Symposium: “Can Design Change Society?”

Haus der Kulturen der Welt

John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10
10557 Berlin

Talks and Discussions, Friday 14:00–22:00 and Saturday 11:00–20:30.

With Andreas Bernard, Gui Bonsiepe, Lilet Breddels, Heinz Bude, Bureau d’Etudes, Thomas Flierl, John Grin, Boris Groys, Dorothea Hauser, Reinhold Martin, Henk Oosterling, Philipp Oswalt, PlanBude Hamburg, Birger Priddat, Christian Salewski, Tomás Saraceno, Bernd Scherer, Lara Schrijver, Luigi Snozzi, Wolfgang Ullrich, Margarete Vöhringer, Karin Wilhelm, Zones Urbaines Sensibles a. o.

Can design change society? How can we integrate emancipating ideas into a continuously progressing modernization? Has the aspiration of the Bauhaus and the classical avant-garde to positively change society through design been validated? By what means can we approach design change and the future in a new way today? What are targeted, but open-ended work forms? What role does co-production play? How does one design one’s own existence? What is the role of the designer? Would the absence of design offer liberation?

The symposium and the exhibition place valid positions in the context of historical models and present them for discussion. At the center of such discussions are the goals, roles, design methods, and the social processes in which designers are embroiled.

Program Friday September 18, 2015

14:00 Welcome and Introduction

Philipp Oswalt

14:15–17:15 Designing to What End?

We begin with the question of objectives and transformation models that characterise the relationship between designers and social processes. Based on a critical retrospective of the classical avant-garde, we will look at exemplary and controversial positions in the world of today:

  1. The model of the artist-engineer as redeemer Boris Groys (New York / Karlsruhe)
  2. Technological Transformation Gui Bonsiepe (Buenos Aires / Florianópolis)
  3. Spatial Agency Lara Schrijver (Antwerpen)
  4. System Transitions John Grin (Amsterdam)

Presentation Lilet Breddels (Amsterdam)

17:45–20:45 Designing Attention

How are perceptions in everyday life and society, debates, desires and decision-making situations formed? The shaping of society does not begin with everyday situations, but with the question of how attentiveness is focused and how thinking and social debates are configured.

  1. Critical theory Karin Wilhelm (Berlin)
  2. Critique Bureau d’Etudes (Paris)
  3. The production of desires PlanBude (Hamburg)
  4. Framing / moralischer Konsum Birger Priddat (Witten / Herdecke)

Presentation Dorothea Hauser (Hamburg / Berlin)

21:00–22:00 Evening Talk

Tomás Saraceno in conversation with Philipp Oswalt

Program Saturday September 19, 2015

11:00–14:00 Designing the Self

In recent years the individual has increasing come into focus in the design discourse, whether in the sense of self-optimisation or co-production. Societies are not only figurations of individual existences; individuals configure societies with their practices, as Norbert Elias outlined in his figurational studies. The individual existence as a design question is equally promising and perilous.

  1. The “New Man” in classical modernism Margarete Vöhringer (Berlin)
  2. Dasein is design. Eco-relational and mental design Henk Oosterling (Rotterdam)
  3. Consumption as design Wolfgang Ullrich (Leipzig / München)
  4. Design as self-optimisation Andreas Bernard (Luneburg)

Presentation Heinz Bude (Kassel)

15:00–18:00 Designing Situations

Design-based interventions in social contexts transform spaces and operate in networks of multiple actors. The designer is thereby just one actor among many, and the things themselves have a retroactive effect on processes and design. The prevailing divisions between designer and user, producer and consumer, man and nature are dissolving. Laboratories of reality and scenarios aim for transformation without defining the final statuses. They are target-orientated, but open-ended.

  1. Luigi Snozzi (Locarno)
  2. Constellations of the classical avant-garde Thomas Flierl (Berlin)
  3. Scenarios for urban-landscape systems Christian Salewski (Zurich)
  4. Change Labs ZUS (Zones Urbaines Sensibles, Rotterdam)

Presentation Lara Schrijver (Antwerp)

19:00–20:30 Closing debate: “Controversy: Autonomy, Camouflage or Emancipation? The Role of Design in Society”

The symposium concludes with a controversial debate that fundamentally questions the status of the designer in society: Does design have a potential to emancipate society, or is it autonomously self-referential? Or does engaged art serve merely as camouflage for political conflicts that are thereby not addressed, but merely aestheticised?

Keynote: Reinhold Martin (New York) with speakers of the previous panels. Presentation: Bernd Scherer and Philipp Oswalt (Berlin).

Photos: Micki Rosi Richter

Partners projekt bauhaus

Funded by:

A project by: