Design and Disillusion: Ghosts and Bees
with Silvio Lorusso
On April 2nd, 2021, for the second day of About *Design*, PCA held a *Design* Practice talk with Silvio Lorusso, a researcher, writer, artist and designer based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
If you missed it, here is a summary.
In 2018, Silvio Lorusso published his first book entitled Entreprecariat: Everyone Is an Entrepreneur. Nobody Is Safe, which aimed at “debunking the social and political myths that push an increasing number of persons to perform in the entrepreneurship circus – with no safety nets.” He is also an assistant professor and vice-director of the Center for Other Worlds at the Lusófona University in Lisbon. His work focuses on the cultures and rhetorical regimes embedded in techno-social systems.
During his talk, Silvio shared with us his current research on the disillusion permeating the design field. Quoting his book and presenting very striking visuals and studies, he showed how disoriented designers feel nowadays, due to the evolution of the field of design. People whose job is to do design for a living seem to be feeling more and more dissatisfied with the global situation as the space for professionalization is being questioned and design is getting generalized.
Design indeed is everywhere and concerns everyone; if we follow the thinking that “everything is design” and “everyone is a designer,” then design is perceived more as a force than a field, and being a designer is perceived more as condition or a relation than a role. This tension between theory and practice reveals a historical tendency in professional design discourses to be antithetical to the ethnographic, as well as to sustainable future-making. More than design subjects, designers could be seen, like everyone else, as subjected to design.
Depending on the point of view chosen, generalizing the field could lead to the loss of its substance and consequently to a disorienting genericity, thus transforming cooking into “food design” and writing into “content design,” etc. But this generalization could also be seen as a form of escapism from the global capitalization process that pervades our society. Indeed, making design available to everyone could be, following a utopian perspective, a form of emancipatory generalism ; “everyone should design in order not to be designed.”