Lecturing at Politecnico di Milano Tuesday morning


Too Much by Too Many? In search of a role for Design in 2010.

There is a sense of vertigo permeating contemporary culture as a whole, and design in particular. The impact of digital media on the average citizen´s ability to create, communicate and intervene has already given us the prosumer, and may evolve into even more radical scenarios in the coming years. The ongoing access to cutting-edge technology and the constant surfacing of ever-so-sophisticated creative tools often means that aesthetic and communication parameters are now taken for granted, seemingly employed by all, anytime, anywhere: so much so, that we often find ourselves wondering if design as we have known it still matters.
To add to the conundrum, design seems to be the new interest of so many professionals situated outside its area of expertise. Design now speaks of street culture and web sites, museums and iPhone apps, just as it has spoken of campaign posters, haute couture, heavy industries, exercises in retro-kitsch and typography.
The parallel rise of the “designer as thinker” has certainly reinforced the ambiguity of this scenario. Given the overabundance of “things that make things look good”, as well as the scope of said “things”, we begin considering the possibility of regarding the designer as a strategist, if not a cultural psychoanalyst.
This dissipation of a discernible territory of practice could seem like a loss at first, until we gradually came to understand that design is, after all and despite the contextual noise, a deeply human activity, and, as such, any circumscription of its potential would, in itself, be an artifice, an operational and transitory device; and that, rather than being devalued by this apparent dilution of its area of expert operation, Design suddenly has the opportunity to expand and mature as far as its context, content and purpose are concerned.
This talk will address the challenges fostered by the above contexts. From a wealth of examples emerging from social and cultural environments, we will extract a series of propositions that aim at contributing to the reevaluation of the conceptual and operative roles of design in contemporary culture.

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