Domus Academy: Prototyping Ideas

Sunday August 20th 2017 by Peter Thomas Lang

Domus Academy presents: PROTOTYPING IDEAS – UTOPIA

The first of four design talks promoted by Domus Academy: Utopia on September 4thTrans-Local on October 30thNurture on January 15th 2018, and Waste on March 12th, 2018.

Utopia as a means to understand what are the roles and functions of Design in the 21st century. Every utopia seems to generate dystopias as by default. So how can we change the world without creating even more problems than we solve? Design is intimately related to the theme of Utopia.

During the event, Alice Rawsthorn (award-winning design critic and the author of several books on design) will intervene as moderator and along with Alexander Groves (Artist and Co-founder of Studio Swine), Peter Lang (Expert in Italian Radical Design and Architecture ) and Bruce Sterling (Futurist, Science fiction writer)  will share ideas and solutions with the public, who will be able to witness the talks about the future of Design.

During the evening, it will appear globally recognized designers like: Matteo Cibic – Matteo Cibic Studio; Licia Florio and Francio Ferrari – L’F Shoes; Francesco Franchi – Designer and Journalist of la Repubblica; Francesca Lanzavecchia – Lanzavecchia + Wai; Daniele Bortotto – Zanellato/Bortotto 

Thanks to Nhow and Illustratore Italiano

September 4th 2017
BASE Milano
Via Bergognone n. 34, 20144 Milano
From 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Sept 4.

Ideas are not Platonic forms, John Dewey said. Ideas are plans for action. They are tools we use to adapt to the environment, and to adapt the environment to us.

When we talk about design, we often give ‘form’ pride of place. We often think that ‘form’ is more important than anything else that goes in the making of a good product. But design is much more than form. Design is primarily a good idea. And if you pay attention to it, every great designer crafts ideas to design well. Dieter Rams did not frame his 10 Principles of Good Design after the fact. His way of designing, and his way of thinking, become one.

Framing ideas is very hard, but is critical to good design. This is why Domus Academy decided to explore the ways in which good ideas can be designed with a series of events called PROTOTYPING IDEAS. The goal of the series is twofold. On the one hand, it is a research avenue into a burgeoning field of design, the design of strategic ideas. On the other, it is to harness the enormous creative energy of the school to determine the next steps of its intellectual development. The Series events is open to all members of the Domus community. Its task is to turn ideas into plans for action, into tools, that is, with which to tweak the world in the right direction, one good design at a time.

Ours is an ambitious endeavor. The goal of the Series is in fact to bring leading lights in the field of design to interact with students and faculty to frame new ways of doing design in the XXI Century. The outcome is completely open, and all parties involved have a concrete chance of contributing to it, particularly our remarkable student- body. Our students come from incredibly diverse cultural backgrounds spanning most nationalities on the planet. Their contribution is especially welcome in a world struggling daily to come together as one global community. In a very concrete way, Domus Academy is itself a scaled prototype of how to give positive outcomes to that struggle. The events in the Series will be comprised of plenary lectures, informal talks, and busy worktables where concrete design ideas will be sketched and prototyped. These prototypes will then be tested in the following moths during the Workshops that Domus Academy stages with the contribution of leading companies in several design-driven industries.

The first theme will be UTOPIA. The discourse of design has a peculiar affinity with the notion that humans may come to live in a better world of their own making. And yet, every utopia seems to generate dystopias as by default. So how can we change the world without creating even more problems than we solve? Just to give one example, this question is fundamental today when many of our digital devices offer us services while retaining personal information that can be used in ways that might be turned against us. Location services are a wonderful improvement over maps, but at what cost? What happens if our location falls into the wrong hands? Can this be prevented? Are we on the right track?
To harness out of the antinomy Utopia/Dystopia sound design ideas that can be prototyped, each worktable will subject the antinomy to a grid of categories whose function is to stress where problems may emerge. These categories will also be antinomies: Natural/Artificial, Grow/Build, Tradition/Innovation, Male/Female, Individual/Community. Concrete problems will emerge along these lines that will challenge the overarching theme of Utopia in ways that will allow for the emerging of solutions designed to avoid those utopia ideas that are bound, as by necessity, to become dystopian if not carefully thought through.