|NEW YORK, December 14, 2010—A new theory of design has recently emerged that moves design toward more interdisciplinary, humanitarian ends. In the spirit of the holiday season, Parsons The New School for Design and the Köln International School of Design (KISD) will explore what design is capable of giving to the world with The Critical Gift of Design, a conference and exhibition featuring leading international designers and scholars, taking place at The New School December 16-17.
“We understand that design is not a neutral act,” said Joel Towers, executive dean of Parsons. “With the Critical Gift, we are taking a step back to assess how we have used this power throughout history—for better and worse—and how we might apply it in the future to benefit an increasingly complex and global society.”
Bringing together design and the social sciences, participants will discuss what makes design attractive or repulsive, humane or inhumane, social or antisocial. The conference will feature a keynote address, “Beauty and the Design of Aliveness,” by Elaine Scarry, the Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value at Harvard University. The conference will also be driven by breakout discussion sessions led by participants, includingPaola Antonelli, senior curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art; Ruedi Baur, graphic designer and cofounder of the interdisciplinary network Intégral Concept; Marco Piva, founder of the architecture, interior, and industrial design firm Studiodada Associates; Uta Brandes, professor of gender and design and of design research at KISD; and Jamer Hunt, director of the MFA program in Transdisciplinary Design at Parsons.
"Design has gained an importance and a self-consciousness that requires it to be much more critical—against its own stupidities and against inhumane social and political activities," said Michael Erlhoff, founding professor of KISD, who co-organized the conference with Clive Dilnot, professor of Design Studies at Parsons, and Cameron Tonkinwise, associate dean of Sustainability at Parsons.
Extending the ideas of the conference is the corresponding exhibition The Present, featuring work by Parsons and KISD students, which will be on display in the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons December 16-19. Through critical product design, subversive videos, satirical stories and controversial projects, The Present will challenge visitors to consider whether design is a gift or a curse. The exhibition will highlight work produced by the first class of students in the MFA Transdisciplinary Design program at Parsons, a collaborative, studio-based program that applies design solutions to complex global problems.
[singlepic id=388] Notes from the Opening Conference Presentation given by Elaine Scarry: "We have a lot of beautiful objects in the world. Do we need more? Yes. The answer is obviously yes" as more and more continue to pour into this world.
Three Sights of Beauty, one of which is symmetry. -Symmetry in objects is beautiful well known. -Symmetric in justice. -reaction of the perceive to the object of the beauty.
Justice: Justice is alway artefactual, never natural. (or artificial?) beauty contributes to justice with the desire to create more and more in the world. If you bring an object into the room, its beauty effects those in the room. Justice is more expansive (like Apia's concept of cosmopolitan) - it effects people in different locations.
Asymmetry Discrepancy of poor: - widening asymmetries of wealth and increased stratification. She also brought up the increased power of weaponry. I'd like to extend that to other concepts that I have heard about the asymmetry of power. It's not just asymmetry between nation-state and nation-state where one nation-state can destroy many others or the world. That asymmetry also exists on the scope of the individual - one individual can unleash massive damage to a city.
Concepts - -concepts we speak on "fairness" -speaking in the realm of "justice" -infinity, distribution - all terms for plentitude. -radical un-selfing. -Timelag
Crowd questions: "Aren't machine guns and bombs beautiful? As they are symmetrical." How real is symmetry as "our eyes cannot see parallels" so what happens is that "we construct symmetry." (see Crafting Hybrid Design with note on how lines are only abstractions)
Designers + Theorists mentioned: -Charles Rennie Mackintosh -Plato's Phaedrus
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Parsons The New School for Design is one of the most prestigious and comprehensive schools of art and design in the world. It is an integral part of The New School, a research university with a strong legacy in the social sciences. Based in New York, but active around the world, Parsons is committed to creatively and critically addressing the complexities of life in the 21st century. For more information, visit www.newschool.edu/parsons. (Parsons Press Release)
The Köln International School of Design (as part of the University of Applied Sciences Cologne) was founded in 1991 as the first completely transdisciplinary design university. Through projects and seminars, students study all of the teaching and research areas offered by KISD, such as Service Design, Design and Economy, Gender Design, Interface Design, Design and Identity, Design for Manufacturing, and Design Theory. KISD offers a 4-year BA Integrated, a 5-year BA/MA in European Design, and a 2-year research-based MA Integrated. As about 35% of KISD students do not speak German, almost all of the projects, seminars, lectures, and courses are held in English. For more information, visit www.KISD.de. (Parsons Press Release)
Parsons Press Release - http://www.newschool.edu/pressroom/pressreleases/2010/criticalgift.htm Info in German - http://www.koeln-nachrichten.de/bildung/hochschule/koeln_kisd_new_york_ausstellung_design_2010_dezember.html