Dark Times In Progress

The Urgency of the Possible

 

Designing in Dark Times       Developed by a group of designers and scholars based in New York, and published by Bloomsbury, this new series investigates design’s capacity to offer critical and transformative perspectives on our contemporary condition. Designing in Dark Times pushes at the boundaries of both design and thought. Together, these books respond to current and wide ranging systemic, social, economic, political and environmental challenges. Exploring the interaction of design with social research and other related fields and presenting both modes of thought (models, concepts, arguments) and courses of action (scenarios, strategies, proposals, works) the works to be published engage polemically with the opportunities now presented to rethink what acting and designing can be.

 

Three kinds of books make up the series:  

 

Newly commissioned books       look at design as a way of acting, shaping and understanding the world. These pocket-sized polemics provide a platform for an emerging global field of practitioners and scholars from both within and without design, who are interested in wider ethical, socio-cultural and political issues, especially those bearing on the question of how we should act in the emerging world.

 

Out-of-print texts       re-presents important out-of-print texts in radical design theory, commentary and practice. 

 

Translations of works       in design theory and commentary, making important texts available to English speaking audiences.

 

 

 
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The Politics of Everyday Life. How to Implement a Design-Based Collaborative Democracy?        
Ezio Manzini

Design has always been an instrumental asset for democracies, either by designing tools to improve democratic processes like voting, government transparency and accountability or promoting inclusive principles of participatory design for people and institutions to come together to shape public policies and services. Today, at a time when attacks on democracy are happening in several countries, there may be other ways in which design can support and increase democratic practices, especially by extending the definition of democracy by considering its designing dimension: democracy as a hybrid, physical and digital space, equipped to give everybody the possibility of designing and putting ideas into practice. A society in which this idea can be realized is a collaborative, design-based democracy that both enables and is animated by a multiplicity of projects.

To be published Winter 2018

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Designing in Dark Times: An Arendtian Lexicon
Eduardo Staszowski and Virginia Tassinari (eds.)

At this moment in history, in times of fear and uncertainty marked by complex environmental, economic, social and political challenges, design practice and discourse are rapidly shifting. Designers are increasingly engaging in the public realm. They are using words and concepts like humanity, compassion, citizenship and politics. These terms are remarkably close to those used more than 50 years ago by Hannah Arendt. According to Arendt, “dark times” emerge from the loss of a public realm where people can share their views, aspirations and hope for brighter days. In this professional and philosophical transformation, critically exploring Arendtian perspectives might help designers and others to understand concepts than can shape the way we act in the world. Might they enable the renewal of public life and help us make sense of the profound issues of our times?

To be published in Fall 2019

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The Artificial Age: Designing in the Anthropocene
Clive Dilnot

In the past few decades there has been a significant historical shift to a world essentially defined by artifice and the artificial. The onset of the Anthropocene is the most dramatic symptom of this phenomenon. In these conditions, we are forced to consider the extent to which design should be understood less as subaltern moment of action, and more as a necessary mode of acting in general. But what are the characteristics of the epoch of artificial that forces this transformation? And what are the advantages, the limits, and the possibilities of understanding acting in general through the model or lens of design? In particular, is the model of “action as design” capable of engaging with the destructive tensions bequeathed to us by the industrial economy, now reinforced by neo-liberalism?

To be published in Fall 2019

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designing designing
J. Christopher Jones

Initially published in 1984, the book contains a crucial selection of Jones’ essays written in the decade after he published Design Methods (1970). In these essays, exploratory both in their content and in the extraordinary range of the modes of writing that Jones deploys to try to give expression to his thinking, he offers both a critical counter position to his own, better known, Design Methods and, in effect, of theory of what designing and its thinking requires to be adequate to the depth of industrial life. While the force of these texts has always been evident, they bear an increased relevance in today’s context, especially in their evocation of “designing designing for the whole of life.” Jones is one of the great provocateurs of design thinking; his work grounded in an acute understanding of the design process and its possibilities.

To be published in Fall 2019

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Defuturing: an Introduction to a New Design Philosophy
Tony Fry

This book was issued in a small print run by the University of New South Wales Press in 1999. It remains almost unknown by many contemporary readers of Fry’s works. The core of the book is a series of historical essays that Fry delivered as lectures at the University of Technology, Sydney. Looking at the interaction of design, technology, politics and the economy across the 20th century, Fry’s insightful studies explore connections and themes which are almost completely absent not only from standard design histories but also from thinking around sustainability (which has tended until recently to all but eschew history). Demonstrating the potential of histories of environmental and political de-futuring for the understanding of how we arrived in the crises of the present the book re-animates the possibility of the critical history of designing offering unique perspectives on the crises of our historical situation.

To be published in Fall 2019

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Wild Things: the Material Cultures of Everyday Life
Judy Attfield

This pioneering book (2000) was one of the first and best to bridge design theory and anthropology, and in so doing to offer a new and challenging way of understanding the changing meanings of contemporary human-object relations. Shortlisted for the Design History Society Scholarship Prize 2001-2002, the book shows what the life of everyday objects reveals about people and their material worlds. In Attfield’s exploration, the act of consumption is only the starting point in how objects live within our worlds. They are transformed and invested with new meanings that reflect and assert who we are. Exploring the notion of “things with attitude” she differentiates highly visible fashionable objects from taken-for-granted “ordinary” artefacts and revalues the role and resonance of both. By tracing connections between “objects and authenticity, ephemerality and self-identity” she uses the “ordinary” to stage a deeper explorations of the potential interaction, on both sides, of design and anthropology.

To be published in Fall 2019

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Design Noir
Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby

This famous but now out-of-print text (2001) introduces Dunne & Raby’s way of thinking about objects, electronics, the digital domain and behavior. The book elaborates upon one of Dunne and Raby’s most interesting early projects on critical (electronic) design: Placebo. Their experiment embedded electronic devices within working prototypes of “furniture” and explored how a variety of users lived, and formed relationships with, these objects. Investigating the real physical and cultural effects of the digital domain, and demonstrating that mobile phones, computers and other electronic objects such as televisions profoundly influence people’s experience of their environment, the book opens with a manifesto introducing the authors’ ideas about electromagnetic space and critical design. It then develops a series of conversations with the various individuals and couples who adopted and lived with the objects.

To be published in Fall 2019

Books available here.

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Designing in Dark Times       We welcome concepts for extended essays and short books that are provocative in regard to current thinking and practice in design and thought. This is not a site for purely academic studies in design. We are committed to supporting authors from a diverse range of backgrounds and career stages. We will strive for gender parity and to diversity with a global reach. 

Process       
Please send a brief proposal outlining the core concept of your project to designdarktimes@gmail.com. 

 
 
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Editorial Working Group
Otto von Busch, Clive Dilnot, Caroline Dionne, Anke Gruendel, Victoria Hattam, Andrew LeClair, Macushla Robinson, Nidhi Srinivas, Eduardo Staszowski, Rashmi Viswanathan.

 

 

Advisory Board (in formation)
Mariana Amatullo, Helena Barbosa, Constantin Boym, Erling Björgvinsson, Cheryl Buckley, Jonathan Chapman, Alison Clarke, Anthony Dunne, Michael Dutton, Priscilla Lena Farias, Lucila Fernández, Ivan Gaskell, Jamer Hunt, Wolfgang Jonas, Guy Julier, Mahmoud Keshavarz, Lucy Kimbell, Pat Kirkham, Zhang Li, Ann Light, Silvia Lindtner, Ezio Manzini, Shannon Mattern, Ligia Nobre, Lara Penin, Fiona Raby, Suresh Sethi, Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi, Virginia Tassinari, Georgia Traganou, Stuart Walker, Susan Yelavich.

 

Contact us at designdarktimes@gmail.com.