18. – 25 Nov. 2018: Lecture and workshop at Hubei Technical University, Wuhan

In September 2012, the first Istanbul Design Biennial openend. Under the label »Adhocracy«, it brought together new methods of production. The show featured, for instance, a ceramic 3D-printer developed by Belgian design duo Claire Warnier and Dries Verbruggen. They were showing a process of printing and design where singular shapes were developed using generative design. Besides the very particular formal aesthetic of the printed products in the exhibition, the show also used the idea of participatory production and design. A significant group of individuals came together to produce things beyond serial production using strategies of participation and sampling as described by Felix Stalder in »Kultur der Digitalität«. Everyone could be a designer. It is clear that projects that are based on a visualization of the technical, process-like principles as well as making visible their connections to other, similar projects are more open, connected, discursive and then more progressive. In a 1985 lecture philosopher Albrecht wellmer distinguished two forms of design since postmodernism. This distinction is quite relevant for my understanding the postdigital materiality as a result of a structural change in design. First, a progressive design that makes the constructions visible, and secondly, a regressive design that remains on the level of mere styling. When the constructions are visible, they also become accessible for participation, and thus for a democratic practice that modernity had envisioned. When not only quoting past styles, they can potentially enter an infinite process of (re) construction and technical innovation. Although the projects shown in the exhibition are all different in terms of topics and applications, the principle of making the construction visible is inherent in all of them. In this respect, the whole concept of the exhibition was a recourse on topics of participation and openness from postmodernism. This seems to lead us to interaction.
Although, at first glance, these strategies of postdigitality seem to form an antithesis to classical industrial design, the maker-movement is not so different from »official« processes of industrial at German electronics company Braun usually known for its minimalist style and functionalism, for instance. Strategies of postdigital design were used to develop unseen shapes of high geometric complexity, sampling and postmodern design has influenced the design language of Braun. Making, bricolage and participation are part of the Braun-process. In my intuition, the discourse around postdigitality in design would benefit form a third term besides digital and analogue, namely the interface. The concept of the interface could help to frame the complexity and multi-layeredness of contemporary design processes. It is not to be understood as the surface of the screen, of course, but as a more general concept of interaction with artifacts, tools and methods of communication.

In my contribution to the conference, I presented material I have been collecting in the Braun Archive and in the Open Design scene since 2015. The material forms the base of my current project on postdigital design and materiality.