In the light of today’s major changes and challenges, the congress will focus on Redesigning the Designer while also taking some of the examples of more-than-human knowledge experimented with within Neuhaus as a starting point for a new network.
A hundred years ago, the Bauhaus had the ambition to ‘rethink the world’ and to review the role that design and design education can play in imagining and shaping society. A century later, Het Nieuwe Instituut resumed this endeavour with the Neuhaus project, an exhibition and activity programme in the form of a temporary academy for more-than-human knowledge. This time, the institute invites lecturers, teachers and programme coordinators to come together to formulate the common principles for future design education.
Shared sense of urgency: planetary burnout
There is certainly no lack of a shared sense of urgency in the field: the ‘exhaustion on a planetary scale’ is recognised in various disciplines. It is clear that something that existing approaches to design, production and consumption have to change. We are faced with a social challenge to search for alternatives to a method that, despite increasing critical awareness, is still strongly rooted in a normative and mostly Eurocentric standard.
Meanwhile, big business seems to be increasingly focusing on multiple economic and in particular ecological crises as a driver for innovation. This approach hides the risk that the destructive mechanisms of the past decades will be continued without the fundamental change of course that is actually required.
The arts and humanities, by contrast, explicitly recognise the need for an interdisciplinary exchange. Although both domains have a marginalised social position in relation to the exact sciences, it is precisely in the humanities and the creative field that a hybrid arises between a critical theory and a generative practice, with which the envisaged transition can still be broached.
The paradox of the client
In recent years, there has been a gradual socialisation of design and design education, both from the government and from the design domain itself. The various design disciplines are increasingly focused on research and there has been an explicit internal reorientation of what is described as the ‘creative industries’.
The impact of the design sector on social developments, including the necessary clients and the embedding of socio-cultural issues in curriculums, still have to be guaranteed. With the exception of a handful of local governments, there are few examples of guiding public commissioning. Instead, we see partnerships in public-private consortiums and within the context of the now classical innovation questions from the industrial sectors.
The relevance the design field is furthermore characterised by complications, often as a result of conflicting expectations from government agencies and the market, and those of users and clients. One of the consequences is a growing struggle over the role and position of design with little narrowing of the differences in approach.
It goes without saying that the design field, society and education operate at different tempos. Developments within design education are inevitably linked to the slow process of educational reform and are often based on current economic models. Moreover, self-initiated projects based on the pursuit of sustainability offer little assurance for innovations in education. The unfruitful distinction between theory and practice, on the other hand, remains dominant.
In this context, educational practice is often dismissed as theory, and market practices are employed as the dominant frame of reference. Moving beyond this unhelpful distinction, how could design education achieve a more constructive approach to today’s fundamental issues? How then could these essential issues also be addressed outside of design education, certainly given the growing expectations that the design field can provide the solution for various social and ecological issues?
Joining forces: a new network?
There are many initiatives devoted to research into the design and education, but as yet they remain scattered and lacking a coherent network or a shared narrative that could bring together the valuable research contributions of all those programmes, departments, institutes and informal parties.
Alice Twemlow, a research professor at the Royal Academy of Art The Hague, and chair of this congress, sees the Redesigning the Designer gathering as an opportunity to raise the importance of knowledge exchange and to create a new nationally networked platform around the interrelated practices of design, education and research.
"I hope that researchers, designers, research professors, lectorates, and research organisations and initiatives of all kinds engaged in shaping the future of design education in the Dutch context will use this event to meet one another to discuss to why and how such a network might be created. What are the potential shared values and issues of concern in design education for the future that might serve as the basis for joining forces?"
Four of the seven learning trails around which the Neuhaus programme and exhibition were arranged will serve as guidelines for the symposium and as staring points for discussions about a design education research network: Meeting Matter, Time Worlds, Collective Bodies and Multispecies Urbanism. There will be an introduction to, and an example from, each learning trail.
Chair of the day Alice Twemlow, research professor at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague and an associate professor at Leiden University, and Guus Beumer, director of Het Nieuwe Instituut, will offer an introduction to the joint motives and will outline the context for the rest of the day’s activities.
In the morning, three speakers will give keynote lectures based on their own experiences with the day’s theme. During the lunch break, so-called lunch table talks will be organised, after which the afternoon programme will consist of work sessions to develop ideas for setting up a research group.
Redesigning the Designer Programme
- 09.30 - 10.00 Doors Open
- 10.00 - 10.25 Plenary Kick-off
- 10.00 - 10.10 Welcome and introduction by Alice Twemlow about the urgency of Redesigning the designer and the non-existence of design lectorates
- 10.10 - 10.25 Talk by Guus Beumer about the transition of the institutional client to self-commissioning
- 10.30 - 12.15 Keynotes
- 10.30 - 10.50 Florian Cramer (lector Piet Zwart & Critical making) How can you deal with the critical need of another design approach? And how will the design practice look like when this will be organized amongst other organizational forms?
- 10.55 - 11.15 Klaas Kuitenbrouwer will give an introduction on the overall project and learnings trails of Neuhaus. Subsequently, Klaas will present the Zoöp project. Organizational forms, legal governance, artistic research.
- 11.20 - 11.40 Adeola Enigbokan (Amsterdam University) on allowing other forms of knowledge in the research practice
- 11.45 - 11.55 Short reflection in panel setting + closing programme part 1
- 11.55 - 12.10 Het Collectief (Design Academy Eindhoven) Showcase project
- 12.10 - 12.15 Closing morning programme + practicalities afternoon programme by Alice Twemlow
- 12.15 - 13.30 Lunchbreak sessions
During the afternoon break, fellows of Het Nieuwe Instituut will host lunch table talks. Over a shared meal, they will talk about their projects, related to the learning trails multispecies urbanism and collective bodies, and the challenges they are facing amongst these themes. Hosts: Paolo Patelli – project: Is It Biology or Geology? Life and Death as Multispecies Formations; Claudia Rot – project: Beyond Polderen: Exposing the Voids of Environmental Justice in the Netherlands; Dele Adeyemo - project: Alien Possession
- 13.30 - 15.00 Working sessions - part 1
Meeting Matter - Working session hosted by Anastasia Kubrak / Time Worlds - Working session hosted by Paolo Patelli / Collective Bodies - Working session hosted by Klaas Kuitenbrouwer / Multispecies Urbanism - Working session hosted by Adeola Enigbokan
- 15.00 - 15.30 Coffeebreak
- 15.30 - 16.30 Continue working sessions - part 2
- 16.45 - 17.15 Plenary recap of the day by Alice Twemlow
- 17.15 - 18.30 Drinks