Bio Design | The work of bio-designers generates uncanny visions that can confront our deepest beliefs
When the materials of design are not plastics, wood, ceramics or glass, but rather living beings or living tissues, the implications of every project reach far beyond the form/function equation and any idea of comfort, modernity or progress. Design transcends its traditional boundaries and its implications aim straight at the heart of the moral sphere, toying with our deepest-seated beliefs. The figure of the mad scientist playing God in order to create a new being that turns into a harbinger of Armageddon does not, however, apply to most bio-designers. Some work with visible organisms such as plants and animals, others with bacteria and cells, others still tinker with DNA to create new beings, but they never work alone in an ethical vacuum, preferring instead teams that also comprise physicists, mathematicians, computer scientists, engineers, chemists and bio-ethicists, and sometimes even economists and philosophers. Their work is encouraged and celebrated in a few centres of “irradiation” of these new ideas, such as the indomitable Design Interactions programme at the Royal College of Art in London, the Science Gallery at Trinity College in Dublin, and the Paris-based Le Laboratoire gallery and research centre founded in 2007 by David Edwards, a professor of Biomedical Engineering at Harvard, which has helped designer Mathieu Lehanneur propel himself in this realm. Many of them were featured in MoMA’s 2008 exhibition Design and the Elastic Mind and are now part of the museum’s collection.
Designers and scientists seek each other. Scientists, in particular, find in their collaboration with designers the breathing space away from rigorous scientific scrutiny they sometimes need. Experiments with design are often considered directional or speculative, and designers can indicate new behaviors and unexpected applications, a focus on human life that might at times elude scientists. Although I have always shied away from the bombastic declaration that designers can change the world, thanks to these collaborations they just might.
Symposium: I Don't Know Where I'm Going But I Want To Be There - The image in the age of visual obesity
The symposium signals emergent forms of the visual culture that surrounds us and inhabits us. It questions the nature of the so-called culture of attention, and looks at the way it influences and shapes the way we work, live and think today. How does our visual culture work, and what are its hidden dynamics? Which new tools and territories are emerging out of it? How do images mediate between us and the world? How do we deal with the ubiquitous presence of images and image versions? What kind of imagery is evolving from actual geopolitical shifts? Which possibilities does the age of configurability have to offer to the image? And how can visual literacy contribute to our understanding of the culture that we live in? To address these questions, the symposium brings together an expert crowd from the fields of design, art, journalism, neurobiology, fashion, literature and film. The symposium will address different functions of the image today: the image as a social agent, as a biological process, as the playground of our imagination, as a cultural criticism, and as a revolutionary power.
The Eyes Of The Skin: Architecture And The Senses by Juhani Pallasmaa
First published in 1996, The Eyes of the Skin has become a classic of architectural theory and is required reading on courses in schools of architecture around the world. It consists of two extended essays. The first surveys the historical development of the ocularcentric paradigm in western culture since the Greeks, and its impact on the experience of the world and the nature of architecture. The second examines the role of the other senses in authentic architectural experiences, and points the way towards a multi-sensory architecture which facilitates a sense of belonging and integration.” “Since the book’s first publication, interest in the role of the body and the senses has been emerging in both architectural philosophy and teaching. The revised and extended edition of this seminal work will not only inspire architects and students to design more holistic architecture, but will enrich the general reader’s perception of the world around them.
The English‐language symposium will examine past and present industrial and craft design processes and look towards tomorrow’s work landscape – a key concept for the exhibition’s curators, Rianne Makkink and Jurgen Bey of Studio Makkink & Bey. They argue that we can use industry to enhance the design of the industrial landscape and foster small‐scale, local entrepreneurship and innovation. “I imagine an industrial landscape with an attractiveness equalling that of a forest,” says Bey. “Craft was always about getting a grip on technology, and it still is today. Dedication and poetry will shape the landscapes where we’ll live and work.”
Programme and speakers
What do craft and industry have to offer each other in the 21st century? Which past ideas and modes of working and living can help us to figure this out? And what potential do new scientific and technological innovations hold for design? These are among the questions to be addressed at the symposium, planned by the designer and researcher Sophie Krier. Along with Dadi, Oosterling and Raby, speakers will include the Wageningen University researcher and materials programme coordinator Christiaan Bolck; the Icelandic software developer, writer and hacker Smári McCarthy; and the designer and Sandberg Institute director Jurgen Bey. Also participating in the discussion will be the designers Sonja Bäumel, Dries Verbruggen of Unfold, and Sarah van Gameren of Glithero, will take part in a series of discussion rounds.
The Craftsman names a basic human impulse: the desire to do a job well for its own sake. Although the word may suggest a way of life that waned with the advent of industrial society, Sennett argues that the craftsman’s realm is far broader than skilled manual labor; the computer programmer, the doctor, the parent, and the citizen need to learn the values of good craftsmanship today.
The Craftsman leads Richard Sennett across time and space, from ancient Roman brickmakers to Renaissance goldsmiths to the printing presses of Enlightenment Paris and the factories of industrial London. History has drawn fault lines dividing practice and theory, technique and expression, craftsman and artist, maker and user; modern society suffers from the historical inheritance. But the past life of craft and craftsmen also suggests ways of using tools, organizing work, and thinking about materials that remain alternative, viable proposals about how to conduct life with skill.