Critical TheoryDesign ResearchDesign StrugglesOpen AccessPublicationhgk

Design Struggles

Intersecting Histories, Pedagogies, and Perspectives

Design Struggles critically assesses the ways in which the design field is involved in creating, perpetuating, promoting and reinforcing injustice and inequality in social, political, economic, cultural and ecological systems. This book shows how this entanglement arose from Eurocentric and neoliberal thinking. The voices and practices represented here propose to question and disrupt the discipline of design from within, by problematizing the very notions of design. They aim to do so by generating new, anti-racist, post-capitalist, queer-feminist, environmentally conscious and community-based ideas on how to transform design. In this way, Design Struggles strives to forge sustainable, new practices within the design field that challenge the status quo and amplify underrepresented voices, both in the world of design, as well as beyond.

In order to reimagine design as an unbound, ambiguous, and unfinished practice, this publication gathers a diverse array of perspectives, ranging from social and cultural theory, design history, design activism, sociology, anthropology, critical and political studies, with a focus on looking at design through the intersections of gender, race, ethnicity, culture, class, and beyond. The book combines the latest comprehensive insights (rooted in design practices) with engaging and accessible storytelling. In doing so, Design Struggles brings together an urgent and expansive array of voices and views, representing those engaged in struggles with, against or around the design field.

Design Struggles is the third volume in the Valiz PLURAL series. This series focuses on how the intersections between identity, power, representation and emancipation play out in the arts and in cultural practices. The volumes in this series aim to do justice to the plurality of voices, experiences and perspectives in society and in arts and design. The volumes address historical, present and future meanings of these positions and their interrelations, layering and diversity. PLURAL brings together new and critical insights from cultural and social researchers, theorists, artists, arts professionals and activists.

This Publication:

  • Puts forward new and urgent perspectives at the junction between design and the most urgent topics within critical cultural studies
  • With accessible and engaging stories about examples of intersectional, transformative approaches to design
  • An indispensable source book and sounding board for creative makers, designers, artists, architects and educators
  • PLURAL series selected by the Student Jury of the Best Dutch Book Designs 2020!


  • Claudia Mareis is a design researcher and cultural scientist with a background in design practice. She is professor for design history and theory at the FHNW Academy of Art and Design in Basel.
  • Nina Paim is a Brazilian curator, researcher, designer, and educator, based in Basel. Paim holds an MA in design research from HKB Bern. She has taught and lectured worldwide and recently was co-initiator of the Futuress platform.

Contributors: Danah Abdulla, Tanveer Ahmed, Zoy Anastassakis, Ahmed Ansari, Brave New Alps, Johannes Bruder, Cheryl Buckley, Sria Chatterjee, Alison J. Clarke, Sasha Costanza-Chock, Paola De Martin, Decolonising Design, depatriarchise design, Bianca Elzenbaumer, Arturo Escobar, Kjetil Fallan, Griselda Flesler, Corin Gisel, Matthew Kiem, Claudia Mareis, Ramia Mazé, Tania Messell, Anja Neidhardt, Nan O’Sullivan, Maya Ober, Nina Paim, Luiza Prado de O. Martins, Mia Charlene White

Design: Lotte Lara Schröder

Series: PLURAL 2021, Valiz, 
with Swiss Design Network SDN with support of the Swiss National Science Foundation 

paperback | 416 pp. | 24 x 17 cm (h x w) | English
ISBN 978-94-92095-88-6