June 22, 2021

Conference: "Memory Full? Reimagining the Relations between Design and History"

Basel Academy of Art and Design

Courtesy of Design History Society, 2021.

This year’s annual conference of the Design History Society is being hosted by the FHNW Academy of Art and Design, Basel. The focus of the three-day event is on exploring the relationship between design and memory—with keynote contributions by Alexandra Midal, Jussi Parikka, Alfredo Gutiérrez Borrero, and Ahmed Ansari in conversation with the DHS students’ forum.

“Memory Full? Reimagining the Relations between Design and History” invites participants to reflect on the entanglements embodied by design between potential futures and suppressed pasts. The call is for a critical discussion on archiving, on data cultures which have long taken over our everyday lives, and on how a radically transformed world brought about by design can be apprehended through historical research. In addition, it raises the question of whether design has developed its own specific view of the discipline’s history. Against the backdrop of design’s multiple temporalities and ontologies, the conference addresses the relationship between design and memory.

In four keynote addresses, Alexandra Midal (HEAD, Genève), Jussi Parikka (Winchester School of Art an der University of Southampton), Alfredo Gutiérrez Borrero (Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano in Bogotá), and Ahmed Ansari (New York University) in conversation with the DHS students’ forum reflect on the conference’s core themes.

Complementary to these inputs, roughly 84 contributions paint a rich and multifaceted picture of the history of design, which critically questions its own canon, productively relates to a wide range of fields, and inseminates historiographic debates beyond its own history. The contributions were selected from a total of 260 proposals in a call for papers by 54 peer reviewers from 36 countries in a double-blind procedure.

The call for papers targeted advancing a praxeological, transcultural, and intersectional debate. The contributions answering the call were submitted by acclaimed international design historians, young emergent scholars from adjacent fields, as well as actors engaged in education, museum work, and critical practice. Over three days, the programme offers a total of 31 sessions. They are arranged around four perspectives: archives and materials, critique and blind spots, practices of design history, and workshops and alternative formats.

From mid-August on, a pre-conference programme with student-led events and publishing workshops will warm up the conference floor. The official conference starts on Thursday, September 2 and includes the DHS Design Writing Award ceremony on one of the evenings.

This year’s DHS annual conference is convened by Meret Ernst (FHNW Academy of Art and Design in Basel) and Monica Gaspar (Lucerne School of Art and Design).

Registration is open at

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