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What Can Design Do?

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What Can Design Do?

The Dutch conference event, What Design Can Do, is here to prove that activism and aesthetics need not be so very far apart. The event, taking place on the 16th and 17th of May in Amsterdam, was initiated by a collection of successful designers of varying disciplines who wanted to take a closer look at the design industry’s potential to induce social change, or at least create an environment in which progression is possible.

The event’s founders claim that too often design is regarded in terms of pure aesthetics, as if it exists in some kind of vacuum away from daily life. This two day event aims instead to assert design’s capacity to improve, inspire, renew and involve the world around us.

The conference opens this conversation up to all design disciplines- from architecture to product design, graphic design to fashion- and invites international speakers to rethink the role of their profession.

Speakers include Australian designer Ben Landau who will explore the place of design and designer within complex social issues, with particular focus on situations triggered by the current financial crisis such as the the closure of the Ford factory in Genk, which led to thousands of people losing their jobs.

Dutch architecture firm DUS Architects will talk about their public architecture installations which encourage social cohesion and interaction, while Indian urbanist and architect Rahul Mehrotra will discuss how to deal with rapidly growing metropolises in India and beyond.

Mexican designer Carla Fernández‘s fashion textile designs are rooted in the traditional techniques she has been fascinated with since travelling around Mexico with her father- the museum director of the National Institute of Anthropology and History. She works simultaneously with the concepts of preservations and revitalisation with her mobile fashion design laboratory, Taller Flora, aiming to show that ‘tradition need not be static, nor fashion ephemeral.’

The disciplines and perspectives may be diverse, but the ethos that runs through What Design Can Do is consistent: in order for design to reach its full potential it must be regarded in terms of every day life and show flexibility and fluidity in adjusting to the ever changing needs of the individuals and societies that it serves.

For more information visit the conference’s website HERE.

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by Annie-Rose Harrison-Dunn
Gloobbi Representative
Image above by DUS Architects
for the Karel Appel House



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