International Design Discourse | all Posts

Saskia SchmidtWork Work Balance

In her lecture, Saskia Schmidt talked about her “Werdegang”, from what place she started her career, where she is now and all the steps in between. Also, she showed various projects she did or worked on together with her colleagues in the past. A lot of emphasis was on internships, the winding path of starting your own venture as freelancer and what it’s like working in agencies. To me, it felt like she spent a lot of her work time being the intern and going through struggles while trying to create her own, independent business. It made me doubt whether I’ll ever be a person really flourishing in the “agency life”. I do like collaborative spaces, however I’m not too keen on design companies in a traditional sense, spending so much time and energy in shaking off the “intern” label.

Andrey Sudarikov – playdisplay

Andrey had a very energetic spirit and put a lot of information (maybe a bit too much for me to process) into a short timeframe. His company playdisplay is known for creating interactive media installations all around the world, even at airports. It was interesting to hear how much the amount of people working on a project can vary – from a few 7 people to around 100. They manage to get even adults into a state of playfulness and unconcerned presence, one that’s unfortunately often reserved to children. Also, Design in Russia seems to differ quite from what we’re used to.

Astrid Kury – why collaborate?

To me, Astrid Kury presented a very well thought out selection of projects she either worked on or was inspired by herself. Since her talk was all about collaboration, the projects featured lots of different people from different backgrounds. She asked the question “what kind of world do we want to live in?” Do we hoard information and only look after ourselves or shouldn’t we actually invest in a sharing culture and aim for the best outcome together?

Astrid brought up the benefits of collaborating, but also any challenges that might occur. I enjoyed her talk, especially the part regarding involving people with special (dis)abilities.

What impressed me most was the design agency La Casa De Carlota Astrid mentioned. In this bureau, there are several people with disabilities of all kinds (e.g. down’s and autism) employed as illustrators, artists and typographers. They get paid the industry standard and are included into the design process just like any other person. Astrid showed us a short video by featuring many of the employees. It was stated that those are very creative and free spirits; rather than copy, they all have their own unique style. To me, it seemed that the people working at La Casa De Carlota truly create from presence, not from hoarding pictures from Pinterest on a mood board and then synthesising it to one’s own project (nothing wrong with that in many cases, though).

Burcin Cem-Arabacioglu on Sustainability

It is truly scary to think about the small time frame it takes us to drive the earth’s resources near exhaustion with that kind of lifestyle we call “normal”. In my eyes, it is nowhere near normal. Hearing about Istanbul, the city Cem is living in together with around 50 Million other people was quite interesting. It made me think, “that can’t be sustainable”. Cem however stated that surprisingly, urban systems can be more sustainable than rural life due to more efficient transport, proximity, fostering of social interactions etc. This is where interior design plays an important role. The quotes from well-known authors he recited really struck home with me.

Florian Doppel-Prix – Art or Trash?

First of all, I enjoyed the short piece of Cat Content in the beginning 😊 I did like the setting where Florian Doppel-Prix held his talk. The passing planes or trains were a bit distracting, though. Florian talked about the numerous media installations and exhibitions he co-created throughout his career and the experiences along the way. The excursions into the technical aspects of installations were interesting, but I mostly enjoyed some of his statements like “It was chaos, but it was fun” or “The more professional people get, the less you have to be afraid of them (event their students)” and certainly my favourite, “It’s real mess”. And this one was equally important, but more serious to me: “Technology is not going to save you, what’s important is the content”.

Sylwia Ulicka – Questioning Material Culture

Sylwia Ulicka brought my attention to the ambiguity of design – on one hand, design is associated with growth (in a sense of our consumerist lifestyle), but design can and also should be used to improve current circumstances regarding sustainability, social justice etc. Sylwia also talked about various design approaches. “The consideration of ethical values is reflected in the form of the object; and the enabling, challenging and searching for meaning are crucial.”

What made me think as well is the enourmos amount of mobile phone usage in Mexico that Sylwia mentioned; and a project that revolves around the resulting missing human interaction. Hugging a specially designed pillow named “hugo” while using your phone, Sylwia called “fixing the problem without really questioning the cause of it.”

Wolfgang Schlag – Radio

Wolfgang Schlag introduced us to a brief history of radio technology, which was pretty interesting to listen to since I remember picking up these things somewhere, but tend to forget over time. I liked the focus on Austria and its broadcasting past. Also, him talking about his career was nice, it’s always interesting to hear a whole life of experiences etc. His point that radio will survive easier than TV might at first seem far-fetched, but after hearing his arguments and little anecdotes I can see where he is coming from. I tend to stay away from mainstream/pop music broadcasting stations (except for fm4) since they don’t really serve my tastes concerning music, but it’s very true that radio can also be a medium of political matter (except when used as means of manipulation or to spread fake news).

Ursula Tischner on Sustainability

Although Ursula Tischner’s talk about crowd based systemic design was quite long and featured lots of information, it was very well structured and interesting to listen for me. There were parallels to some of the other lectures we had to watch. Especially how much of a wasteful society we as a collective are. Remarkably, Ursula mentioned Canada as an example of being not as much affected of climate change as other countries, yet it is one of the biggest driver in using up the resources we have way too fast. What was shocking to me was the fact that from all the things we as designers create, approximately only 1% would be still in usage after one year. One year. That seems to be virtually nothing to me. And what’s already known for years it that although people that live in wealth (or at least middle class) still aren’t as happy as they are told to be. What stuck with me was this quote by Annie Leonard “We are trashing the planet, trashing the people, and aren’t even having fun”. But how can these numerous issues actually be tackled?

A possible solution could be crowd based – to work together, internationally on projects that would improve social climate, lessen poverty or help with the inevitable climate change we are causing. Ursula pledges for the power of community. In the networking platform she is hosting, people can get together and research on issues, develop possible solutions together, share them with other people in this network. This system is open access-based, working with creative commons, but feature also the possibility of working in an closed-off space if a company participating chooses a money-earning path. I was reminded of several classes we had at FH – from game design to sustainable design to gamification apps. In these settings we had to form groups, do research on the status quo, problems, existing solutions and our general aim for that certain project. Also, what I want to take on with me is Ursula’s reminder that in the fight for sustainability fun should be included as well.

Klanglicht Symposium

I feel like the lecture by innocad and Studio 13&9 did not teach me a lot per se, but it showed me plenty of impressive and inspiring projects. The intertwining of sound and light installations was very well executed. Looking at some of the projects, matters of sustainability are in question in my opinion, but they do certainly serve a purpose, nevertheless. I would really like to experience those installations myself.