phd research week 46

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UAL DESIS LAB This Way Up: Design Activism as Social Innovation - a talk given by Thomas Markussen of Kolding School of Design, Denmark. Talked through the unexplored potential in design activism to contribute to social innovation, as mentioned by Christensen and Morgen “the social innovator is an agent of change who through actions rather than dialogue aims to change existing social structures” and Anthony Giddens “…has to do with the freedom of the individual to act independently…” Thomas is interested in disruptive Actions:  what kind of structures in the urban environment limit and constrain local actions and social change? How can design actions/design activism be used to disrupt these structures to better conditions are created for social change ?

Main points: Commodification of culture and events: the citizens are the consumers but they can be socially exclusive and: only for a small segment of society ie. the creative class. Is the creative city solving the post-industrial problem? taking into account hat ordinary people can make the extraordinary happen. Citizens are not consumers but people.  The city must be planned to act with imagination in harnessing opportunities or addressing seemingly intractable urban problems.

What is the role of design in disruptive design?  Design activism / political activism / art activism (disruptive practice) What is it that makes it design activism and not political or art activism?

Design activists introduce heterogeneous objects and artefacts into public space.  In doing so, design activists alter or challenge the conditions for peoples' urban experience - the forms of experience (time, space) become the domain for aesthetics.

Thomas also introduced his framework for disrupting activism (DESIGN ISSUES 2013) re-enforcing that design is not about smoothing difference, it is about enabling disruption (agnostic design…) and the designer facilitates the co-design processes.