Upcoming Events

The Politics of Design


Victor Papanek: The Politics of Design

Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany

29 September 2018 – 10 March 2019

Curated by Prof. Alison J. Clarke with Amelie Klein, Vitra Design Museum and curatorial advisor Jan Boelen, Design Academy Eindhoven.

Papanek Foundation archival management, Dr. Leah Armstrong

The Papanek Foundation presents the international travelling exhibition Victor Papanek: The Politics of Design, co-curated and organised with Vitra Design Museum in Weil Am Rhein, Germany. The expansive show presents varied and previously unseen materials from the Papanek Foundation archive pertaining to design activist Victor Papanek’s lifelong career, highlighting the crucial theme of design as a political and social tool. Alongside the exploration of Papanek’s links with key thinkers and design figures, ranging from media theorist Marshall



McLuhan, maverick futurist Buckminster Fuller to leading feminist graphic designer Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, the exhibition casts light on the legacy of 1960s and 1970s activism through the presentation of contemporary exhibits dealing with politically pertinent issues ranging from state violence, to climate change, bio-synthetics, and the precariousness of citizenship.

Victor Papanek: The Politics of Design features work from cutting edge practitioners such as: Forensic Architecture; Natsai Audrey Chieza; Flui Colectivo; Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg; Femke Herregraven; NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism/Hypen-Labs; Lucy and Jorge Orta; Tomás Saraceno; Maya Jay Varadaraj.

This exhibition is a cooperation between the Vitra Design Museum and the Barcelona Design Museum, in collaboration with the Victor J. Papanek Foundation, University of Applied Arts Vienna, and is funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation.

More info


Public Lecture

Design Revolution

Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany

22 November 2018, 18:30

Prof. Alison J. Clarke

This open lecture, by Alison J. Clarke, co-curator of the exhibition Victor Papanek: The Politics of Design, explores the design revolution of the late 1960s and early 1970s when Papanek’s book Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change emerged as a manifesto for the politics of design and sustainability. Looking beyond the clichéd images of student activism and hippiedom, the lecture frames Papanek’s design, networks and interventions in the context of the late Cold War geo-political historical context; arguing that design’s newly honed political imperative was borne of the U.S. military-industrial complex, as much of idealistic counter cultures.

Interview: ‘Design Is Never Neutral’



Material Culture I: Designing Value(s)

University of Applied Arts, Vienna, Design History and Theory, Seminar Room

6 December 2018, 10:00-12:30

Hosted by Martina Grünewald, with Tina Feiertag and Clemens Schneider



Design costs money. But what’s in a price? Informed by key sociological and economic thinking about the relationship between culture and economy, this open session of this semester’s Material Culture I seminar series questions how creative labour is being evaluated in and around everyday client relations. Photographer and landscape designer Clemens Schneider and graphic designer Tina Feiertag join us to discuss the diverse impacts and effects value judgments have had on their career paths, ranging from pricing and contract negotiations around their services and products to legal frameworks, trade (de)regulation as well as self-branding and -marketing strategies.


Papanek Symposium 2019

Real World: Design, Politics, Future

Porto Design Biennale, Portugal

26 – 27 September 2019

Organised by Prof. Alison J. Clarke and Francisco Laranjo, Modes of Criticism


The Papanek Symposium 2019 investigates design’s inherent tensions in the context of rising global far-right populism and the asphyxiating manipulation of information in a post-truth era. What potential is there for envisaging alternative political futures, and what role might design, and its politics, have in contributing to those futures? Debating the future of design: The places, ideas and means by which the politics of design, and the design of politics come together, speakers include Ramia Mazé, Flavia Dzodan, Akwugo Emejulu, Ahmed Ansari, Cameron Tonkinwise. A series of workshops and open forums will be led by the Decolonising Design Group.

More info

Past Events

2018, 1 December
Roundtable Discussion
‘Displacements, Modern Art and Metropolises’
with Partha Mitter and Elvan Zabunyan
“Arrival Cities: Migrating Artists and New Metropolitan Topographies” Symposium, Zilk Munich

2018, 8 – 9 November
Freud and the Émigré. Austrian Émigrés and Exiles and the Legacy of Psychoanalysis in Britain from the 1930s to the 1970s
Concept by Elana Shapira with Daniela Finzi, Research Director of the Sigmund Freud Museum
Freud Museum, Vienna

2018, 15 October
Alison J. Clarke
Keynote Lecture
‘Design Anthropology and Spatial Relations’
Bauhaus Dessau
Dessau, Germany

2018, 5 October
Alison J. Clarke
Keynote Lecture
‘Victor Papanek: Design, Ecology, and Global Activism’
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
Providence, USA

2018, 28 September
Alison J. Clarke
Panel discussion
‘Can Design Save the World?’
Vitra Design Museum
Weil-am-Rhein, Germany

2018, 22 July
Leah Armstrong
Panel discussion
‘Fashion Utopias’
Transfashional network, State of Fashion 2018
Arnhem, Netherlands

2018, 6 July
Leah Armstrong
Book Launch: ‘Fashioning Professionals’
London College of Fashion, UK

2018, 26 June
Elana Shapira
‘Jewish Patrons and Viennese Modernism- the Question of Belonging’
Bar Ilan University, Israel

2018, 28 May
Dr Jennifer Kaufmann-Buhler
‘Toolkits for change: American systems furniture and the open plan office’
Seminar room, Design History and Theory
Postgasse 6

2018, 17 May
Elana Shapira
‘Jewish clients and architects, Viennese modernism and the sociology of aesthetics’
Slovak National Library,
Bratislava, Slovakia

2018, 12 April
Alison J. Clarke
Lecture: ‘The Politics of Design’
École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs
EnsadLab, ‘Science of Doubt’ series,
Paris, France

2018, 11-12 April
Elana Shapira
‘Narratives of National Rebirth in Frederick Kiesler’s Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem’
Study day: 100 Years of Planning and building in Palestine and Israel
Innsbruck University, Austria

2018, 10 March
Alison J. Clarke
‘Design Anthropology: Agencies, Inclusions and Exigencies’
Conference: The Agents of Design/Design as Agency
Concordia University, Montreal, Canada

2017, 17 December
Alison J. Clarke
Symposium: Bauhaus Lab 2017: Between Chairs
Bauhaus Dessau, Germany

2017, 10 December
Elana Shapira
‘Adolf Loos und seine Schneider: Über Mode und Innendekoration in Wien um 1900’
Imperial Furniture Collection, Vienna

2017, 30 November
Elana Shapira
‘People are more important than things: Austrian Émigré designers in Britain’
Conference: Designs on Britain: Jewish Émigré Designers, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

2017, 9-10 November
Alison J. Clarke and Leah Armstrong(Co-Convenors)
‘International Design Organisations: Histories, Legacies, Values’
In collaboration with Centre for Design History, University of Brighton

2017, 27 October
Alison J. Clarke
‘Design as Futurism and its Discontents’
Keynote delivered on occasion of award of Honorary Doctorate, University of Southern Denmark, Odense

2017, 21 October 2017
”Chrono-Voyeurism: A Design Anthropology of Retro Food’
Alison J. Clarke
Experiencing Food: International Food Design & Food Studies Conference, University of Lisbon, Portugal

2017, 22 September 2017
Alison J. Clarke (Director and Co-organiser) and Leah Armstrong(Co-Organiser)
‘Papanek Symposium 2017: Design and Ethics’
Austrian Embassy, London
Official partner of London Design Festival 2017
Papanek Symposium 2017

2017, 6 September
Leah Armstrong
‘Working from home’: Representing the Professional Designer in Post-War Britain’
Conference: Mediating Cultural Work
University of Leicester, UK

2017, 28 June
Clemens Winkler
‘Political Clouds’
Department of Design History and Theory
University of Applied Arts Vienna

2017, 24 May
Burkhard Meltzer
‘Vitamin Water: How Design has become Art’s Critical Agent’
Department of Design History and Theory
University of Applied Arts Vienna

2017, 10 May
Julijonas Urbonas
‘Thingly Philosophy, Transtextuality and Material Hermeneutics in Art and Design’
Department of Design History and Theory
University of Applied Arts Vienna

2017, 3 May
Eric Anderson
‘Colour Cure: Freud, Optical Science and Design Theory’
Sigmund Freud Museum Vienna

2017, 26 April
Daisy Ginsberg
‘The Dream of Better’
Department of Design History and Theory
University of Applied Arts Vienna

2017, 28 March
Elana Shapira
Book Launch: ‘Style and Seduction: Jewish Patrons, Architecture and Design in Fin Siècle Vienna’
Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna

2017, 26 January
V&A Design Culture Salon in collaboration with Design History and Theory, University of Applied Arts Vienna
Speakers: Alison J. Clarke, Martina Grünewald, Guy Julier, Matthias Tarasiewicz
“Alternative Exchange: How Does Design Create Alternative Economies in Contemporary Design Culture?”
Angewandte Innovation Lab (AIL), Vienna

2017, 26 January
Guy Julier
Guest Lecture: ‘Economies of Design: Materialising Finance’
University of Applied Arts Vienna

2017, 23 January
Leah Armstrong
Invited speaker: ‘Transparency in Design: From the Age of Enlightenment to the Age of Endarkenment’
Technical University, Vienna

2017, 12 January
Dr Stefanie Wuschitz
Guest Lecture: ‘Maker Culture: A Feminist Perspective’
University of Applied Arts Vienna



2016, 24 November
Leanne Wierzba
Guest Lecture: ‘What is Luxury and for whom?’
University of Applied Arts Vienna

2016, 23 November
Leah Armstrong
Work-in-Progress, ‘A new Image for a New Profession: Self-image and Representation in the Professionalisation of Design 1945-1960’
University of Applied Arts Vienna

2016, 20 November
Elana Shapira
Guest Lecture: Annual Zilk Lecture, ‘Un-designed Identities: Jewish Patrons and Viennese Modernism’
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

2016, 9 November
Ufaq Inam
‘Bazaar Economy & Traditional Medicine: An Ethnographic investigation in Papad Mandi, Lahore
University of Applied Arts Vienna

2016, 26 October
Leah Armstrong
‘Looking Inwards and Facing Outwards: the Society of Industrial Artists in Britain 1930-1967’
ICDHS Conference, Taipei, Taiwan

2016, 13-14 October
Dr Elana Shapira
‘Design Dialogue: Jewish Contributions to Viennese Modernism’
MAK Design Forum, Stubenring 5, 1010 Vienna

2016, 12 October
Elisabeth Peterman, PhD Candidate, Design History and Theory, University of Applied Arts Vienna
Work-in-Progress: ‘Ways to Unlock the Trend Industry’
Department of Design History and Theory
University of Applied Arts Vienna

2016, 23-25 September
Alison J. Clarke
Stamps Design Salon, Detroit Design Festival

2016, 9 September
Leah Armstrong
Chair: ‘Time, Objects and the Experience of the Home’
Design History Society Annual Conference Middlesex UK

2016, 23 June
Onkar Kular, Stanley Picker Fellow in Design and Professor in Design Interventions, HDK, Gothenburg University.
Designing Interventions
Department of Design History and Theory
University of Applied Arts

2016, 8 June
Carmen Weisskopf, !Mediengruppe Betnik
Random Darknet Shopping Bots, Mail Art and Surveillance Algorithms
Department of Design History and Theory
University of Applied Arts

2016, 2 June
Björn Franke and Alison J. Clarke
Department of Design History and Theory
University of Applied Arts
Convened as part of the FWF Research Project “Émigré Design Networks and the Founding of Social Design”
Full Programme

2016, 25 May
Edward Saunders
Negotiating Questions of Method in Biography
Department of Design History and Theory
University of Applied Arts

2016, 23 May
Christopher Long
Central European Modernists and the Varieties of Southern California Design
Department of Design History and Theory
University of Applied Arts

2016, 18 May
Alison J. Clarke
Keynote Lecture: ‘Design Anthropology: Reassessing Historiography and Critical Methods in Design Studies’
University of Antwerp

2016, 4 May
Heng Zhi
Understanding Shenzai
Department of Design History and Theory
University of Applied Arts

2016, 20 April
Tido von Oppeln
Design Exhibited: Versuche zu einer Praxis der Theorie im Design
Department of Design History and Theory
University of Applied Arts

2015, 13 November
Alison J. Clarke
‘Designs for the Real World: Cold War “Soft” Diplomacy and the Emergence of Radical Design Anthropology in 1960s Design & Engineering’
Engineering Department, University of Cambridge, UK

2015, 30–31 October
Alison J. Clarke
‘Buckminster Fuller’s Reindeer Abattoir: The Influence of Finland’s North on 1960s Radical Design’
North as Meaning in Design and Art
Kulttuuritalo Korundi, Lapland

2015, 14 October
Book Discussion with John Thackara
‘How to thrive in the next economy’
Café Prückel, Wien

2015, 24–25 September
Alison J. Clarke
‘Work Activity: The Politics of Work and Design in a Neo-Liberal Economy’
Fair Design: International Conference on Design Theory and Criticism
Academy of Fine Arts, Faculty of Design, Warsaw, Poland

2015, 11–13 September
Alison J. Clarke
‘How we live and how we might live: Design and the Spirit of Critical Utopianism’
Annual Design History Society Conference 2015
California College of Arts, San Francisco, USA

2015, 8 June
Alison J. Clarke
‘Buckminster Fuller’s Reindeer Abattoir and Other Designs for the Real World’
NORDES 2015 Conference, Design Ecologies
University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, Stockholm, Sweden

2015, 27-28 May
Alison J. Clarke and Elana Shapira (Co-Organisers)
Emigre Design Culture: Histories of the Social in Design
Papanek Symposium 2015
University of Applied Arts Vienna

2015, 20 February
Alison J. Clarke
How dependent is the design profession on cultures of migration?
Design Culture Salon
Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK

2014, 26 September – 15 December
Alison J. Clarke (Co-Curator)
Exhibition: ‘How Things Don’t Work: The Dreamspace of Victor Papanek’
Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, Parsons The New School for Design,
New York, USA

2014, 4 December
Alison J. Clarke (Co-Curator and Panellist)
Panel Discussion, ‘Permanent Garbage: Victor Papanek and Beautiful Visions of Failed Systems’
Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, Parsons The New School for Design,
New York, USA

2014, 18–19 September
Alison J. Clarke
Keynote: ‘Design Dispersed: The Origins of the Social in Design’
Design Culture: Object, Discipline and Practice
University of Southern Denmark, Kolding

2014, 3 June
Adam Drazin
Setting up a laboratory of material life: Can anthropology and the studio mix?
Lecture Series, Department of Design History and Theory
University of Applied Arts Vienna

2014, 22–23 May
Björn Franke
‘The Future, the Possible and the New’
‘Multiply Futures’: International Design Symposium
Kunstuniversität Linz, Austria

2014, 5 May
Alison J. Clarke
‘Design Activism and the Cultural Cold War’
Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History and Material Culture
New York, USA

2014, 13–16 April
Bryleigh Morsink
‘New Zealand’s Pioneering Emigre Architects: An Exceptional Legacy in the South Pacific’
Crossing Boundaries: Rethinking European Architecture Beyond Europe
University of Palermo, Italy

2014, 10 April
Josef Moser
Das Krankenhaus als Designobjekt: Entwicklung, Tendenzen
Lecture Series
Department of Design History and Theory, University of Applied Arts Vienna

2014, 7–10 April
Alison J. Clarke
Public lecture as Robert W. Deutsch Visiting Scholar Social Design
‘Designer for the Real World’
MICA, Baltimore, USA

2014, 24 April
Alison J. Clarke
‘Where Social Science Meets Design’
Configuring Light/Staging the Social: A New Research Agenda
London School of Economics, UK

2013, 15 November
Alison J. Clarke (Organiser)
Emerging & Alternative Economies of Design: The Social Imperative of Global Design
Papanek Symposium 2013

2013, 14 November
Vinay Venkatramam
Frugal Digital Design? Technology for the Underserved
Papanek Memorial Lecture 2013

2013, 20–23 October
Alison J. Clarke
‘Alternative and Emerging Economies of Design in the City’
UNESCO Summit of Creative Cities
Beijing, China

2013, 13 June
James Hennessey and Alison J. Clarke
Discussion: Nomadic Furniture Revisited
MAK, Vienna

2013, 12 June
James Hennessy
‘How Things Don’t Work’: The Politics of Design
Discussion: Department of Design History and Theory
University of Applied Arts Vienna

2013, 2 March
Alison J. Clarke
‘The Present-day turn towards Design Anthropology’
Design Studies Symposium
Parsons The New School for Design, New York

2013, 10 January
Alison J. Clarke
‘Gadgets, Gizmos and Gimmicks, Anti-Advertising Discourse & 1970s Design Activism’
Institut für Kunstgeschichte, Universität Graz

2012, 14–18 November
Design for the Real World – But which world? What Design? What Real?
American Anthropological Association Annual Conference
San Francisco, USA

2012, 18 October
Alison J. Clarke
‘Actions Speak Louder – Victor Papanek and 1970s Design Activism’
Alvar Aalto Akatemia, Helsinki, Finland

2012, 20 September
Alison J. Clarke
‘Design for the Real World’
Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design Symposium
Royal College of Art, London, UK

2012, 20 June, 6:30pm
Ezio Manzini
‘The War of Times and Places’
Lecture Series, Department of Design History and Theory
University of Applied Arts Vienna

2012, 9 June
Alison J. Clarke
Roundtable Discussion: Critical Pathways in Design Anthropology
Royal Anthropology Institute, London, UK

2012, 22 May
Stephen Duncombe
‘The Art of Activism’
Lecture Series: Department of Design History and Theory
University of Applied Arts Vienna

2012, 11–12 May
Alison J. Clarke
‘A Design Anthropology of the 21st Century Ideal Home’
Spaces and Places: British Design 1948–2012
Victoria & Albert Museum London, UK

2012, 28 March
Ruedi Baur
‘Designing Social Space’
Lecture Series, Department of Design History and Theory
University of Applied Arts Vienna, HS 2

2011, 12 November–25 March 2012
Familienmacher – Vom Festhalten, Verbinden und Loslassen
Volkskundemuseum Vienna

2012, 16 March
Eyal Weizman
‘Notes on Fields and Forums’
Lecture Series, Department of Design History and Theory
University of Applied Arts Vienna

2011, 10–11 November
Alison J. Clarke, Anthony Dunne, Jamer Hunt, Felicity D. Scott, John Thackara
Anti-Design: “Prescription for Rebellion?”
Papanek Symposium 2011
University of Applied Arts Vienna

2011, 9 November
John Thackara
‘Inverting the pyramid: The new geometry of design’
Papanek Foundation Inaugural Lecture
University of Applied Arts Vienna

2011, 8 November
Alison J. Clarke
‘Creative Transformations: Design as a Force for Social Innovation’
Expert Network Creative Industries
Permanent Representation of Austria to the EU in Brussels

2011, 7–10 September
Alison J. Clarke
Design Activism and Social Change
Annual Conference Design History Society 2011
Universitat de Barcelona and Foment de les Arts Decoratives, Barcelona, Spain

2011, 14–16 June
Alison J. Clarke
‘Materiality, Agency and Collecting’
Urban Materiality Workshop
Field Museum and DePaul University, Chicago, USA

2011, 3 March
Alison J. Clarke
‘Design Anthropology: Commodity Critique from Victor Papanek to Superstudio’
RCA/V&A History of Design and Material Culture Seminar
Royal College of Art, London

2011, 10–12 February
Björn Franke (Co-organiser)
Making/Crafting/Designing: Perspectives on Design as a Human Activity
Design Theory Symposium
Akademie Schloss Solitude Stuttgart, Germany