Book release: Designer for the Real World

Book release

Victor Papanek: Designer for the Real World MIT Press 2021

Prof. Alison J. Clarke

image © Papanek Foundation

The history and controversial roots of the social design movement, explored through the life and work of its leading pioneer, Victor Papanek.

In Victor Papanek: Designer for the Real World, Alison Clarke explores the social design movement through the life of its leading pioneer, the Austrian American designer, theorist, and activist Victor Papanek. Papanek’s 1971 best seller, Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change has been translated into twenty-two languages and never fallen out of print. Its politics of social design, anti-corporatism, and environmental sustainability have found renewed pertinence in the twenty-first century and dominate the agendas of design schools today. Drawing extensively on previously unexplored archival sources, Clarke uncovers and contextualizes the movement’s controversial origins and contradictions.

Within the fields of design and environmental studies, Papanek is celebrated as a guru of alternative economics and progressive design. Yet Clarke overturns the notion that socially responsible and sustainable design emerged from the counterculture and alternative politics of the late 1960s and 1970s. Instead, she exposes its roots in the late Cold War technocratic culture and policies of US military and development interventionism. She examines the shift away from industrial design as an expression of industrial rationalism toward flawed attempts at humanitarian intervention through quasi-anthropological approaches and design strategies aimed at the socially and culturally excluded. She also casts a critical light on the current social design movement by revealing the macropolitics and neocolonial history in which it is embedded.

Writing Critical Design Biography

Guest Lecture

Writing Critical Design Biography

Online Event,
Işık University, School of Industrial Design, Istanbul
June 4 2021, 18.00 (TRT)

Alison J. Clarke

image © Papanek Foundation

On the occasion of the launch of her MIT Press monograph, Victor Papanek: Designer for the Real World, Alison J. Clarke discusses with Dr. Saltuk Özemir the process of researching and writing critical biography in design. In challenging the tradition of classic hagiographical treatments, that typically cast the designer as an heroic agent of innovation, Clarke offers an alternative insight into the ways in which critical biography can open up more complex ways of understanding the historical, political and societal role of design and designers.

Beyond Interiority: The Design Politics of Normativity

Keynote Lecture

Beyond Interiority: The Design Politics of Normativity

Online Event
Royal Danish Academy, Copenhagen
April 16 2021, 15.00

Alison J. Clarke

This keynote lecture on the occasion of the launch of the Centre for Interior Studies, Royal Danish Academy, Copenhagen, argues against a retreat to the notion of the interior as an expression of interiority and subjectivity by exploring the exponential expansion of trans-disciplinary studies of “the complex interior” in both contemporary architectural practice and academic discourse.

Victor Papanek: The Politics of Design

Exhibition

Victor Papanek:
The Politics of Design

Design Museum Den Bosch,
Netherlands
October 17 2020 – March 23 2021
C-Mine,
Genk, Belgium,
10 March – 12 July 2020
Design Museum Barcelona,
Catalonia, Spain
31 October 2019 – 2 February 2020
Vitra Design Museum,
Weil am Rhein, Germany
29 September 2018 – 10 March 2019

Co-curated by
Prof. Alison J. Clarke ,
a co-operation with Vitra Design Museum,
Papanek Foundation
and Museu del Disseny Barcelona

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.

This Time It’s Personal

Lecture

This Time It’s Personal

Online Event
June 9 2021, 14:00

Carol Tulloch

Registration

This talk will look at the broader concept of making – the home, the self with a focus on one of Professor Carol Tulloch’s main research interests – people of the African diaspora and their rights to be, which often has been claimed through quiet or conscious activism. Tulloch is a writer, curator and Professor of Dress, Diaspora and Transnationalism at the University of the Arts London (UAL), based at Chelsea College of Arts. She is also a member of the Transnational Art, Identity and Nation Research Centre, and Chelsea College of Arts/V&A Fellow in Black Visual and Material Culture at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Purity Security

Guest Lecture

Purity and Security: A Cultural History of Plexiglass

Online Event
May 11 2021, 16.00

Shannon Mattern

Registration

Shannon Mattern is a Professor of Anthropology at the New School for Social Research. Her writing and teaching focus on archives, libraries, and other media spaces; media infrastructures; spatial epistemologies; and mediated sensation and exhibition. She is the author of The New Downtown Library: Designing with Communities; Deep Mapping the Media City; and Code and Clay, Data and Dirt, all published by University of Minnesota Press; and The City Is Not a Computer, forthcoming from Princeton University Press. Her talk will focus on the contentious cultural history of Plexiglass as a material intervention.

Pandemic Objects Guest Lecture

Guest Lecture

Pandemic Objects

Online Event
April 21 2021, 14.00

Brendan Cormier

Registration

This talk will focus on Pandemic Objects, an editorial project initiated by Brendan Cormier, Senior Curator, for the Victoria and Albert Museum which has been running since the first lockdown in Spring 2020. Pandemic Objects compiles and reflects on objects that have taken on new meaning and purpose during the coronavirus outbreak. During times of pandemic, a host of everyday often-overlooked ‘objects’ (in the widest possible sense of the term) are suddenly charged with new urgency. Toilet paper becomes a symbol of public panic, a forehead thermometer a tool for social control, convention centres become hospitals, while parks become contested public commodities. By compiling these objects and reflecting on their changing purpose and meaning, Pandemic Objects aims to paint a unique picture of the pandemic and the pivotal role objects play within it.

Lecture Design for the Real World?

Lecture

Design for the Real World?

Design Museum Den Bosch,
the Netherlands,
16 October 2020,
17.00 & 19.00

Prof. Alison J. Clarke

On the occasion of the opening of Victor Papanek: The Politics of Design at Design Museum Den Bosch, the exhibition initiator and co-curator, Alison J. Clarke, overturns the notion that socially responsible and sustainable design emerged from the counterculture and alternative politics of the late 1960s. Casting a critical light on the current social design movement, she reveals the macropolitics and neocolonial history in which it is embedded: the subject of her forthcoming monograph, Victor Papanek: Designer for the Real World (MIT Press, 2021.)

Lecture Ecology and the Sociotechnics of Design

Lecture

Ecology and the Sociotechnics of Design

C-Mine, Genk, Belgium
6 March 2020, 18.00

Prof. Alison J. Clarke

Further Information

This lecture explores how ”environment” and “ecology” emerged as key drivers of a newly honed politics of design in the 1970s. Clarke argues that the vision of social, environmental and transdisciplinary design, far from being part of a liberal progressive discourse, had its origins in the sociotechnics of Cold War experimentation.

Past Events by Year

2019

2019, 30 October
Prof. Alison J. Clarke
Opening Exhibition Talk
Victor Papanek:
The Politics of Design

Barcelona Design Museum, Barcelona

2019, 26–27 September
Organised by Prof. Alison J. Clarke and Francisco Laranjo
Papanek Symposium 2019
Papanek Symposium 2019: Real World: Design, Politics, Future
Porto Design Biennale, Portugal

2019, June 13
Dr. Martina Grünewald
Open seminar session with Magdalena Reiter
“Make Design Open”
Design History and Theory
University of Applied Arts Vienna

2019, May 16–17
Concept and organizer: Dr. Elana Shapira
Symposium
Design Transformation: Jews and Cultural Identity in Central European Modernism
University of Applied Arts Vienna

2019, May 2–4
Prof. Alison J. Clarke
Keynote Lecture
Politics of Design: Manufacturing the “Undeveloped Peoples”
Design and Authority, 4T Design and Design History Conference

2019, June 19
Design as Politics Lecture Series 2019
Tim Parsons and Jessica Charlesworth
“Catalog for the Post Human: Reflections on the Future of Human Enhancement”
Design History and Theory
University of Applied Arts Vienna

2019, June 5
Design as Politics Lecture Series 2019
Roman Kirschner
“Entangled Environments and Some Questions on Methods”
Design History and Theory
University of Applied Arts Vienna

2019, May 22
Design as Politics Lecture Series 2019
Noam Toran
“One Leg Up and a Hole in the Ground”
Design History and Theory
University of Applied Arts Vienna

2019, May 8
Design as Politics Lecture Series 2019
Ruth Sonderegger
“Kritik als Prozess”
Design History and Theory
University of Applied Arts Vienna

2019, April 10
Design as Politics Lecture Series 2019
Daniela Gruber
“EIN-SICHTEN”
Design History and Theory
University of Applied Arts Vienna

2019, March 20
Prof. Alison J. Clarke
Opening Keynote Lecture
Victor Papanek: The Politics of Design and the Role of Design Education
Bauhaus Festival School FUNDAMENTAL, Bauhaus, Dessau, Germany

2019, 22 February
Prof. Alison J. Clarke
Keynote Lecture
The Other Way: Designing a Sustainable Tomorrow
London Design Museum, UK

2019, 21 February
Prof. Alison J. Clarke
Public Lecture
The Problem of the ‘Social’ in Design
Politechnico di Milano
Polifactory, Milano

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

2018


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

2018, 8–9 November
Symposium
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

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

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
Undesign
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

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

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