On March 5-7, The School of Design hosted a two-day event that included presentations and reviews of its doctoral students, followed by a day-long Transition Design Symposium. Transition design is an important new area of design research, practice and study that is being developed at the School of Design. It explores how to make everyday life more sustainable, but also more convivial and connected to the natural world.
Transition Design seeks to develop lifestyles that are at once place-based and cosmopolitan, and infrastructures that are integrated into their ecosystems; it focuses on long horizons of time, rather than quick fixes; and it believes that new technologies have an important role to play in the ‘transition’. Transition design informs projects, curricula and programs, and is a particular focus for doctoral students.
The symposium brought together faculty, doctoral students and doctoral alumni as well as a number of academics and educators from a range of disciplines from other institutions. These included anthropologist Arturo Escobar (University of North Carolina), designer Ezio Manzini (Milan Polytechnic), sociologist Damian White (Head of the department of History, Philosophy & Social Science, Rhode Island School of Design), Dennis Doordan (Associate Dean of Research, School of Architecture, University of Notre Dame,) design educators Lara Penin and Eduardo Staszowski (Parsons New School), and Anne-Marie Willis, editor of Design Philosophy Papers Journal (German University, Cairo), among others.
The symposium was structured around the ‘position papers’ that had been submitted by participants. These papers responded to questions posed in a ‘Provocation and Briefing’ document produced at the School of Design. Their topics were wide ranging and grouped into several themes which formed the skeleton of the day’s discussions: Futures; Social Design and Service Design; Types of Change; Personal Change/Transition and Education. It is hoped that these papers will be published in various formats in the coming months.
The School sees the event as a way of broadening and deepening the discussion about what transition design is, or what it could be, and hopes that this conversation will be taken up and furthered in other institutions.