Public Design : Learning alternatives together
Sammanfattning: The project I describe in this report took place over the course of three months, coinciding with the outbreakof the coronavirus pandemic, and is the culmination of my BA in “Design + Change”. Inherent in this courseis a proposition that is central to my work here.The “Design + Change” programme covers a wide range of Design practices, and offers an overview of manypressing issues in need of socially and environmentally sustainable change. As I see it, the rubric of “Change”appeals to a sense of Urgency; and “Design” is a promising site of Agency. These two keywords have beencentral to my project from the beginning, and when brought together, I believe they make an appeal to values.Between the Urgency and the Agency of the present moment, is Crisis. “Crisis”, from the Ancient Greek,krinein, means: “to choose, to decide”. We are currently in a position of empirical urgency, but we are alsoin subjective and intersubjective crisis. Not only is the environment under threat, but so is the public realmwhich is vital for concerted action. It is increasingly common to feel that it is “easier to imagine the end of theworld than the end of capitalism”1, and maybe most alarmingly, it is harder and harder to sustain constructivedialogue about any of the crises we face with those we don’t agree with. If we want to overcome this impasse,we have to collectively entertain basic questions about how we want to live and what we want to live for.The work I detail here aims to provide fruitful answers to my carefully assembled research question:“How do I sustain myself while working towards Sustainment?”(Sustainment is the view of sustainability concerned with the long-term existence of life on Earth, and distinctfrom its pervasive, hollowed-out version, given in to the marketing of “sustainable consumerism”.)In my framing of this project I made the deliberate choice to remain consistent with this urgency even if thistranscended the boundaries of design. This approach is captured perfectly in Naomi Klein’s adage that “Thereare no non-radical options left on the table”.This project comes out of is an uncompromising curiosity for the kinds of practices that might evoke theagency to bring about meaningful systemic transformation, whether or not they are understood as design. Itis a process of “prototyping” these kinds of practices with others, since we are all designers and everything isdesigned.This was only possible, however, after taking an unflinching look at disciplines’, professions’ and employment’srole in driving change.The “method” that came out of this is the confluence of Learning (Pedagogy, research), Alternatives (Prefigurativepolitics), Together (Participatory Design, Design Activism).
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