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Pursuing Design as a Catalytic Social Force

Design has the potential to catalyze and to enable new ways of thinking and doing. Design Society, as a major design institution in China, believes in a shared urgency to trigger and to amplify design knowledge as well as tools to empower more people and to activate the society.

The panel event will be dedicated to exploring how to pursue design as catalytic force and how to trigger and amplify design knowledge and tools to empower more people for a better society. This is a very popular topic and biennales, conferences, schools, magazines, and even whole curricula are shaped by it. But does this popularity really mean a new dawn of design performativity, or is it still more a matter of good intention and showing exceptions that prove the rule?
Design Society is inviting practitioners, from East and West, to explore how design practices enable real social innovation, from the angles of new technology, education, and the role of international institutions.

During the discussion, some questions as below will be addressed:
A. Technology is often seen as a quasi-autonomous force that may script people’s life rather than enable it. It takes over agency, rather than facilitates it. A growing group of people are expressing concern about technology (AI) taking over. Are there clues from history or from current practice that can reverse this scenario, or at least may help us to be less anxious about it? What kind of social innovation would that entail?

B. Schools are always slow responders. In principle this should not be a problem, if the core of academic knowledge is sound and solid, and also timeless enough to give any future practitioner a stable professional base. However, when successful innovation starts to be called disruptive innovation, how could school ever keep the pace with the reality it is supposed to prepare for? And what kind of social innovation would that entail?

C. Design institutions are in a process of rapid transformation worldwide. Museums reinvent themselves. (Sometimes they even dissolve). Biennales become awareness platforms. Cities everywhere have their own design weeks. What does this transformation exactly mean? Does it help to trigger the power of design, or is it more a sign of adaptation of design itself to the dynamics of current tide. And what kind of social innovation institutions are able to foster?
Moreover, in collaboration with the state enterprise China Merchants Group, Design Society is participating in the opening of a museum of design in Shenzhen, which will be inaugurated in 2017. This new creative initiative is developed also with the contribution of the V&A.

Organized by Design Society

Sponsored by China Merchants Shekou Industrial Zone Holdings Co., LTD

Moderator: Zhao Rong (Programme Director of Design Society)
Panelists: Ole Bouman (Director of Design Society); Kevin Lau (Founder of Non-sense Technology Co, Initiator of Shenzhen Maker Culture); Fu Na (Director of Research Department, Shen Zhen Center for Design); Xu Ping (Deputy Dean, School of Design, CAFA); Zishu Zhou (Founder of sweet potato community)

Sept. 29th, 10:30 – 12:30

The Global School / Marketplace / 52 Gongmenkou Dongcha

Design Society