Social Design between Utopia and Reality

An exhibition at the University of Applied Arts Vienna
by the students of the /ecm postgraduate course

Opening: 3 November 2009, 6 pm
Duration and opening times: 4 Nov – 12 Dec 2009, Tue–Sun 3–7 pm
Location: Vordere Zollamtsstraße 3, 1030 Vienna

„How will we live in 30 years time?“

Ernst Gehmacher, 1968

Social Design, to be understood as creative design with social responsibility, has recently gained increasing importance. The exhibition Der Traum einer Sache – Social Design zwischen Utopie und Alltag (Dream for a Cause - Social Design between Utopia and Reality) looks into this newly (re)found significance: five thematic strands show historical references, explore incentives and ambitions of social design and examine its current practice.

The exhibition has been drawn up by an interdisciplinary team of curators as part of the postgraduate master course /ecm-educating, curating, managing at the University of Applied Arts Vienna and will be accompanied by an extensive programme of talks and events with international expertise.

We communicate on our mobile phone, take the tube to work and sit in front of a computer in our office. The things that we are surrounded by in our everyday life have changed considerably as a result of ongoing technological development. Accordingly, technological design needs to be continuously rethought and adapted. Social Design attempts to address these issues by focusing not only on style and the aesthetics of design, but also on social and societal concerns: How do we deal with scarce resources? How can knowledge be produced and shared? How can everyone have equal access to technological advances? How can we render social problems and inequalities visible?

Dream for a Cause – Social Design between Utopia and Reality attempts to open a discursive space for social design: historical forerunners, ambitions and potential as well as contemporary strategies are analyzed and disentangled. The visual transmission into an underground network illustrates the heterogeneity of social design. Visitors can move through the exhibition along the different underground lines, “get off” at the individual stations and “change” to other lines at junctions.

The “underground line” Modern Utopia maps out historical points of reference for social design with examples such as the Work Chart for Designers by Victor Papanek and the Mobile Home Library by Friedrich Kiesler. The hope that was universally raised with the conquest of space in the ‘60s and ‘70s is shown in Progress Promises. Against this backdrop the question of how social critique is exercised using creative design is addressed by Critical Investigations. These are presented by, amongst others, social appeal posters, the website www.socialdesignsite.com, a photo study of living circumstances of the elderly by the design duo Danklhampel as well as a performance on social space by Jochen Traar. The line Artistic Scopes looks at social design as a problem-solving strategy which also takes into consideration the social, political and ecological dimensions of societal issues. One of the projects shown here is Gabarage by the Austrian artist group Wochenklausur who have sought to provide jobs for the disadvantaged by giving them the opportunity to professionally produce ecological furniture. Finally, Conditions of Production critically examines expectations of achievement and images that designers and their products are faced with.

Dream for a Cause has been put together by a convincingly interdisciplinary team: 21 curators from such widely differing academic backgrounds as Science, Art History, Philosophy, Graphic Design and Fine Art. The opening times are Tuesday - Sunday from 3- 7 pm, supported by a manifold programme of talks and events. Every Thursday international experts have been invited for talks and discussion, including a workshop with the initiators of socialdesignsite.com. Saturdays and Sundays individual curators take visitors through the exhibition.

Contact & Enquiries

Mag. Anja Seipenbusch
University of Applied Arts Vienna
Head of Communications
T: +43 1 711 33–2161

Ruth Strondl
Press and Publicity for the exhibition
T: +43 664 605 14–4024