phd research week 17


TALK: Design Cultures Salon at V&A "How does design produce new publics?""If, according to Bourdieu, designers are ‘cultural intermediaries’ who undertake ‘needs production’, how are these linked? How might designers create new social practices? Is this merely a commercial strategy (as in ‘brand communities’)? What role does open design or co-creation have in this process? How does the material function in such a process?"

- Adam Drazin  anthropologist who works on design and with designers. Lecturing in Ireland at Trinity College Dublin on themes including material culture, globalisation and migration, gender and the home. Runs the MA programme in Culture, Materials and Design at University College London. - Adam Thorpe (my supervisor) directs Design Against Crime at Central St Martin’s.  A social innovation approach via practice-led design to reducing the incidence and adverse consequences of crime through products, services, communications and environments. A Reader at CSM and runs the Vexed Generation design partnership. - Joe Harrington A partner at the Innovation Unit and co-leads the service design practice. - Noortje Marres Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Director of the Centre for the Study of Invention and Social Process at Goldsmiths, University of London. Much of her recent work is on object-centred approaches to participation, which seek to appreciate the role of things, settings and environments in the organisation of publics. - Jana Scholze Curator of Contemporary Furniture and Product Design at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Here are some points which seemed interesting and relevant to my research:

On Design and Ethnography - When entering the field, materially what do I see? and how can that inform my research? - Are people participating my project? or am I as a Designer, participating in theirs?

On collaboration - Bring people together to collaborate, through "design devices" or "design things". - We need to "design for empathy" (no longer design with empathy: for example laying in hospital bed to experience day in life of patient). - Through design devices (designed things) we allow conflicting parties to communicate, start a conversation, within wicked design scenarios (scenarios with conflicting interests/outcomes). - We need to design to accommodate diverse opinions - Agonism.

On Publics (audiences) - You don't know where your project is going until you have an audience to design for - the audience drives the project. - Some designers keep having "Papanek moments" of designer's guilt and are not actually designing to resolve social problems where design is needed. - Do the publics know themselves? not always. - Does there need to be always a public? No. - Can publics be 'created'? Yes, but that would be artificial, designers should address the publics that organically form themselves within society.

On Design Value - The immaterial (ex: values, ideas) informs the material (the designed things) and  this generates a dialogue (Adam Thorpe).  The moment where the designer intervenes is in the "design device" (as seen by Manzini) or the "design thing" (as seen by Pelle Ehn) and the change which the device/thing produces is the generated value in social context. - What kind of values are we producing with design?  It is important to reflect on the knowledge in how we produce for the public.

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WORKSHOP: AESTHETICS OF SUSTAINABILITY SESSION 3 – Questioning  diagrams deployed in urban and architectural practices - discussion with Jona Piehl (CSM PhD)

- What are diagrams? (Infographics, images, maps..) Data visualization vs infographics is an ongoing debate in design community to which is only graphics and which is information interpretation. - People don't mistrust diagrams as much as images. - Diagram is a schematic representation of relationships and/or processes, hierarchy, relationships.. - Graphically, we can notice patterns or "clichés" when we juxtapose/compare diagrams of same topic. - Images are emotional and imaginative, diagrams are explanatory and fact based.

We also thoroughly discussed the controversy example of "hockey stick graph" by IPCC in 2001 presented by Al Gore - so named because it showed relatively little temperature rise from AD 1000 to 1900 and then a very sharp rise in the 20th century when fossil fuel burning started to take effect.  A more recent adaptation is illustrated by Information Is Beautifulabove.

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FILM: The Economics of Happiness

Thoughts on bridging the consumer and producer.