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Design and Activism + the Sticky Details of London


Photos taken during a recent trip to London capturing a range of anti-lockdown/facemask activism stickers which are spread throughout the city.


Clarification: I personally do not agree with all of these statements and the photos are used purely for research purposes - as in not to spread any conspiracy theories or idealogies which are connected to the statements featured on these stickers.

Design and Activism

Since we have already come across the topic of ‘activism’, we should also explore how it relates to the design discipline.

The main goal of activism is to bring about social and/or political change. In the Design world there are two centres of discourse, which have similar allignment - ‘Social Design’ and ‘Design Activism’.


Fig 1. Language


The language used in both (Social Design and Design Activism) reveals the common characteristics. However, if we observe their framing in more detail we can see the substantial differences.


Fig 2. Differences


For Social Design the overall aim is to reach a consensus (agreement). “Dissensus tends to occur in dialogue, not in the actions or materialisations of design(-ing), which must comply with accepted institutional cultural practises and language. Social design is, perhaps, therefore limited to expressions of ‘weak agonism’ because it needs agreement to effectuate change.” (Fuad-Luke, 2013)

Fig 3. Agreement vs Antagonism


Design Activism on the other hand does not have to be so compliant. It has a history of applying practises designed to provoke (antagonise), and to open a space for discourse, which can sometimes lead to a consensus (even though agreement is not the main objective). Additionally, “these practises not only involve an understanding of the problématique and the ideation of concepts, but the insertion of ‘one-off’ materialised designs or practises into different socio-spatial environments. Design activists can adopt the position of ‘non-aligned social broker’ to undertake maverick, solo or collective interventions.” (Fuad-Luke, 2013)


List of illustrations

Figure 1. Glyn-Davies, A.(2020) Language [Presentation Slide] In possession of the author.


Figure 2. Glyn-Davies, A.(2020) Differences [Presentation Slide] In possession of the author.


Figure 3. Glyn-Davies, A.(2020) Agreement vs Antagonism [Presentation Slide] In possession of the author.


Bibliography


Design activism ’s teleological freedoms as a means to transform our habitus (s.d.) At: http://agentsofalternatives.com/?p=2539 (Accessed 29/04/2021).


Fuad-Luke, A. (2013) 'Design Activism: A Beautiful Strangeness for a Sustainable World' pp.1–245. At: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/289334264_Design_Activism_A_Beautiful_Strangeness_for_a_Sustainable_World (Accessed 29/04/2021).


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