Today, many people are experiencing the uneven impacts of climate change, pandemics, wars, market crashes, biodiversity loss, and supply chain disruptions on a global scale. That a shared planetary future is, at best, uncertain is widely accepted. Governments, corporations, consultancies, and design firms are trying to tackle this uncertainty by envisioning various future scenarios and ways to get there. They are developing policies, strategies, and cutting-edge technologies to anticipate and prepare for potential future challenges while minimizing damage and maximizing profits. In response, a growing number of activists and intellectuals invest hope in design to foster political alternatives grounded in radically different ways of being and speculating on futures.

The conference Planetary Design: Reclaiming Futures brings together critical thinking and doing around the role of design in making, unmaking and remaking worlds. Starting from the intersection of design, infrastructure, and the planetary environment, it offers a generative platform open to artists, academics, and activists for rethinking design’s role in producing the present and for developing alternative planetary futures. Reflecting on how design makes worlds in the 21st century requires an interdisciplinary effort that addresses it as an intersectional, multi-faceted phenomenon. Design becomes not only an object of empirical study but also a conceptual lens that might open up new ways of articulating transdisciplinary critique.

A central goal of this conference is thus to open up a novel field: the planetary study of design. This aspiration motivates studying design as an expansive field of socio-material processes and place-based practices with planetary implications. The conference aims to delineate this field by focusing on how epistemological and ontological aspects of design inform our understandings of planetary change, environmental management, coloniality, governmentality, and the climate crisis but also democratic reconstruction. The insistence on ‘planetarity’ comes from a recognition that these are world-historical conditions, without overlooking the locally situated, contested, and contingent nature of their manifestations. Planetarity evokes the concepts of synchronicity, discontinuity, and friction.

Supporting historically, conceptually, and ethnographically rich inquiries, the conference hopes to develop a new conversation about design that spans diverse disciplines, geographies, and methodological orientations that straddle the poetic and the pragmatic, the critical and the constructive. Thus, this gathering is at once looking ahead while also reckoning with inherited and continuing injustices that still haunt collective planetary futures.

In English
Organized by

Governing Through Design project team (Claudia Mareis, Kenny Cupers, Orit Halpern, Laura Nkula-Wenz, Özgün Eylül İşcen, Nadia Christidi, Sudipto Basu, Anke Gründel, Tania Messell), in cooperation with the ICI Berlin

The conference marks the culmination of Governing Through Design, a collaborative research project supported by a Sinergia Grant of the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Partners: Humboldt Universität Berlin zu Berlin, Technische Universität Dresden, Universität Basel, Concordia University, Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz (FHNW)

External Venue

The public programme will continue
on 26 October 2024 at

Spore Initiative
Hermannstraße 86
12051 Berlin-Neukölln

The audience is presumed to consent to a possible recording on the part of the ICI Berlin.
If you would like to attend the event yet might require assistance, please contact Event Management.