Monday, August 06, 2007

Intersections that don't intersect all that much

"Design is changing as it adapts to a world in transition." The Intersections 07 conference held in Gateshead at the end of October aims to explore some of these adaptations. But despite all the emails and leaflets promoting the event and detailing all the interesting speakers, I don't find myself wanting to attend. Some reflections on why:

- Design is allegedly getting more interdisciplinary or post-disciplinary but at Intersections, there are few speakers from non-design places to give their perspective. I more or less know what many designers say/do - but I am increasingly interested in what people who choose, or don't choose, to work with 'designers' think about them.
- On a similar note, I'm not sure that I want to go to an event that is driven predominantly by the agendas of design practitioners, however insightful or thoughtful (as I know many of the speakers to be) in isolation from Design Research/Theory (people like Ken Friedman, Richard Buchanan, Klaus Krippendorff or Nigel Cross), who are also people who think deeply and care passionately about design and how it might be changing.
- Similarly, I have some idea what Tim Brown of IDEO might cover in his presenation on design thinking - a vision of the world in which business people (should) value designers. Despite some stars (like IDEO) and some promoters of this idea (like Business Week), mostly they don't. Again, I would prefer to hear a dialogue between Tim Brown and some of the management academics who offer a more theoretical version of this story (Boland & Collopy, Roger Martin, Jeanne Liedtka)- and even better, some who don't buy into it.
- Why have a panel on the social anthropology of design, but not include the key academics in related fields who have studied design and desiigners in the broadest sense and have interesting things to say eg Harvey Molotch, Lucy Suchman, Nina Wakeford? Again, I don't just want to hear from designers, however famous or insightful.

In summary, Intersections looks to me as if it will present an up-to-the-minute snapshot of key issues in design practice - as viewed from within design practice. And it will offer a design view on intersections between design and other worlds, but without offering deep insights from those other worldviews. Over in Toronto, an event held in June with some similarities called Overlap doesn't quite hit the mark either, although it does draw more directly on disciplines and practices other than design. The event I would like to go to doesn't appear to exist, yet.


Nick said...

(Personal message in context)

Thanks Lucy, my lack of enthusiasm was troubling me too. Probably my loss. But I think you've articulated it nicely. Sometimes it feels like these conferences have no real "topic"...

Oh and "Hi!" by the way — it's a long time since we met at Ian W's party.

Ralf Beuker said...

Hi Lucy, great posting as you speak right from my heart! Pls. see my response over at my blog since does not seem to support trackbacks ;-( Best, Ralf.


Lucy Kimbell said...

There's a blog set up by Intersections to which several participants have contributed which is worth a look for those who have followed this thread.


Link to Intersections blog