that demands a new consumable product for each and every multifarious context. The stakes for design have never been higher, as its interventions are dispersed across all aspects of the informational, virtual and material strata that shape our real worlds.
The Papanek Symposium 2019, organised by Alison J. Clarke and Francisco Laranjo in partnership with the Porto Design Biennale, debates both the future, and the future of design: the places, ideas and means by which the politics of design, and the design of politics come together. Speakers include Ramia Mazé, Flavia Dzodan, Akwugo Emejulu, Natsai Audrey Chieza, Sasha Costanza-Chock, Ahmed Ansari, Cameron Tonkinwise and Annelys de Vet. A series of workshops and open forums will be led by the Decolonising Design Group.
Public event, free of charge. Event conducted in English language.
Venue: Biblioteca Municipal Almeida Garrett, Porto, Portugal.
Ahmed Ansari is a doctoral candidate and lecturer in Design Studies at Carnegie Mellon University. His research interests intersect between design studies, cultural theory, and the philosophy and history of technology in the Indian subcontinent – specifically, he is interested in South Asian cosmologies and ontologies, with a focus on Indian conceptions of creativity and (mediated) affect, looking at theories of rasa of the Dhvani School and the Ishraqi School (Illuminationism). He is also a member of the Decolonising Design platform, and a founder of the Architecture Design Research Lab in Karachi. He teaches courses at CMU in systems thinking, design and culture, and philosophy of technology at Carnegie Mellon, US.
Natsai Audrey Chieza is a designer, change-maker, and TED speaker working at the intersection of creative and biotechnology industries. She is Founder and Director of Faber Futures, a London-based biodesign lab that is catalysing the alignment of DNA-scale engineering with the methods and principles of critical design thinking for the circular economy. Her manifesto lays out how this emerging technology converges with craft and interacts with the contemporary realities of resource scarcity, climate change, and sustainable development. Natsai’s pioneering design-driven practice with bacteria pigments for sustainable textile finishing has been exhibited at prestigious institutions internationally and sits in permanent collections including at the Forbes Pigment Collection at Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge MA. She has taught on biodesign programmes at Bartlett School of Architecture and Central Saint Martins in London, and was honoree of OkayAfrica’s 100 Women in 2018 for her work in STEM.
Sasha Costanza-Chock (pronouns: they/them or she/her) is a scholar, activist, and media-maker, and currently Associate Professor of Civic Media at MIT. They are a Faculty Associate at the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, Faculty Affiliate with the MIT Open Documentary Lab and the MIT Center for Civic Media, and creator of the MIT Codesign Studio. Their work focuses on social movements, transformative media organizing, and design justice. Sasha’s first book, Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets: Transmedia Organizing and the Immigrant Rights Movement (2014) was published by the MIT Press. They are a board member of Allied Media Projects (AMP); AMP convenes the annual Allied Media Conference and cultivates media strategies for a more just, creative and collaborative world.
Flavia Dzodan is a writer, media analyst and cultural critic based in Amsterdam. She is a lecturer and research fellow at the Critical Studies department at the Sandberg Institute. Her research is focused on the politics of Artificial Intelligence and algorithms at the intersections of (neo)colonialism, race and gender. In her research Flavia examines the ways that technology is created and deployed to reproduce historical patterns of social control. She is the editor of the blog This Political Woman, where she has written about the rise of the alt-right, Big Data, networks, algorithms and community surveillance. She has been published at Dissent Magazine, The Guardian and The Washington Post among others.
Akwugo Emejulu is Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick. Her research interests include the political sociology of race, class and gender and women of colour’s grassroots activism in Europe and the United States. She is the author of several books including Minority Women and Austerity: Survival and Resistance in France and Britain (Policy Press, 2017) and Fugitive Feminism (Silver Press, 2020). She is co-editor of To Exist is to Resist: Black Feminism in Europe (Pluto Press 2019). Akwugo is the co-principal investigator of the Open Society Foundation research project, Women of Colour Resist, a six-nation study which examines how women of colour are organising for justice in this moment of far-right backlash across Europe.
Ramia Mazé specializes in participatory and critical practices of design. She is Professor of New Frontiers in Design at Aalto University in Finland. Previously in Sweden, she worked at Konstfack College of Arts Crafts and Design, KTH Royal Institute of Technology School of Architecture, the national PhD school Designfakulteten, and the Interactive Institute. A designer and architect by training, her PhD is in interaction design. She has led, published and exhibited widely through major interdisciplinary and international practice-based design research projects, most recently in areas of social innovation, sustainable design, design policy and activism. Recent projects include ‘Designing Social Innovation’ survey of projects in the US and Europe, and the cultural program and book DESIGN ACT Socially- and politically-engaged design today.
Cameron Tonkinwise is the Director of the Design Innovation Research Centre at the University of Technology Sydney; formerly Director of Design Studies and Doctoral Studies at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design, Associate Dean of Sustainability at Parsons The New School for Design and co-chair of the Tishman Environment and Design Center at the New School in NYC. His primary area of research and teaching is Sustainable Design. Cameron is widely published on the ways in which Service Design can advance Social Sustainability by decoupling use and ownership – what these days is referred to as the ‘Sharing Economy.’ Cameron’s current focus, in collaboration with colleagues at CMU and an international network of scholar-practitioners, is Transition Design – design-enabled multi-level, multi-stage structural change toward more sustainable futures.
Annelys de Vet is a Belgium based Dutch designer, curator and initiator. De Vet’s work explores the role of design in relation to the public and political discourse. Since 2009 she has headed the MA in Design ‘Think Tank for Visual Strategies’ at the Sandberg Instituut. She is the founding and artistic director of the thought provoking design label Disarming Design from Palestine, generating useful products from Palestine that spread alternative narratives about life under occupation. Since 2003, she has initiated Subjective Editions that map countries from a human perspective; including Subjective Atlas of Palestine (2007), Subjective Atlas of Colombia (2015), Subjective Atlas of Brussels (2018) and Subjective Atlas of Pakistan (2018). She co-curated the exhibition Unmapping the World (2014) on critical contemporary mapping practices, for the ExperimentaDesign Biennale, Lisbon, Portugal.
Decolonising Design Group was founded in 2016 by eight design researchers, artists, and activists stemming from or with ties to the Global South, as a response to Euro- and Anglocentric socio-technical politics and pedagogies of design as both a field of research and praxis. The group does not aim to offer an “alternative perspective” on design, but rather to question the very foundations upon which the discipline was established.