An exhibition curated and edited by Sophie Lovell. With works by: Auger-Loizeau, Pieke Bergmans, Dunne & Raby, El Ultimo Grito, Martí Guixé, Stuart Haygarth, Kueng Caputo, Mathieu Lehanneur, Studio Makkink & Bey and Jerszy Seymour.
Right now design is on a critical path involving a radical shift in the understanding of its role in the development and expression of our society.
As humanity expands to fill all available space; as we invade, occupy and infiltrate every nook and cranny of the natural world and beyond; as technosphere merges with biosphere, the role of the designer is pushed into an increasingly pivotal position. Our environment is not self-sustaining, every detail needs to be designed – constantly. The designer, like the rest of us, is part of an enormously complex system that we ourselves have created. The designer is necessarily immersed in the social, intellectual, technological and political context of our constructed world. Thus the responsibility of designers is one of engagement since they are key agents in the process of its creation and maintenance.
But the system is flawed. It does not function properly: It is unbalanced, wasteful and unfit for survival. To engage within the system is to perpetuate the system. We need thinkers and designers to explore strategies that can generate change and to do that they need to disengage with the system. We need diversification through mutation. We need conceptual thinkers, lateral thinkers, revolutionaries, explorers, inventors, anarchists, activists, cross-disciplinarians and non-linear agenda-benders.
Who will give us what we want? Who will be the map-makers in our complex garden of forking paths? Who will make it possible for us to have and have not? Who will question our right to consume? Who will sweeten the pill and who are the ones that will feed us bitter medicine?
In order to think outside of the box you need to distance yourself from it. Traditionally those who disengage in this way are outsiders ‘freaks’ and traditionally they are suppressed or rejected since they tend to threaten the status quo. But now the status quo is threatening us and we are learning to value and to celebrate ‘difference’.
Freak Show: Strategies for (Dis)engagement in Design is an exhibition of objects by designers that think differently. In the realm of industrial design, a range of strategies is emerging from designers who have begun to challenge the system. They are the ‘freaks’ who are showing us that design is no longer what we thought it was. They are turning accepted norms on their heads and confronting our preconceptions about design. Their work is about rising to the responsibility of engagement through disengagement and as a result they are giving us an insight into what the world could be like if we can find the courage to accept change.
A limited edition catalogue designed by Christiane Bördner accompanies the exhibition.