Oh Hai! We are A Parede, a brazilian design research duo currently living in Berlin. Our research interests fall within decolonial thought, radical pedagogies, gender and sound studies.

Drop us a line for collaborations, requests, ideas and/or general friendliness: hello@a-pare.de

Design as Confrontational Politics (2014)

RETUNE 2014

We were invited to give a talk at Retune Conference, which took place in Berlin in September 2014. Centred around the motto  “Inside the Mirror”, we took the conference’s tagline as an opportunity to provoke some reflection on Design practice in Europe versus in Latin America and Brazil.

In this talk we had the opportunity to revisit some projects such as “The Bang Theory”, as well as to present for the first time the “Objects for Aggressive Sonic Occupation” and a glimpse of the current status of our “Design in Times of Crisis”; this means that the presentation was somehow driven by these projects. So here is a quick summary of our presentation along with some of our slides.

Retune_IntroThe main purpose of the talk was to assess our positions on Speculative and Critical Design after a long Summer of developments on the subject. We focused less on pinpointing the problems of the discipline and more on proposing different directions. Unfortunately our Velvet Underground nod went unnoticed.

Retune_HaiWhile revisiting the main design questions we had for “The Bang Theory”, we could trace the path that led us from one point to the other – that is, from a humorous take on “gambiarra” as a traditional latin-american way of dealing with consumer products to the role of a designer when investigating interaction design. We said that with this project we wanted to take the “human component” quite literally into the equation.

Retune_CriticalThe above statement is perhaps the central point to our practice. While critical design inquires the “lack of poetic dimensions” of so-called “mainstream” consumer product design, seldom the question of consuming is taken into account.

Retune_IdeologyThis is a statement we repeated quite often throughout our latest talks, and we do think its reinforcement is ever necessary. There is no such thing as “apolitical art”. If designers think of their practice as so, it means that they are quite comfortable with how things are – and this comfort might be absolutely ok, but demands acknowledgement and self-reflection.

Retune_Dares

The most important part of our talk was perhaps to be able to clearly define our approach to the discipline, that is, the use of Design as Politics of Confrontation. The use of speculative design proposals to ask uncomfortable questions and provoke immediate reaction from those who sometimes do not react: from our own peers to institutions to policy makers.

Most of all, we made sure that our approach is highly experimental, in the sense of tentative: we don’t know whether or not Speculative and Critical Design may succeed as a strong political agent, but we are willing to try to push its boundaries and find its breaking points. This became clear in the discussion that took place afterwards: the big question of SCD is towards our accountability, as designers, with the long tail of our own practice. As long as this question is not properly answered, we still have a long way to go.

Many thanks to Iohanna Nicenboim, Julian Adenauer and everyone at the Retune Conference.

Photo by Thomas Schlorke.