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Azimuts #57 – Dé-designer

 - Azimuts #57
The "deconstruction" of design, between practice and reflection.
It is increasingly said that we are reaching "the end of a system". Some even speak of collapse. Many of us are questioning our relationship with the world of work. In an article entitled "Un refus de professionnalisation" (A refusal of professionalisation) published in spring 2023 in the review Multitudes, Camille Anonymus weighs the pros and cons of what she wants and does not want in her professional and personal life, and focuses her interest on studies and learning: an acquisition of skills and know-hows that are no longer channelled in one specific professional activity, but defined by action. She hasn't started studying medicine to become a doctor, but to care for people. Her reflections resonate with the speech given by the AgroParisTech students during their awards ceremony. They had decided to speak out, abandon the profession of agronomy engineers, and sought to plough the knowledge acquired during their training back into other activities, more in line with contemporary issues. Issue 57 of Azimuts arrives in a context where many students and young designers are questioning or even deserting their profession. We know that our professional activity is assimilated to a "passionate profession", which would justify free work, while concealing a precarious situation. We are also aware that exercising this profession contributes to a more globalised social, environmental, and economic crisis. Despite the ideology of the "saviour" designer, the designer as an individual becomes a vector of exclusion, oppression, alienation, consumerism, pollution, greenwashing…
Since the Industrial Revolution, designers and philosophers have thought about, dissected and attempted to define design. As philosopher and design researcher Stéphane Vial puts it, "the indefinition of design is not a postmodern inevitability, but an epistemological symptom." Therefore, if defining the contours of design is so difficult, untangling it as a knot would prove to be a feat. Vilém Flusser thus speaks of "de-signing" in his book Petite philosophie du design: "Etymologically, design means 'de-sign'", to strip something from its "sign". Italian designer Alessandro Mendini addresses the possibility of "unprojecting". More recently, Australian thinker and designer Tony Fry considers design as a discipline of "futuration", designating the designer's ability to produce a inhabitable, sustainable future. In response to this, he suggests imagining its opposite, defuturation, to protect us from a stillborn, obsolete future.
With these attempts at deconstruction, we understand that from the same knot, the designer's profession, each person defines their own threads to pull, in an attempt to loosen this intertwining system. However, everyone agrees on one point: what is at stake is to de-design the profession, not the practice.
What does de-design infer? Undo, unravel, dismantle, unravel, unpack, clear, unlock, uninstall, desert, unproject, defuture, demystify, unbewitch…
To understand how an object was made, the best approach is to take it apart piece by piece, a process that makes it possible to identify its components and understand how it was assembled. In other situations, the process must be reversed. We need to understand before we can dismantle/undo. For example, to untie a knot, you must first understand what loops and intersections hold it in place. You have to study it and try to determine in which direction each loop should be pulled in order to loosen it and be able to detach it.
The profession of designer could be defined as a clove hitch, a tensioning knot produced by external elements that keep it tight. In this sense, untying the knot would amount to identifying the elements (yield, profitability, competitiveness, etc.) that put the profession under tension and alienate designers, and acting upon them.
The term "deconstruction" (of thought, of institutions, of social relationships) is a philosophical concept that is often borrowed in social science, to try and decenter the standpoints often imposed as absolute truths by a dominant group. For example, the word can be found in decolonial thought or in feminist struggles. But before being a philosophical concept, it is above all a term linked to doing, to a gesture, an action.
In this issue, the contributors each offer us their own way of de-designing by going back and forth between practice and reflection.
Azimuts is a design research journal founded in 1991 by the student-researchers of the post-graduate program of the École supérieure d'art et design de Saint-Étienne. A unique publication in the design editorial landscape, the journal is a place for reflection, exchange, and criticism on the issues of contemporary design and art, as well as a field for experimentation and graphic and typographic research.
Azimuts magazine gathers the points of view of personalities from the world of design, culture and research in general. The issues are organized around thematic dossiers on design and, more generally, on material culture or its criticism. The "Varia" section welcomes contributions that are not part of the dossier, and the "Anthology" section allows readers to discover or rediscover texts and documents that are difficult to access (out of print or never translated into French). The "Reviews" section is a space for free criticism of current research and publications on design in the field.
Contributions by Daria Ayvazova, Emmanuelle Becquemin, Arthur Benyaya Cazorla, Alex Delbos-Gomez, Fanny Maurel, Jovien Panné, Lola Pelinq, Gwénaëlle Plédran, Lucie Sahuquet, ZERMA.
published in April 2024
bilingual edition (English / French)
16,5 x 22 cm (softcover)
164 pages (ill.)
ISBN : 978-2-492621-18-5
EAN : 9782492621185
in stock

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