Welcome to the first DESIGN ACT seminar: "Design in service"

18 May, 2009 - 13:27

The very first DESIGN ACT seminar takes place on Tuesday, 26 May, 17.00-21.00. This DESIGN ACT seminar invites three young practitioners from different countries to present examples of their work and to discuss their perspectives on such questions. Free admission. Welcome!

PARTICIPANTS: Camilla Andersson, Yanki Lee, Erlend Blakstad Haffner (Fantastic Norway) Moderators: Ana Betancour and Ramia Mazé

VENUE: Iaspis, Konstnärsnämnden, Maria skolgata 83, Stockholm.

How do
architects and designers engage critically with issues of public
service, community interests or social change today? Do design
representations and forms play a role? Can we identify emerging tactics
for more inclusive or participatory forms of practice?

Traditionally,
architecture and design are seen as ‘service professions’. On behalf of
patrons or clients, architects and designers typically serve the
interests of those with money and in power. Underlying critical and
participatory approaches to design, however, are questions about which
values to represent and who’s interests are at stake. There are both
historical and contemporary examples that challenge the traditional
role of design – operating, instead, to serve and advocate interests
that might be overlooked or underrepresented. DESIGN ACT
is a project highlighting and discussing contemporary design practices
that engage with political and societal issues. In particular, it will
trace current and historical tendencies towards design as a ‘critical
practice’ that engages ideologically and practically in such issues.
WHAT are examples of these movements (practitioners and projects)?
WHERE does it happen and in what contexts (sites and situations)? HOW
does it happen and what does it take (methods and tactics)?

DESIGN ACT
is an experimental project that explores methods of identifying,
mapping and presenting examples of design and architectural practice.
It operates through an international network of contributors, an
emerging rhizomic online archive and a series of public events. It aims
to develop a platform for interdisciplinary discussion and exchange of
knowledge and experience.

DESIGN
ACT is initiated and produced by Iaspis, the Swedish Arts Grants
Committee’s International Programme for Visual Arts, in collaboration
with the Interactive Institute.
Project managers: Magnus
Ericson (Iaspis), Ramia Mazé (Interactive Institute). Project
coordinator: Sara Teleman. Research assistant: Natasha Llorens. Graphic
design: Friendly Matters. www.design-act.se

At the Interactive Institute, this collaboration is part of the Forms of Sustainability project funded by the Swedish Research Council.

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Camilla Andersson
(SE) is an architect investigating relations between architectural form
and social norms. These relations, as manifested in the standards
governing residential construction in Sweden, were the focus of
‘AbNormal’, a collaboration with industrial designer Karin Ehrnberger,
which was exhibited at Sweden’s Arkitekturmuseet in 2006. Based on
social science statistics, she proposed a design for apartment
construction that gives form to common deviations from the nuclear
family model. This is part of her larger examination of architectural
forms of representation as tools for discussing gender and other
normative aspects of industrial standards. She works at ÅWL Arkitekter,
an office mainly focused on housing, and lectures in different
universities and countries.

Yanki Lee
(UK) is an award-winning designer focusing on social innovation through
design and user research methodologies. Currently a research fellow at
the Helen Hamlyn Center at the Royal College of Art in London, she has
a PhD in design from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She has
participated in action-research projects and case studies in Asia and
the UK, the multi-cultural ‘Designing across Boundaries’ sustainable
design programme, creative design workshops within the RCA’s Methods
Lab, and the ‘i~design 3’ project focused on products, systems,
services and environments for the whole population, including those
that are older or disabled. She leads student programmes, judges design
awards, and is active in designing and curating exhibitions both
internationally and in her own community-interest gallery in London.

Erlend Blakstad Haffner
(NO) is a Norwegian architect. During the third year in architecture
school, Erlend Blakstad Haffner and Håkon Matre Aasarød bought a
caravan, painted it red and founded the nomadic practice Fantastic
Norway Architects. The ambition was to create an open, including and
socially aware architectural practice and to re-establish the architect
as an active participant and a constructor of society. Engaged with
architecture and installations, as well as mobilisation processes and
development strategies, Fantastic Norway also run a studio at the
Bergen School of Architecture. Fantastic Norway’s clients span from
local communities to private investors and public institutions – the
studio also initiates its own projects and their financial and
political anchoring. Fantastic Norway has received numerous national
and international awards and has been widely featured in publications
and exhibitions.

Ana Betancourt
(SE) is an artist and an architect. Her work ranges from architectural
and urban design, academic research, multidisciplinary art- and media
projects. She founded and runs A + URL/ Architecture + Urban Research
Laboratory, a design research centre and an operative consultancy
organisation, and she is Professor at the School of Architecture,
Chalmers. Including projects in the area of critical design and art
activism, her work investigates alternative strategies and ways to
operate and catalyse change within global transformations affecting
cities today. She is widely published, exhibited, and is a member of
various international reference groups, networks and organizations,
nationally and internationally.

Ramia Mazé
(SE) is a design researcher, manager and educator focusing on
participatory and critical methods in the development of design and
technology products. At the Interactive Institute in Sweden since 2001,
she has been involved in interdisciplinary and international research
projects in the areas of sustainability, public media and smart
materials. She has been director of the institute's studio in Göteborg
and is currently a project leader in the Design Research Unit in
Stockholm. She lectures in postgraduate design and technology programs
and is on the faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies at Konstfack College
of Arts, Crafts and Design. Originally from the U.S.A., her academic
background is in interaction design, computer- related design and
architecture, in which she has received a PhD, MA, and BA, respectively.