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Design Lab #6
(How) do we (want to) work (together) (as (socially engaged) designers (students and neighbours)) (in neoliberal times)?

24.06.2020 to 10.07.2020
Kunstgewerbemuseum

Originally planned as an analogue project set in a physical museum space, Design Lab #6 has now  reconceived its presentation for digital space. Building on the question “(How) do we (want to) work (together) (as (socially engaged) designers (students and neighbours)) (in neoliberal times), the Studio Experimentelles Design from the Hochschule für bildende Künste (HFBK) in Hamburg extends an invitation to a three-week virtual research festival.

Design, Work and Teaching as Social and Political Practices

Within the context of the research festival, the Studio Experimentelles Design considers artistic collectivity, life-long (un-)learning, care work, self-exploitation, network structures, the dilemma of project logic, involuntary personal responsibility, alternative economies, informality, immaterial work, academic self-organisation, art strikes, precarity, alienation and new subjectivities.

The Public Research Process

Three days a week people are invited to attend reading circles, workshops and lectures at the website www.howtowork.live. Discussions with guests, friends and the public explore the crucial topics of creative work and exhaustion, care work and precarity, and collaborative work and exploitation. The outcome will be documented in a publication and future exhibition.

Studio Experimentelles Design

Since 2011 the Studio Experimentelles Design has been pursuing a politically and socially committed approach to design at the Öffentliche Gestaltungsberatung, a community design initiative, in St. Pauli (Hamburg). This collaboration attempts to use creative means to work with and for those people generally excluded from design. This critical standpoint regarding design enables as well as requires new ways of working.

But how do collective and interdisciplinary work relationships function? How do alternative practices and subjectivities define themselves within the context of the radical social change taking place in labour relations and forms of learning during neoliberal times? How can new, solidarity-based forms of collaboration be devised? Open discussions, interdisciplinary collaboration, collectivity, excessive discourses, student self-organisation, combinations of theory and practice, and the varied involvement of non-university initiatives and initiators are characteristic of the current search for alternative forms of (collaborative) work. Discussing, devising and trying out these new approaches are an integral part of the design debate.

For many years the Studio Experimentelles Design has been practicing district-focused design support with its project work at the Öffentliche Gestaltungsberatung St. Pauli, a public, community-based initiative offering design advice. The approach to design experimented with here, along with the initiative’s collaboration with neighbours and the social sponsor GWA St. Pauli, is changing the view of what design is supposed to be.

Lastly, there is also a need for a critical discussion across all of society, which is characterised worldwide by radical change occurring in labour relations. The increasing disparity in earning capacity, accelerated global division of labour, neoliberal subjectification of risks and conflicts, and an expanding precarity on all levels also affect design – specifically in people’s working conditions, as well as in the daily lives of those involved in design, either as practitioners or as people affected by it.

The Design Lab series is supported by the Kuratorium Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Board of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation).

Related content

Online research festival Design Lab #6
© Design Lab #6
Kunstgewerbemuseum

Design Lab #6 at the Kunstgewerbemuseum – Now Online!

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