Design and Ethics

Papanek Symposium 2017

22 September

Austrian Embassy,

18 Belgrave Square, London, UK

Questions of design and ethics take on a new currency, form and prescience in a post-industrial, ‘post-truth’ landscape. The technological shifts that have re-organised work through the automation of labour are intimately connected to global social problems relating to immigration, racial and gender politics. New classifications of intelligence, ‘artificial’, ‘alternative’ and ‘false’, are produced and consumed through the design and management of infrastructures of information. Meanwhile, new experts in algorithmic cultures, engineering and synthetic biology pursue the application of these forms of intelligence in medicine, security, health and social care as practical solutions to complex social problems.   

Design and architecture occupy a powerful and precarious responsibility within this complexity, which goes beyond mere application and facilitation.  

Papanek Symposium 2017, Design and Ethics, Austrian Embassy, London

The Papanek Symposium 2017 considers the deeply embedded social and political implications of design; a practice which can be so vulnerable to co-option and yet conversely so valuable as a form of dissent.   It explores the unique position of design practice and research- contemporary, historical and anthropological-to address questions of ethics in design. Bringing academics and designers into dialogue, it aims to generate new ideas and critical thinking on the state of ethics in design and architecture today.   

The first session, Bio-Synthetics and Artificial Intelligence, chaired by Professor Chris Csíkszentmihályi, ERA Chair and Scientific Director, Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute, Portugal includes the speakers: Jan Boelen, Artistic Director Z33, House for Contemporary Art, Hasselt, Belgium; David Breummer, Roboticist and Co-Founder of 5D Robotics, San Diego, California; Dr Bianca Elzenbaumer, Associate Professor in Design Research at Leeds College of Art; Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Designer, Artist and Writer, Experimental Synthetic Biology, Royal College of Art, London.  

The second session, Algorithmic Cultures , chaired by Corinna Gardner, Acting Keeper, Design, Architecture and Digital, Victoria and Albert Museum, London includes the panelists: Dr Orit Halpern, Associate Professor Sociology and Anthropology, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada; Dr Alison Powell, Assistant Professor and Programme Director of MSc Media and Communication, London School of Economics; Matthias Tarasiewicz, New Media Artist and Technology Theorist, Vienna; Professor Eyal Weizman, Architect, Professor of Spatial and Visual Cultures and Director of Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London. 

The event is organised by Prof. Alison J. Clarke  and Dr. Leah Armstrong, hosted by His Excellency Dr. Martin Eichtinger, Austrian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Austrian Embassy UK and supported by Dr. Gerald Bast, Rector of the University of Applied Arts Vienna.  An Official Partner of London Design Festival 2017  the Papanek Symposium 2017 is supported by the FWF (Austrian Science Fund) research project award ‘Émigré Cultural Networks and the Founding of Social Design’, in the Department of Design History & Theory, University of Applied Arts Vienna. 


Alison J. Clarke

Prof. Alison J. Clarke is Chair of Design History and Theory, University of Applied Arts Vienna, and founding director of the Papanek Foundation. Distinction graduate of the Royal College of Art London, PhD social anthropology UCL, her recent publications include Design Anthropology: Object Cultures in Transition (2017), Émigré Cultures in Design and Architecture (2017) and essay contributions to major design exhibition catalogues including Hippie Modernism, Walker Art Center  (2015) and So You Say You Want a Revolution?, V&A (2016). A Graham Foundation grantee, Alison is presently completing a MIT Press monograph exploring Victor Papanek and 1970s design activism and co-curating, with Vitra Design Museum, the exhibition Victor Papanek: The Politics of Design (2018).

Leah Armstrong

Dr. Leah Armstrong is Senior Lecturer in Design History, University of Applied Arts Vienna and Head of Archive at the Papanek Foundation. She previously held research and teaching posts at the University of Brighton, the Glasgow School of Art and the V&A, London, where she co-curated the Design Culture Salons. Her research interests focus on professionalisation and the politics of work in design. She is co-editor of forthcoming volume Fashioning Professionals (2017) and her work has been published in the Journal of Design History (2015) and Journal of Consumer Culture (forthcoming). She was recently awarded a Smithsonian Fellowship to undertake research in the special collections of the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, New York.

Jan Boelen

Jan Boelen graduated as a product designer at the Media and Design Academy, Belgium. He currently holds the position of artistic director at Z33, house for contemporary art, Belgium. He is artistic director of Atelier LUMA, an experimental design laboratory in Arles, France, and head of the Masters Department Social Design at the Design Academy Eindhoven, Netherlands. On behalf of the Constant Deputies of the Province of Limburg, Jan Boelen reformed the Provincial Centre for the Visual Arts into Z33, a house for contemporary art. In 2014 Jan Boelen curated BIO50, the 24th Biennial of Design in Ljubljana, Slovenia and is currently leading a series of international debates on the future of design.

David Bruemmer

David Bruemmer provides leadership and vision as CTO of 5D. He has patented robotic technologies for landmine detection, urban search and rescue, decontamination of radioactive environments, air and ground teaming, facility security and a variety of autonomous mapping solutions. Bruemmer has authored over 60 publications and has been awarded 20 patents in robotics and positioning. He recently won the South by Southwest Pitch competition and the R&D 100 Award and the Stoel Reeves Innovation award. Before co-founding 5D, he led robotics research at the Idaho National Lab for a multi-million dollar R&D portfolio and served as a consultant to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Christopher Csíkszentmihályi

Prof. Christopher Csíkszentmihályi is a scholar and technologist. He is currently Scientific Head of the Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute, where he is also a professor and directs the Critical Technical Practice Lab. He previously cofounded and directed the MIT Center for Future Civic Media, dedicated to developing technologies that strengthen communities and he founded the MIT Media Lab’s Computing Culture group, which worked to create unique media technologies for sociocultural and personal political applications. He is on the steering committee of the Digital Civics centre, Newcastle, and DATACTIVE at U. Amsterdam. Csíkszentmihályi also directs the RootIO project, a radio-as-a-service platform of community FM radio stations in rural areas of Uganda and Cabo Verde.

Bianca Elzenbaumer

Dr. Bianca Elzenbaumer is an associate professor at Leeds College of Art and co-founder of Brave New Alps (together with Fabio Franz). In her work she combines design research methods with radical pedagogy, conflict mediation and DIY making and explores how designers can contribute to create ecologically and socially just economies. Her current work includes Precarity Pilot, an online platform addressing issues faced by precarious designers; Mapping Eco-Social Design where she investigates the organisational structures that make transformative design practices viable and COMUNfARE, a practice-led research on commons and community economies in the Italian Alps.

Corinna Gardner

Corinna Gardner is Acting Keeper of the Design, Architecture and Digital Department at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Corinna leads the collecting and exhibition programme for contemporary design and holds responsibility for the museum’s Rapid Response Collecting activities. She is also part of the team developing the curatorial strategy for V&A East, a new museum and collections centre in east London. In 2015, Corinna co-curated All of This Belongs to You, an exhibition about the design of public life and the role institutions play in shaping informed debate. She previously worked at Barbican Art Gallery, on exhibitions including OMA: Progress, Bauhaus: Art as Life, Random International’s Rain Room and Cory Arcangel’s Beat the Champ.

Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg

Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg is an artist and designer investigating design, science and technology. She  explores aesthetics and ethics  with  scientists, engineers, artists, designers, social scientists, museums and industry.  Lead author of  Synthetic  Aesthetics: Investigating Synthetic Biology’s Designs on Nature  (MIT Press, 2014),  Better,  Daisy’s PhD by practice at London’s Royal College of Art examines  the construction of the  social imaginary of “better” and how it shapes  what we make.  She received the World Technology Award (Design) in 2011, the first London Design Medal for Emerging Talent (2012) and her work has been twice nominated for Designs of The Year (2011, 2015).

Orit Halpern

Dr. Orit Halpern is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University. Her work bridges the histories of science, computing, and cybernetics with design and art practice. She is also a co-director of the Speculative Life Research Cluster, a laboratory situated at the intersection of art and the life sciences, architecture and design, and computational media. Her recent monograph, Beautiful Data (2015), is a history of interactivity, data visualization, and ubiquitous computing. She has also published and created works for a variety of venues including e-flux, Grey Room, Rhizome, The Journal of Visual Culture, Public Culture, and ZKM in Karlsruhe, Germany.

Alison Powell

Dr. Alison Powell is Assistant Professor in Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Programme Director of the MSc in Media and Communication (Data & Society). Her research examines how people’s values influence the way technology is built and how discourses, practices and governance structures are produced in relation to new technological systems. She has held posts at Telecom ParisTech and the Oxford Internet Institute. Her most recent collaborative funded research is VIRT-EU, a Horizon 2020 project examining ethics in practice among Internet of Things developer communities.

Matthias Tarasiewicz

Matthias Tarasiewicz is active as a digital bricoleur, project manager, researcher and technology theorist and works in the fields of artistic technologies, open hardware and cryptocurrencies. He currently is board chair of the Research Institute for Arts and Technology in Vienna, Austria and board member of the Open Source Hardware Association (USA). Tarasiewicz has led research projects including Artistic Technology Research with the University of Applied Arts Vienna, Making Artistic Technology and AXIOM – Open Hardware Cinema. His publications include Faceless: Re-inventing Privacy Through Subversive Media Strategies (2017), Openism: Conversations in Open Hardware (2016) and Coded Cultures (2011).

Eyal Weizman

Prof. Eyal Weizman is an architect, Professor of spatial and visual cultures, Director of the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London and Global Professor at Princeton University. In 2010 he established the research agency Forensic Architecture (FA). In 2007 he set up, with Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti, the architectural collective DAAR in Beit Sahour/Palestine. In 2013 he designed a permanent folly in Gwangju, South Korea which was documented in the book The Roundabout Revolution (2015). Weizman is on the editorial board of Third Text, Humanity, Cabinet and Political Concepts and is on the board of directors of the Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ) and the advisory boards of the ICA in London and B’Tselem in Jerusalem, amongst others.