12 DECEMBER 2009
Lectures and Dialogue: Design Pre/Occupations

Iaspis invites you to the last event within DESIGN ACT in 2009. It features lectures and a dialog between Peter Lang and Fiona Raby around the question: What is at stake for critical and radical design today?

Participants: Peter Lang (US) and Fiona Raby (UK)
Moderator: Ramia Mazé
Venue: Iaspis, Konstnärsnmnden, Maria skolgata 83, Stockholm
Language: English
Free admission

What is at stake for critical and radical design today? Are there common concerns or critical purposes within counter-movements in design then and now? What are sites for ‘active critical participation’ — the studio or gallery, the streets or media? Who for and who with — citizens or consumers, experts or publics, the local or the global? Are there emerging issues that designers might seek to evade, critique, and engage?

Even as mainstream design and architecture during the last century have been preoccupied with industrial production and consumer culture, a range of alternative tendencies have been expanding and questioning the role of the designer. Design seen as ‘active critical participation’ (to borrow a term from the radical group Superstudio) contests architecture as a ‘service profession’, only ever solving problems set by industry, downstream of technology developments and policy decisions. From the modernist avant-garde to the radical movements in the 1960s and still today, designers and architects have been experimenting with tactics and theories from art, film, media, politics, and philosophy, inventing new forms of practice as a sort of ‘criticism from within’ to engage with societal issues and futures.

Some have redirected design to induce contemplation and critique rather than conventional modes of consumption — as, for example, Dunne & Raby capture the imagination (or occupy the mind) through provocative materializations of an ‘alternative now’. Others take to the streets, re-occupying sites by staging happenings and direct actions — as, for example, Stalker/ON traverse peripheral spaces as inquiry into marginalized experiences, histories, and communities. Today, there is a revival of interest in the counter-culture, nor is this coincidence. Then, as now, new scientific, technical and industrial possibilities coincide with societal and environmental problematics — somehow, we must engage in forms of critical and forward thinking. In this DESIGN ACT finale event for 2009, we will discuss such design pre/occupations, in light of historical precedents and current examples, as a dialog between key actors in the field.

14:00 Installation of project archive, mingle
15:00 Introduction: Magnus Ericson and Ramia Mazé
15:10 Lecture: Peter Lang
16:10 Lecture: Fiona Raby
17:00 Peter Lang and Fiona Raby in dialog, with moderator Ramia Mazé
17:30 Drinks


Video: Lectures 1/12 PreviousNextPeter Lang intro

Piazza Kurdistan/Ararat
Evidence Dolls


Peter Lang (US) investigates cultural transformations in society and emerging architectural and design strategies. He has co-curated exhibitions including ‘Environments and Counter Environments: Experimental Media in Italy: The New Domestic Landscape, MoMA 1972’ at Columbia University in 2009 and ‘Superstudlo: Life Without Objects’ for the London Design Museum in 2003. His practice focuses on contemporary marginal communities, together with the Rome-based urban art research group Stalker/ON. He holds a Ph.D. in history and urbanism from New York University, and is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture Texas A&M at the Santa Chiara Study Center in Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy.

Fiona Raby (UK) is a partner in the practice Dunne & Raby, which treats design as a medium to stimulate discussion and debate amongst designers, industry and the public about the social, cultural, and ethical implications of existing and emerging technologies. Her background is in architecture, in which taught for over 10 years before joining the teaching faculty of the Design Interactions department at the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London. Between 1995 and 2001, she was a senior research fellow and a founding member of the RCA’s CRD Research Studio, in which she jointly ran the Critical Design Unit. The work of Dunne & Raby has been exhibited and published internationally and is in the permanent collections of major museums.

Ramia Mazé (SE) is a senior researcher and project leader at the Interactive Institute her work examines intersections among critical practice, sustainability, and social design. Together with Magnus Ericson, she is an initiator and project manager of DESIGN ACT.

Magnus Ericson (SE) is a project manager at Iaspis and, since 2007, has been assigned to pursue and develop Iaspis activities within the fields of design, crafts and architecture. Together with Ramia Mazé, he is an initiator and project manager of DESIGN ACT.


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