What has design to do with politics? DISEÑA from Chile has just arrived

Recently this lovely collection of texts and reflections upon design and politics from Chile arrived in my mailbox. Me (Li Jönsson) and Tau Ulv Lenskjold contributed with a text upon multi-species ethnography through design.

Find the journal here; http://www.revistadisena.com/revista-disena/ and for latest ssue #11 http://www.revistadisena.com/numeros/once/

Martín Tironi, who is the guest editor, and who I had the pleasure to meet for the first time at DRS last year and through the STS community is a sociologist and active researcher upon design. As he himself writes and sums up the theme of journal:

What has design to do with politics?

The usual answer would be: nothing. At first glimpse, politics would be a realm indifferent and alien to design. While politics must deal with the governing of human interests for the sake of common good, design, instead, would be focused on form, the aesthetic and functional arrangement of the things that populate the world. The realm of the political would be populated by norms and values (liberty, tolerance, etc.), founding its duties on what Weber called ‘the legitimate use of force’ (Weber, 1944). The field of design, on its part, would respond to the rule of the needs of the user, focusing its forces on transforming, creatively and sensitively, the materialities into useful, usable or decorative products. According to this conception, design would be merely a medium over which the forces of politics and culture act. It is true that through design objects we may recognise social categories and access a series of meanings about the status of a given social group (Bourdieu, 1979). But under this premise, design acts as a mediator that makes certain positions visible in the social structure, but that by itself wouldn’t offer a strictly political mode of existence, nor would it be worthy of it. It would, at most, be an accessory of the political. From this reductionist perspective, design would only contribute to create the illusion, seductive and fetishist (Baudrillard, 1994) of the political reality. But the real politics takes place in the arena of reflexive and rational deliberation between human beings. So, to argue that the forms of design possess in themselves political properties would not only seem mistaken: it would mean for design meddling in a field where it has no competence. It is precisely the separation between politics and design, deeply rooted in the thought and action of the latter, which this dossier attempts to thematise and problematise.

SEE http://revistadisena.com/pdf/revistadisena_11_ISSN0718-8447_rethinking-politics-from-design.pdf

ABOUT: DISEÑA Magazine is a publication of Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile School of Design whose aim is to promote the culture of design in the country, fostering a scenario for discussion among national and foreign peers. The magazine is a very good platform for showcasing and positioning the panorama of contemporary national design, and as such, present authors and subjects that help make visible the role of the discipline. It seeks to be the natural path for a community of researchers and professionals who influence our material reality, whose knowledge is a valuable input for the future innovation processes in Chile and Latin America. 

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About lijonsson

Li Jönsson has an interdisciplinary approach to design that engages with a diverse set of critical and practical ideas. Working at the intersection between design and science and technology studies (STS) her PhD-work is set in the context of new technology & innovation projects. Her interest lies in the attempt to move beyond the anthropocentric positioning in design by linking discussions between more recent materialist approaches at the same time as being a designer/maker. Having previously worked with topics such as energy use and senior health care - more recent projects explore computational technology and the politics of participation as a ‘speculative co-design’.
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