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Credit: Charleen Elberskirch, Lilo Viehweg, Rasa Weber, Charlett Wenig. Design: Conrad Weise, Finn Steffens

Designers know how to deal with uncertainties and can develop holistic solutions to complex problems. It is no coincidence that the history of design is full of ideas and practices for designing sustainability – from the Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau to Victor Papanek and the Circular Design Guide. But, as the announcement for the 18th annual conference of the German Society for Design Theory and Research (DGTF) under the name Design x Sustainability states, “in view of the social upheavals in the Anthropocene, the question arises as to what design is really capable of achieving. Design faces great challenges as a discipline and as a field of research: How can we design in a way that conserves resources without perpetuating an order based on inequality? Or are design and sustainability even mutually exclusive?”

Under the title Design x Sustainability, the DGTF will address key aspects of sustainability that are related to design at its 2022 annual conference, which will take place from 1 to 3 June at the Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts in Kiel, but can also be followed via stream. What and how can design contribute to sustainable development? How does the sustainability discourse change the perception of design in theory and practice? What influence do approaches and discourses on sustainable development have on design education and research?

Whether the focus is on “materiality”, “systems” or “shared prosperity”, the conference aims to facilitate “an active exchange of practical approaches, theoretical impulses and empirical findings in lectures and workshops”. To this end, current research and study projects will be highlighted, future scenarios will be explored and sustainability in practice, research and teaching will be addressed. Stephan Ott from the “Institute for Design Research and Appliance” (IfDRA) of the German Design Council will take part in Special Talk #1 on Friday, 3 June, from 13.30 to 14.30 together with Florian Sametinger, (KISKA & kite) and Prof. Ursula Tischner (ecoconcept) on the topic of “Design criteria for awarding sustainability practice – between design practice and Sustainable Development Goals”. The annual conference of the DGTF, which is held in German and English, sees itself as a “working conference” that deliberately leaves plenty of room for exchange and inspiration.

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