Early twenty century. Modernism gives birth to the discipline of design in Europe. As a loving parent, it nurtures and educates this new discipline, gives designers a set of values that still resonate and are exported all over the western world: a rejection of craft and ornament, favoring reduction over expansion, industry over craft.
The 80s and 90s of the twentieth century. Design goes through its adolescence and as happens during puberty, it rejects the values of its parents: ornament is celebrated again, and instead of serving the social good, designers become superstars. Design becomes a commodity.
Early 21st century, about a century after the birth of Modernism. Design realizes it is finally growing up. It recognizes and respects the values of its parents while acknowledging the fact that some of these values no longer hold. The discipline of design (especially graphic design) has grown up, has atomized in uncountable subdisciplines and is sometimes rarely recognized as such. The world in which it operates has become smaller and bigger at the same time and design is facing new values, ideas and belief systems defined by other cultures, technologies and ideologies.
These values raise all kinds of questions: why is the western perspective on design so dominant? Why is 90% of all design produced by the same software from one specific region (Silicon Valley)? How prevalent is the western design canon? How dominant is the western bias in our aesthetic preferences, computational algorithms and other technologies?
Can we counter this narrative? What are inspiring alternatives? In China, WeChat serves as an invaluable distribution model for non-government sanctioned independent publishers. In Kenya, locals make financial transactions with their smartphones by sending cellphone minutes. In Japan, designers are experimenting with Excel as an alternative layout tool since it works better with Kanji.
In other words, how can we counter the hegemony of the western Modernist idiom, and try to find new and inclusive voices in design.
Led by an international team of 6 tutors from the teaching and guest faculty of Graphic Design Arnhem, the 2019 edition of Summer Sessions will be devoted to exploring different design methodologies to challenge the current design canon. Through a series of intense workshops given by tutors, participants will be introduced to each tutor's specialized practices and skill sets, and will in turn be encouraged to experiment, play and (re)invent their own personal narratives.
We will explore / reinvent / speculate / expand on / add to / question / critique / rewrite our current — Tools— Economies— (Visual) language— Spaces, and — Labor