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Parsons The New School for Design

Friday, December 17, 2010 from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM (EST)

New York, NY


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General Admission Ended Free  


Event Details

The Critical Gift of Design is a transdisciplinary exploration of design’s history and future, its criticality and radicalism, and its limits and extents as a communicative medium and as an agent of sociocultural change. In a season marked by gift-giving, the conference will critically examine what design and designers have "given" to the world, in action and in theory, and what more they might give as the concept of design evolves and expands.

The program opens with a keynote lecture on the evening of Thursday, December 16, with a full day of remarks, addresses, and workshops on Friday, December 17. (Please note that registration on this page is for the Friday only.)

This conference is organized by Parsons The New School for Design in collaboration with the Köln International School of Design. Program topics, times, and participants are subject to change—please check back for updates. Due to the limited seating available for this event, advance registration is required for attendance.

A corresponding exhibition will be on view December 16–19 in the Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, 66 Fifth Avenue, NYC. The opening reception for the exhibition will take place on December 16 at 5:00 pm.

Keynote Lecture—Thursday, December 16
Kellen Auditorium, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, 66 Fifth Avenue, NYC
6:30 pm

Beauty and the Design of Aliveness

Elaine Scarry, the Cabot Professor of Aesthetics at Harvard University, will address the "making" of the world, as discussed in her seminal book The Body in Pain.

Please RSVP separately to for this portion of the conference. Seating for the lecture will be on a first come, first served basis.

Conference Program—Friday, December 17

9:00 am Registration and Breakfast
9:15 am Welcome
Tim Marshall, Provost and Chief Academic Officer, The New School
9:30 am Introduction: Designing the Critical Gift of Design
Ruedi Baur, designer and professor at École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs
10:00 am Breakout Sessions
Each workshop will open with briefing statements by its group leaders and then proceed with group discussion. Please select a workshop when registering.

* The History and the Future of the Radical Gift of Design
Critical Design Discourse, Practice, and History and Their Influence on the Future of Design

Does design history offer any examples, structural analyses or inspiration, which could be useful for a future understanding and practice of design?
Led by Paola Antonelli, Jamer Hunt, Günther Zamp Kelp, Wolfgang Laubersheimer, Marco Piva, Susan Yelavich

* The Critical Gift of Communication
The Limits and Extents of Design as Communication

In an age of rapidly proliferating communication technology, the media shape—and are shaped by—design. In the face of new communications challenges for design, we urgently need a discourse to understand the effects these new phenomena will have on society and design.
Led by Ted Byfield, Michael Gais, Philipp Heidkamp, Cynthia Lawson, Tim Parsons

* The Gifted Theory of Design
Designing as Giving: Excess and Exchange

Throughout the last few years, we have observed the development of a distinct design theory. How can we formulate this as a transdisciplinary theory and how could this theory become an innovative and maybe even radical perspective for and partner of design practice?
Led by Ruedi Baur, Clive Dilnot, Michael Erlhoff, Pascale Gatzen, Gesche Joost

* The Social Construction of the Gift of Design
Gender, Pluralism, and Design Futures

Design plays a crucial role in reinforcing, but also allowing changes to, sociocultural constructions of identity. This group will explore the extents and limits of design agency when it comes to the differentiation of society.
Led by Uta Brandes, Vicky Hattam, Regula Stämpfli, Cameron Tonkinwise
12:30 pm Lunch
(Working lunch; group discussions continue)
2:15 pm Coffee Break
2:30 pm Presentations
Each group will present its debates and perspectives for approximately 15 minutes, followed by 20 minutes of discussion (per group) with the general audience.
Moderated by Michael Erlhoff, Professor of Design Theory and History, Köln International School of Design
5:30 pm Closing Remarks
Joel Towers, Dean, Parsons The New School for Design
6:00 pm Reception

Have questions about THE CRITICAL GIFT OF DESIGN? Contact Parsons The New School for Design

When & Where

Kellen Auditorium
Sheila C. Johnson Design Center

66 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10011

Friday, December 17, 2010 from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM (EST)

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Parsons The New School for Design

A pioneer in art and design education since its founding in 1896, Parsons has cultivated outstanding artists, designers, scholars, businesspeople, and community leaders for more than a century. Today, when design thinking is increasingly being employed to solve complex global problems, Parsons is leading new approaches to art and design education.

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