Keynote Debates

DRS2018 Limerick Keynote Debates

Whose Design?: Sharing counter perspectives on dominant design gazes.

There is increasing recognition about design's key role in the creation of conditions, infrastructures, and the very worlds within which we live our lives. This recognition has fostered diverse calls for the reorientation of the design disciplines, away from the functionalist, rationalist, and industrial traditions dominant for most of their history; and towards more socially conscious, political, situated, and relational practices. In asking “Whose Design?” we seek to explore diverse understandings and counterpoints to dominant design gazes, both from the perspective of design as a noun (what is it that particular designs do in the world?) and as a verb (how should we go about designing our way out of the current mess?).

Rather than offering easy and straightforward answers to these questions, what we need is to stir discussion on the nature and scale of the work ahead. Can design research offer, beyond novel methodologies, political commitments for alternative ontologies? What is it that design researchers need to do, in order to move beyond Anglo/Eurocentric and capitalistic design lenses in the short term? In the long term? Should the program be one of inclusion and reform (as in let’s include the “others,” or let’s infuse design with environmental and social justice goals), or should the program be one of significant transformation (as in let’s reimagine design’s core categories altogether)?

The conversation will build bridges between certain trends in decolonial, feminist, and indigenous (amongst others) theories and debates around the world, on the one hand, and design theory and practice, on the other. The aim is to identify points of tension but also synergies between these two knowledge, activist, and professional domains.

Moderated by Dr. Andrea Botero 

Andrea is a Colombian born, Finland Based designer and researcher. Her work engages with the possibilities, and contradictions of participating in the creation of environments, tools and media that afford more relational and caring interactions among, and between people and their environment. In particular she studies how the design of communication and information technologies shapes the social outcomes, practices and horizons of possibilities of communities and collectives. She is currently a Postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oulu in Finland and conspirator at the practice based research studio Suo&Co.