Studio Experimentelles Design’s politically and socially committed approach through lectures, research, conversations, and project documentation.
With today’s increasing income disparity, forced global division of labor, and neoliberal expansion of precariousness, a critical discussion about work is looming–even in the field of design. Since 2011, the Studio Experimentelles Design at the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg has experimented with local design support as a contemporary practice. The student-led program advocates a community-based, cooperative approach to design. In the summer of 2020, the Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin Design Lab #6 hosted Studio Experimentelles Design’s online research festival “(How) do we (want to) work (together) (as (socially engaged) designers (students and neighbours)) (in neoliberal times)?” The studio invited friends, experts, and activists to discuss self-organizing academia, artistic collectivism, care work, and creative self-exploitation. Over three weeks, talks, performances, and readings explored alternatives to the formal economy, immaterial labor in the context of aesthetic capitalism, the issue of the art strike, alienation, and new subjectivities.
Divided into two parts, this compendium chronicles Studio Experimentelles Design’s politically and socially committed approach through lectures, research, conversations, and project documentation from the online festival and five years of studio work. Both the festival’s debate about working conditions and the studio’s practice critically examine the imperative of committed designers today to radically reorient their approach, the content of their work, and their relationship with the actors for whom they design.