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CfP: Hazarding Design: Risks and consequences of design

Call for Papers for the DGTF conference in Luzern 

Call for Papers, Deadline: 30 November 2023

Annual conference of the German Society for Design Theory and Research (DGTF) 26th/27th April 2024 in Lucerne/Switzerland

At least since the modern era, the design profession has been guided by a belief in its power to change society (Dorrestijn & Verbeek, 2023, p. 46). In doing so, it sees itself fundamentally as a means of bringing about positive change through applied creativity (Simon, 1996, p.111). Ideas about what counts as positive change and how to achieve it, however, have shifted over time. While designers at the beginning of the 20th century still believed in the standardized satisfaction of human needs by means of technical-social engineering, reality proved to be resistant to such planning procedures. Societal, ecological, economic and social problems hardly follow causal chains that can be broken by good design – whatever that may be. Instead, we increasingly find ourselves facing down Wicked Problems (Rittel & Webber, 1973, p. 160 ff.) that arise in highly complex systems, propagated by heterogeneous actors—both human and non-human—and characterized by asymmetrical power relations.

Design, in turn, is by no means a neutral, universally applicable tool; it’s a situated “socio-material practice” (Mareis, Paim, p. 11 f.) strongly influenced by white, male worldviews, which inscribes itself in stakeholder networks and societies (ibid., p. 11). Thus, design interventions inevitably create new constellations and thus unforeseen consequences. Design is more than a concrete answer to static problems, deeper than a quick fix. Designers produce meanings (Krippendorff, 2006), find themselves enmeshed in the negotiation processes of actor networks (Latour, 1996) and develop contributions for new ways of coexisting in the field of tension between pragmatism and utopia (Fezer, 2013).

These considerations lead to the central questions of the 2024 DGTF conference: What effects does design actually have? How does design achieve an impact and how do we deal with the consequences of design?

We invite you to discuss these questions at the 21st Annual Conference of the German Society for Design Theory and Research (DGTF) at the University of Applied Science Lucerne, Switzerland and look forward to your thoughts and projects on the following topics:

Impact measurement: How does design work? What established forms of impact measurement exist, which schools of thought and understandings do they stem from?

Achievement of objectives: Who determines when design is successful? How and by whom are goals and ideas of success negotiated, and what role do competition and benchmarking play in this process?

Design impact assessment: What are desired impacts of design and where do the unforeseen consequences begin?

Stakeholder engagement: Who and what does design affect? Do the actual stakeholders of the design play a role in the development of targets, evaluation methods and evaluation itself? How does this role change in networks with a wide range of stakeholders and species?

Error culture: What does a positive error culture mean in design as a profession driven by perfectionism and success? How do we move away from the dualism of error vs. success toward an understanding of open learning processes and what role do agility and culture play? How are failures evaluated, addressed and communicated?

Communication of impact: How can we communicate and present the impact of design so that it is (finally) understood as more than a cosmetic profession?

We invite researchers and practitioners from all disciplines and sectors to submit papers to the 2024 DGTF Annual Conference. As DGTF, we are concerned with research that addresses, critiques, describes and applies design in its broadest sense, and we particularly value interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches. This includes empirical, theoretical, conceptual and exploratory research contributions as well as project contributions or applications from practice. We are accepting contributions in German or English.

The conference team aims to facilitate a lively conference that provides ample space for professional exchange and community building while showcasing the academic quality of design research. We provide five different formats in which contributions can be submitted. All submissions go through a double-blind review process.

Following the conference, an open-access publication will be released (ISBN). All full papers can be revised up to a maximum of six weeks after the conference. Authors of all other conference formats are invited to prepare their contribution as a full paper for publication up to a maximum of six weeks after the conference. We reserve the right of refusal.

The style sheets will be uploaded in a timely manner.

Cfp: Call for Papers, Deadline: 30 November 2023