16 JUNE 2010 1–5 PM
Seminar 4: Platforms

Iaspis invites you to the 4th DESIGN ACT seminar, which highlights platforms that support discussions about a discipline in transition.

Claire Catterall (UK), Somerset House, Embankment Gallery
Régine Debatty (BE), we-make-money-not-art.com
Joseph Grima (IT/US), Domus Magazine and Storefront for Art and Architecture PRESENTATION CANCELLED
Ramia Mazé and Magnus Ericson (SE), DESIGN ACT
Staffan Lundgren (SE), Axl Books and SITE magazine

Venue: Iaspis, Konstnärsnamnden, Maria skolgata 83, Stockholm
Language: English
Open seminar, free admission

What new paradigms might be necessary within an expanding or changing view of contemporary design? What are the conditions and concerns of platforms for design discourse? What roles do associated sites, structures, media and institutions play? What is the role of practitioners? What can be learned from other disciplines?

Forums and formats for discussion play an essential role in understanding the changing definition of design and role of designers today. This seminar focuses on platforms that have been developing and experimenting with how to host such discussion – several significant examples will be presented, along with different institutional models and premises, media and formats, audiences and impacts. As one such platform, DESIGN ACT is placed within a wider context, reflecting upon experiences and future directions of developing discourse about design. Through a series of presentations and a panel discussion, issues such as curating, interpreting, promoting, critiquing and practicing emerging definitions and roles will be discussed.

13:00 Introduction
13.30 Presentation: Ramia Mazé and Magnus Ericson
14.00 Presentation: Claire Catterall
14.30 Break
15.00 Presentation: Régine Debatty
15.30 Presentation: Joseph Grima PRESENTATION CANCELLED
16.00 Panel discussion
17.00 Drinks and mingle


Image 1/5PreviousNextStaffan Lundgren.jpg


Video: Seminar 1/16 PreviousNextIntroduction 1

The contemporary role and definition of design is expanding. While the functional and decorative artefacts presented in design education, museums and magazines are obviously recognizable as design, design is today understood today as much more. Schools based on arts and crafts traditions or industrial production are expanding to include alternative ideas, processes and technologies that open up for new models of practice. Outside the design studio and the traditional ‘client service’ model of the profession, designers are initiating projects with new stakeholders and communities, even getting hands on in science and policy. Designers are operating ‘beyond the object’ – or, at least, beyond the traditional object of industrial or craft production. In light of such tendencies, we might rethink not only the object of design, but also the objectives pursued by designers today.

Tracing tendencies in contemporary design, DESIGN ACT has been highlighting design practices that engage with political and societal issues. Through public events and the online archive, the project has been intended as a platform for designers to discover and discuss examples of approaches to issues such as participation and activism, gender and power, cultures and consumption, criticality and advocacy. Discussions has embraced issues such as: How do architects and designers engage critically with issues of public service, community interests or social change today? How might broadcast and interactive media stimulate new interactions within and across communities? Can design reform – or contest – social and political conditions? How can diverse desires – or desire for diversity – inform design? What new tactics might emerge from design engagement with critical theories or futures studies? What are sites for ‘active critical participation’?

In many ways, DESIGN ACT has been a platform for expanding conceptions about what design is and what it might do within society. Besides questions about how design might be applied and utilized, an important (and political) question is what design is – or how it is defined and recognized. To some, for example, participatory, activist, or critical design might look more like pedagogy, policy or art than conformance to familiar objects and objectives of design. But calling these something other than design discounts the growing number of designers engaging with alternative ideas and models of practice. Indeed, it denies the power of design to change its own social, political, and economic conditions, a power evident within a long history of avant-garde, radical, and visionary movements in design.

As definitions and roles of design itself are in transition today, the forums and formats for design discourse also need to be reconsidered. Design associations, curricula, exhibitions and publications, for example, develop and disseminate particular ideas about what design is about, its objects and objectives. These forums and formats, and associated institutions, condition the expectations of potential clients and audiences of design as well as the self-perception and professional definition held by designers. Contemporary design needs to develop relevant platforms for debating and participating in these ideas – on the basis of practice in the field and with practitioners who have a stake in the consequences.


Claire Catterall (UK) is curator at Somerset House’s Embankment Gallery, responsible for a program of major exhibitions covering architecture, design, fashion and photography. She began her career at London’s Design Museum in the early ‘90s, and then she worked as an independent curator responsible for a number of high-profile exhibitions. In 2000 she co-founded Scarlet Projects with Sarah Gaventa. In their 7 years together they were renowned for their innovative work bringing design and architecture to a wide public. Claire has written catalogues to all her major exhibitions, and contributed to many books, magazines and journals including The Journal of Design History, Blueprint and Design Week.

Régine Debatty (BE) is the founder of the award-winning blog we-make-money-not-art.com. She is a curator and critic whose work focuses on the intersection between art, design, science and social issues. She contributes to various design and art magazines and lectures internationally. She is also involved in the art section of the Resist project, a series of documentaries about economical apartheid. http://www.resistnetwork.com. She lives and works in Turin and Brussels.

Magnus Ericson (SE) is a project co-ordinator and curator. Between 2007 and 2009 he was assigned as a project manager to pursue and develop Iaspis activities within the fields of design, crafts and architecture. From June 2010 he is commissioned as a co-ordinator for the design program at Arkitekturmuseet, Stockholm. Between 2003 – 2006 he was as a curator and project co-ordinator responsible for developing the program at Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall’s satellite project space Magasin 3 Projekt. Together with Ramia Mazé, he is an initiator and project manager of DESIGN ACT.

Joseph Grima (IT/US) is an architect and researcher and since 2010 editorial director of Domus Magazine. After graduating from the Architectural Association in London, he worked as an editor and adviser at Domus magazine, Milan. Until 2009 he was the director of the Storefront for Art and Architecture, a nonprofit exhibition and events space in New York City committed to the advancement of innovative positions in architecture, art and design. He is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths College in London, and a regular contributor to a wide range of international publications.

Staffan Lundgren (SE) is founder and publisher of Axl Books and one of the editors of Stockholm based journal SITE. Now also working at KTH School of Architecture with their publishing, open lectures and exhibition activities.

Ramia Mazé (SE) is a design researcher, manager and educator specializing in participatory and critical methods for designing systems and products. At the Interactive Institute in Sweden, she is currently a senior researcher and, through a new project about social innovation, a research fellow at the IIT Institute of Design in the US. She has worked in corporate research and design consultancies in the US and UK, studied interaction design, computer-related design and architecture, in which she has a PhD, MA(RCA), and BA, respectively. Together with Magnus Ericson, she is an initiator and project manager of DESIGN ACT.


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