03 November 2017


Civic Design


Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle

1 – 2 December 2017



In recent decades, the scope and area of activity of design has expanded significantly. Developing beyond a function- and product-focused perspective, design can now, with some certainty, embark on a structurally critical reflection of processes and politics. Recognition of the social and structural effects of design has been increasingly emphasised since the days of Lucius Burckhardt. For the last 14 years, the German Association for Design Theory and Research has been organising an annual conference to discusses how theory and practice can be combined. This year’s conference is on “Civic Design. On the Theory and Practice of the Social and Political in Design.”


The conference will be held at the Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule in Halle, one of the few German educational institutions for design with the right to award doctorates. Design theorists and scientists mainly from Germany, but also from the rest of Europe will come together to explore specific questions in a range of formats. At the heart of the event is Civic Design, a form of design that is particularly interested in political and participatory processes. What this concept of design means remains to be clearly defined, and given the inflationary development of numerous design concepts in recent years, the derivation of this concept also merits linguistic analysis.

At any rate, the conference will begin with something concrete: Bazon Brock and Claudia Mareis will debate the historical classification of design approaches and their current importance. During the course of the first day, twelve speakers will give short presentations as part of three different ‘tracks’ speaking on a range of complexes around the conference theme.

The second discussion with Guy Julier, Jocelyn Bailey and Vera Baur will revolve around the current nature of Civic Design.

On the Saturday, the conference is divided into roundtable discussions and workshops. The discussions focus on failures in Design Research or how digitisation affects processes. Among other things, Uta Brandes will offer a workshop on gender design in the afternoon.

The “Design Promoviert” colloquium follows on the Sunday. It is not an official part of the conference, but fits it well. Here theorists and current doctoral students can meet and exchange ideas.

Only after the conference will we really find out whether it has helped to clarify the concept of Civic Design or whether this use of the term is a new strategy to keep design theorists busy.


Nº 280

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