The Design Principles & Practices Journal Collection offers an annual International Award for Excellence for new research or thinking that has been recognized to be outstanding by members of the Design Principles & Practices Research Network.
The article applies theoretical knowledge to highlight examples of grassroots and participatory actions by individuals and groups building new mechanisms of action, a mode of operation not often seen in established institutionalised culture. In addition, the article explores the role of women in the context of participatory design within solidarity economies, based on the premise of scholar and activist Silvia Federici that the commons movement, striving for spaces of solidarity and autonomy and for an understanding of the vital importance of coexistence, is still very closely associated with many women’s initiatives and activities. Through their action, women show their support for non-profit public good initiatives as well as for spaces where people can socialise, explore, and experiment. By acknowledging what has been overlooked, they give voice to the marginalised. With their initiatives, they are building the foundations for decentralised spaces of ethical decision-making and encouraging shared responsibility for the environment we live in. In other words, it is only after we address the issues of social relations, anthropocentrism, dominance, and hierarchy that we can start building the foundation for coexistence. This will be a chance to reflect on the kind of world we want to live in or, better yet, could live in. And this is key, enabling us to contemplate the vital importance of developing an alternative and the process of building an alternative as an act of rebellion against the present state.
I am a firm believer in the power of design—and its fierce critic. Both notions are related to time. Design has the capability of providing more time in an age in which, for the human species, time is becoming an increasingly limited commodity. But in order to achieve that, design needs to reinvent itself. It must begin building the conditions to re-establish life in timelessness; life of a human species that only has to concern itself with the mortality of the individual and not the finitude of the entire humankind. Achieving that will require a break with the current—seemingly unchangeable—automatic processes and procedures. We need actions that will destroy the current pattern of predictions. We need an answer to the question of how, in this continuous state of exception that is subordinated to capital, we can even start thinking and establishing the possibility for action—action that will establish a discontinuity with the continuous state of exception we are living in. Once we recognise design’s role as a catalyst of potentiality, a catalyst of establishing an alternative to what exists, we can also recognise it as an instigator, as well as the binding element and tool for fostering sharing, solidarity-based economies. Hence, as Antonia Birnbaum wrote, “if we are to lead it, we first need to demonstrate the capability for living a life different to the life of the submissive”, and the selected text is trying to do just that. It is showcasing the alternatives to the life of the submissive, and lighting the path on how to work collaboratively to create the conditions for the development of multiple alternatives.
Stephanie Travis, The International Journal of Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp.1–14
Lisa Zamberlan and Stephanie Wilson, The International Journal of Design Education, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp.1–16
Ian Gwilt and Jennifer Williams, Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal—Annual Review, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp.81–98