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DESIGN ACT is a cultural program highlighting and discussing contemporary design practices that engage with political and societal issues. Practitioners question issues of gender and class, ownership and authorship, power and welfare, for example, in genres of conceptual, social and activist design. As practitioners engage both practically and ideologically in such issues, the project has explored design as a ‘critical practice’. Topics in and around criticality are present in architectural design, and this project was set up to build a network and a discourse including product, fashion, interactive, graphic, service and experience design. Motivating and structuring the project have been the questions: WHAT are examples of these movements? WHERE does it happen and in what contexts? HOW does it happen and what does it take?

The project is set up as a platform for dialog among practitioners and related communities. This is aligned with the mission of Iaspis to build networks among practitioners. DESIGN ACT has operated through an international network of contributors, an online archive of project examples and a series of public events. The network, archive and events were set up to grow in number and coverage over time. Concluding the project, a book elaborates on the views, tactics and contexts that emerged in the course of the project. The book gives a material form to further dialogs among practitioners and an expanded range of educators, historians and curators, as well as further extending the geographic reach and audience.

Images (above)
Photos (1) from Seminar 1 and (2) (3) from Seminar 2

My role
Together with Magnus Ericson, I have jointly initiated and managed DESIGN ACT, including its focus and scope, methods of operation, network of experts, online archive, public events and interviews, and the book. With a particular focus on content development, I have contributed with concepts, examples and analysis drawn from my previous and ongoing research. I have moderated most of the public events. My participation in DESIGN ACT has been in part as a consultant and in part as a contribution through the Interactive Institute’s Forms of Sustainability project.

DESIGN ACT was initiated and produced since 2008 by laspis (the Swedish Arts Grants Committee’s International Programme for Visual Arts) in collaboration with the Interactive Institute. Project managers: Magnus Ericson and Ramia Mazé; Project coordinator: Sara Teleman; Research assistant: Natasha Marie Llorens; Graphic and website design: Friendly Matters with Johanna Lewengard and Fredrik Sterner, and programming by Jens Almström. The DESIGN ACT book was co-published by Sternberg Press in 2011. Editors: Magnus Ericson and Ramia Mazé; Editorial board: Magnus Ericson, Ramia Mazé and Cecilia Widenheim; Project coordinator: Sara Teleman; Graphic design: Johanna Lewengard.

More about the project

More about the public events

Book launch at ExperimentaDesign'11, with Meike Schalk, Magnus Ericson, and Lisa Rosendahl, moderated by Annika Enqvist, Lisbon, Portugal, Sept 2011.

Seminar 4: 'Platforms', with Claire Catterall, Régine Debatty, Ramia Mazé, and Magnus Ericson, moderated by Staffan Lundgren, Stockholm, June 2010.

Lectures and Dialogue: 'Design Pre/Occupations', with Peter Lang and Fiona Raby, Stockholm, June 2010.

Seminar 3: 'Design at Stake', with Ben Singleton, Thérèse Kristiansson and Annika Enqvist / New Beauty Council, Martin Avila, and Sara Backlund, moderated by Ramia Mazé, Stockholm, Oct 2009.

Seminar 2 at ExperimentaDesign'09, with Ana Betancour, Otto von Busch, Tor Lindstrand, Helena Mattsson, Emily Campbell, and Joseph Grima, moderated by Ramia Mazé and Magnus Ericson. Including a public installation of the project and live interviews, Lisbon, Portugal, Sept 2009.

Lecture: Liza Fior / muf, moderated by Ramia Mazé, organized with Marabouparken, Stockholm, Jun 2009.

Lectures: 'Public Life', with Erik Sandelin and Magnus Torstensson / Unsworn Industries, Jonathan Harris, and Dånk, moderated by Ramia Mazé, organized as part of the New Media Meeting, Norrköping, Sweden, May 2009.

Seminar 1: 'Design in Service', with Camilla Andersson, Yanki Lee, and Erlend Blakstad Haffner, moderated by Ana Betancour, May 2009.

See also

/ Projects / Forms of Sustainability

/ Publications / Plöjel, M., Mazé, R., Olausson, L., Redström, J., and Zetterlund, C. (eds) (2013) Share This Book.

/ Publications / Ericson, M., and Mazé, R. (eds) (2010) DESIGN ACT.

/ Publications / Mazé (2009) 'Critical of What?', in M. Ericson, et al. (eds) The Reader.