During Dutch Design Week 2022 three early evening pop-up salons connect a research on human footprints by designer Ineke Hans and DEA alumni Ned Kaar, with curator Annemartine van Kesteren’s online expo 'The Decay Economy' for Museum Boijmans van Beuningen.25 October 2022, Microlab Skybar
Today, with the world on the edge of environmental collapse due to the implications of man-made systems, projects it seems are not enough, particularly when they provide simple answer.
Understanding systems, mapping them, and suggesting alternatives to established norms are just some of the ways in which designers address ideas of systemic change, while transitions expand beyond a single project. These are radical movements from one system to another, between a present and a future, and in which all stakeholders are affected.
At the scale of transitions, simplicity can be brutal.
System wide transitions, away from oil or toward new food futures (two examples from the wide range of 21st century problems), involve careful management to act with influence amidst the power struggle of stakeholders within what are now connected systems.
The complexity of any system could be defined by the breadth of its influence - in real terms, the number of people, the monetary costs, and the environmental impacts that are tied up in it.
Designers have been operating speculatively with transitions and systemic change through projects, proposing alternatives to systems of production and ways of inhabiting the world, yet there are several roadblocks that prevent these designs becoming applied to daily life at scale and bridge the gap between design and transition. Issues of policy, ownership, and mindset are faced by both design and transitions.
Design serves a prescient role in addressing the third of these. It is a means of communication, of meaning making, and serves to establish alternatives within transition management.
Ultimately however, to act radically and redesign the systems we are living in, designers would need to find a wider reach for questioning, more involvement of stakeholders, and greater engagement outside of their own field.
Designers after all, are not the problem, and addressing systemic issues must happen in situ.
A full report might come online later