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Designing for liberation

Design is often defined as a professional activity that produces physical and symbolic artifacts. However, in contemporary common parlance, the design word is also used to describe the characteristics of this professional activity’s products. Despite professionals claiming responsibility for these qualities, there is ample evidence that such qualities are not defined solely by professionals. Instead, design qualities are selected and shaped by a collective activity that includes amateurs and users. Hence, professional designers design based on what non-professionals design in their everyday lives. The collective reproduction of patterns is evidence of this collective design activity, which we may call design livre in Portuguese. This freedom does not exist without control, though. The State and corporations limit this freedom through symbolic violence, regulations, standards, technological dependence, and training. This research project aims at developing ways to resist and deconstruct these limits, finding breaches to develop autonomous design projects, in particular, in communities that seek freedom of designing as a way to liberate from historical oppressions. The goal of this research project is to develop the philosophical as well as practical foundations for a design as a practice of freedom.

Fact sheet

Duration: 2010-ongoing
Team: 2 researchers + several communities
Major achievement: Corais Platform (+700 community projects, +6000 members).

Categories: Research Projects.

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