Call for abstracts

The Urban Modernities research group is calling for submissions from researchers, curators, theorists as well as practicing designers and artists for an edited text, Undesign, to be published in late 2014-early 2015.

About UnDesign

Traditionally, design has been placed in a framework that emphasizes its utility over aesthetic or other non-functional considerations. UnDesign seeks to document new developments in design that connect with science, engineering, biotechnology and hactivism, which operate at the intersection of art and design. Often confounding and speculative, these practices exist outside mainstream commercial design and share many traits with contemporary art. “Undesigning” practices aim to undo the complex designed world by revealing how human designing implicitly structures our world.

“Design must put in doubt its search for all such often well-intentioned design solutions or self-deconstructions, to open the way to explore, discover, uncover, and expose the hidden dimensions of lived experience.” (Wodiczko, 1999)

UnDesign will examine the ideas, speculations and practices that constitute this burgeoning new field of practice that unravels design’s traditional definitions and assumptions in order to develop a very different concept of design practice in the 21st century. The publication aims to combine essays with the presentation of significant works of art and design. It will focus on practices that:

‣ occur at the intersection of art and design;
‣ engage with “our” contemporary real/digital “life world” in a critical manner;
‣ operate as provocative interventions within design thinking and the design environment;
‣ combine practice and research as well as text, action and object;
‣ have redirective design intentions.


UnDesign is calling for submission from researchers, curators, theorists as well as practicing designers and artists. Submissions should address the outline above and respond to the following thematic:

‣ Genealogical explorations: Speculative Futures and Alternate Pasts—directions and untold histories that situate critical art/design in a lineage of practice, explaining the conditions that have led to current Undesign practices.

‣ Deconstructive, reordering and redirective readings—expositions of the current condition of design outlining the significance of critical art/design approaches.

‣ Disruptive, strange and redirective experiences—writings as well as speculative, critical design and artistic projects.

The first part in this process is that we are inviting abstracts of 100-200 words detailing your proposed contribution. All abstracts will be reviewed and selected authors will be invited to submit full chapters. We will then seek to organize a symposium around the selected contributions. Inclusion in the final published text will be based on outcomes of an academic peer review process.

Please email abstracts by the 31st of May 2013 to editors [at]

For more information please contact the editors using address above.


“In the beginning we designed objects for production, designs to be turned into wood and steel, glass and brick or plastic – then we produced neutral and usable designs, then finally negative utopias, forewarning images of the horrors which architecture was laying in store for us with its scientific methods for the perpetuation of existing models.” (Superstudio 1973)

Superstudio 1973 Fragments From A Personal Museum at the Neue Galerie in Graz, Austria. Image: SuperStudio Flooded Venice (1970)

Image: SuperStudio Flooded Venice (1970)

[1] Krysztof Wodiczko, Critical Vehicles: Writings, Projects and Interviews, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press,1999.
[2] Superstudio, Fragments From A Personal Museum at the Neue Galerie in Graz, Austria, 1973.