Occupy Design Launch
Images from the weekend
This a call to all designers and anyone interested in design to join us
for a weekend of debate, talks, workshops and action that will launch
Why Occupy Design?
Design plays a big part in creating the everyday world we live in.
Designers imaginations energy and creativity must be channelled away
from stoking desire for wasteful consumption, whitewashing the dirty and
inhuman acts of corporate power and creating products that harm the
environment into starting to construct the world anew, collectively with
We cannot not change the world. Occupy Design! Designers for Occupy!
Saturday 28, Sunday 29 January
The Rag Factory
16 Heneage Street
London E1 5LJ
12pm – 6pm
People struggle with each other over the sense they make of the social and natural world, and over their projects and social relations. They do this through language and sign making. The words and signs we create and use come, not from dictionaries, but from other people’s mouths, and they belong both to us and to them, we share a language with those around us, both our allies and our antagonists, but we struggle over its use. This struggle over meaning becomes more visible at all levels of society in times of crisis and revolution.
This talk will look at this struggle. On one side how Neo-Liberal forms of contemporary Capitalism have used signs -often using Designers– to help shape the values of society in negative ways reinforcing the worst kinds of narcissistic individualism in tandem with processes of urban privatisation that have undermined the sense of the public and community in the city spaces we live in, and created millions of unhappy, unsatisfied people.
This will be contrasted with a presentation of a wide range of socially and politically engaged projects by activists and people in struggle that I describe as creative resistance because they are more closely aligned with social and political movements rather than purely the fields of art and design. These projects have used signs and forms of Ethical Spectacle to both attack the system and offer a temporary symbolic space to imagine a life after Capitalism in brilliant and exciting ways, and as such will, I hope, provide inspiration for the weekend.
Communication design is used to sell products – but even when it is not explicitly engaged in manufacturing consumer desire, design can function to conceal the impacts of conspicuous consumption and the socio-political-economic system through a process known as symbolic violence. While communication design can be used to reveal consequences, illustrate systemic dynamics and facilitate public processes – capitalism needs designers to promote consumption not to critique consumption! The values embedded in capitalism are reproduced by the design industry. Communication design serves not only to whitewash the destructive practices of corporate entities but to perpetuate the point of view of the culturally, politically and economically powerful.
While there is some vague anti-consumerist and anti-corporate rhetoric in design circles – a cynical stance, on its own, will not transform the dysfunctional political systems. What is urgently needed in design is new form of politically, socially and ecologically engaged design practice. The work of building new social relations that can resist and transform political and economic institutions requires transparent, truthful and participatory communication systems. Designers must engage with social movements who have a legacy of creating agency and developing the means to see through oppressive cultural practices. In this way design can become a force for emancipation rather than manipulation.
15:15 ’This Space is Not for Hire’ – poster workshop – Cactus Network
This will be a practical workshop where participants are invited to develop and design posters for the Occupy movement, on specific issues or general calls to action. This will be a collaborative process with debates about the issues and production possibilities. The workshop continues on Sunday by which time we hope to have designs ready to be screen printed, stenciled on walls or for the next issue of the “Occupier” poster newspaper. To make best use of the time we invite you to come with ideas for slogans and images to work with, as well as some basic tools like scalpels and thick pens.
12:00 ‘The Occupied Times & other Occupied Media’ by OT design + editorial team.
13:00 ‘Commons Taking Form’ workshop by Bianca Elzenbaumer of Brave New Alps
“The more we depend on money and markets to satisfy our needs and follow our desire, the more we are exposed to a vicious circle of dependency that pits livelihoods against each other.” (Massimo De Angelis)
How to construct new modes of co-production and access to means of existence? A hands-on workshop to gather, explore and expand ideas of how the creation of social commons can reduce our dependency of the markets.
Together we will generate and develop ideas of how our everyday activities and resources could contribute to value-practices that differ from those of capital. To explore our ideas, we will improvise small-scale models to see what form our creation of commons could take.
If you can, please bring along scissors, cutting knifes, pencils, etc.