2019 Special Focus: Design + Context

The 2019 edition of the International Design Principles and Practices Conference invites designers and academics to present their ideas and experience, concerning the differing relationships between Design and Context.


From a “Design” point of view, what role and impact might the practices of design have on the historical context to which it is applied? How does design make change, not only for a future context, but to the present? Lately there are a lot of talk about designing for the future; looking at design as primarily a speculative enterprise. Maybe this is due to a ‘future context’ being more attractive for designers, than untangling already existing crisis’s in real contexts. Nevertheless, it is important to consider the present context before imaging new futures. In this line of questioning there is a productive demand: how design allows for the plurality of present contexts, the growing gap between people living in the future and in the past, between different cultures, professional fields and thus, between different contexts.

Can we see “Design” as a tool for changing “Context”? Traditionally the outcome of design are the objects produced to respond to the economic, functional, aesthetic needs; with meanings and messages inserted into those objects. Exploring these objects and meanings, we could identify them as tools and methods of change by Design and trace them as ‘contours’ of innovation on an alternative map of new contexts, influenced and born through Design activities.


From the “Context” point of view, what impact do social contexts have on design, as a discipline and as a profession? As Marx asked: “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence but their social existence that determines their consciousness”. Seeing context as social existence, that determines a lot not only a lifestyle but also consciousness, how might context demand things of design as well? What are the particularities that every different context leaves on design? In times increasing globalization, are there some characteristics that make design from one cultural/social/political/geographic reality different to the one from another? And if it is a loop, and the context does determine consciousness, should we exchange the best practices that we possess to bring change?

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