Where does design go from here? What questions do we ask ourselves as practitioners and consumers? Do we stick to the paths that have historically served us or do we alter our modes of practice to adapt to new working and climate conditions? Questions like these are rippling through the discipline. And a reaction is inevitable as more students are exposed to the social and ethical impacts and potentialities of their work.
But how do we sustain this approach when the industry is slow to catch up? What’s the point of being exposed to the more critical or speculative aspects of the profession if all it’s used for is future proofing companies like Ikea. There are thousands of articles, papers and lectures on design’s problem solving abilities and how the everything can be reduced to something that design can fix. Is contemporary design, when not focused on a product, just a way of facilitating and improving business as usual? Or is it something more mercurial? A force that can bind through creativity and investigation research; a kind of autoethnography on a collective scale.
The reason this article is full of questions is because to question something is to admit you don’t have the answer. You put yourself in a position of insecurity, of vulnerability. A condition that immediately challenges the profession’s solutionist identity. The author Chris Gosden, when writing about magic, has this to say ‘In engaging with unfamiliar worlds we temporarily give up assumptions we take for granted.’ This engagement with unfamiliar worlds is something that we need to explore more when we’re outside of the academy.
When we search for design we’re often met with articles titled: Best Polish Design 2020, Top Ten Women in the Polish Design Industry or Polish Craft. All fair, but familiar. And in our current political climate what does Polish Design actually mean? Does it have to be created exclusively by people with Polish passports? Or just within the borders of Poland? Is a Polish student studying abroad producing Polish design?
Such questions have already been asked in the art world. A context that favours an emphasis on liquid borders than staunch national labels. So what to do? Every government that wants to define identity in order exclude others goes immediately for the creative arts: National Design, Unified Culture. Good Strong Design that a country can be proud of. Something to beam across the world to showcase the brilliance of a country’s creatives. So what can a cultural NGO add to this debate? What can it do to unpick the muddying of creativity and identity?
These questions are a call to collaboration. This year a curatorially-led cultural foundation is opening in Warsaw: Ziemniaki i . It’s a hosting-space that will focus on methodologies as a means to break down the binary distinctions semantically enforced between art and design. It is a place that wants to support the creative community post graduation. To push for new contexts of design practice in Poland, and to a greater extent in the CEE region. It will provide a platform for experimentation and meeting where the sensitivities of designers come into contact with those other professions and disciplines.
The hope is is that it will foster new engagements within the creative industries; providing time and space to act on design and its role in the contemporary. It’s my belief that hosting spaces can help help contribute to a new generation of critically aware practitioners. So let’s meet in the grey area between investigation, action and profession.
Published on Formy.xyz