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Making/Crafting/Designing: Perspectives on Design as a Human Activity
10. February 2011 20:00 - 12. February 2011 13:00
art, science & business
Design Theory Symposium in the framework of the art, science & business program, 10–12 February 2011

Humans are essentially makers of things. These material artifacts surround us, they form our environment, and even form part of us. It is no longer possible to ignore that the world we live in is not a given, but is made by us. Alongside this realization, the world itself has become increasingly makeable, for example through genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and synthetic biology. As the resulting artifacts grow ever more complex, it has become crucial to understand the process and consequences of their production. These operations can essentially be understood as design processes. Within an extended notion of design almost all human activity is, to a significant degree, a design activity.

The symposium investigates how this notion of design could be conceptualized and what the consequences for design as an academic discipline might be. An extended notion of design must, however, also be critically evaluated: if most artifacts are considered as being designed, how can unintentional processes and their material outcomes be accounted for? Within an investigation of human material culture it is thus important to distinguish the terms “making” and “designing.” While the former designates the production of material artifacts as a human activity in general, the latter term indicates a more advanced form of making that involves planning, intentionality, and an awareness of consequences.

As a result, the notion of what constitutes design is narrowed to concern only “designed objects,” while the overall view, which concerns the process of making, is extended to include intended and unintended artifacts. This will raise important questions for the role of design in human life. Who designs and for which purpose? How do we deal with responsibility for material artifacts and their intended or unintended consequences?

Symposium initiators and co-organizers:
Sarah Owens, Zurich University of the Arts
Björn Franke, Royal College of Art, London

The symposium is organized by the art, science & business program of the Akademie Schloss Solitude.

Please note that the symposium is fully booked. No further registrations can be accepted!