main event papanek exhibition


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

First three images: Installation view «Victor Papanek: The Politics of Design», 2018 © Vitra Design Museum, photo: Norbert Miguletz
Last image: © Papanek Foundation, photo: Andreas Sütterlin

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.

Further information


Papanek Symp 2019

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

Further Information

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.

Keynote Design Museum London 22 Feb 19 The Other Way

Keynote Lecture

The Other Way: Designing a Sustainable Tomorrow

London Design Museum, UK
February 22 10.00–17:30

Prof. Alison J. Clarke

Further information

The keynote addresses the issues raised in an international symposium celebrating the ways in which transdisciplinary creative practices generate new approaches to sustainable innovation. Tracing debates of the sustainable to their origins in earlier design practice, the lecture asks how a new generation of designers, liberated from the disciplinary conventions of previous generations, might address a future in which socio-environmental have moved from the periphery to the centre of design practice.

Opening Keynote Lecture Bauhaus Festival March 20 19

Opening Keynote Lecture

Victor Papanek: The Politics of Design and the Role of Design Education

Bauhaus Festival School FUNDAMENTAL,
Bauhaus, Dessau, Germany
March 20 2019, 19.00

Prof. Alison J. Clarke

Further information

The émigré trajectories of Bauhaus designers, and the international impact they made on the objects and discourse of modernism forms a prominent theme of design history. This lecture considers another émigré story – that of Austrian-American Victor Papanek, whose work was defined by an ambivalence toward the functional modernism espoused by his fellow émigrés. It examines how his life as an émigré generated an alternative design approach, and the founding of socially responsible design as a pedagogic force. This lecture is delivered as part of the Bauhaus Dessau Centenary celebrations, under the theme School Fundamental.

The Problem of the ‘Social’ in Design Feb 21 2019 Politechnico di Milano

Public Lecture

The Problem of the ‘Social’ in Design

Politechnico di Milano
Polifactory, Milano
February 21, 15.00

Prof. Alison J. Clarke

Further information

Over the last decade social design has evolved as a method, as much as an output, of design practice underpinned by the boom in arts-based design research. This talk delivered as part of the PhD  Design Festival 2019 examines the origins, and some of the discontents, of this movement asking who the audience for the ‘social’ in design really is, and how far design can go in addressing the micro-politics of everyday life.

Past Events by Year


2019, 10 January
Guest hosted by Anita Posch, organised by Martina Grünewald
Digital Currencies and Smart Contracts: Bitcoin, Blockchain & Co.
University of Applied Arts, Vienna, Design History and Theory, Seminar Room


2018, 22 November
Prof. Alison J. Clarke
Public Lecture
Design Revolution
Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany

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, 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 March 22–June 10
Dana Abdulla
Workshop Series
Black as hell, strong as death, sweet as love: coffeehouse debates on decolonising design
Department of Design History and Theory
University of Applied Arts Vienna

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, 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, 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

Undesign Symposium Poster
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

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

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