The design community often promotes the notion that Design can revolutionize the world, as if It possessed some noble essence, independently capable of generating positive impacts. “The power of Design” is what I often hear.
However, this mystification or romanticized narrative about design masks another process: the role of Design in perpetuating the very problems it purports to solve. This promotional smoke bomb traps designers within a commercially driven framework that inhibits the emergence of genuinely transformative change. Thus, beyond the marketing of positive impact and empathy, designers constantly resort to concepts that must be revised to address social issues or facilitate co-creation and collaboration with the people directly affected by problems.
My unlearning journey
The Codex is a straightforward collection of concepts and references that encapsulates my unlearning journey and many years of assembling teaching materials across various sub-disciplines and contexts. The Codex embodies a desire to recontextualize the practice of Design and aims to situate Design within an inherent materialist, critically reflective and ecologically radical framework, providing an alternative lens to understand and navigate the design practice.
With the Codex, I wish to offer a materialist introduction to the confluence of Design and politics for anyone wishing to refine their ability to approach problems from a perspective distinct from the conventional neoliberal approach. With the Codex, I want to provide adequate resources to exert a more significant counterforce against the system that relentlessly exploits and harms our world.
The Codex proposes a conceptual toolbox designed to help prevent the inadvertent perpetuation of capitalist structures within design work while proactively cultivating designers’ abilities to oppose and challenge a system that ceaselessly exploits and damages our world.
The Codex serves, therefore, as a reflective space on the expansive and intricate intersection of Design and politics. It does not provide all answers, but it prompts me to pose more questions and probe deeper into the relationship between design challenges of different scales from a critical perspective.
It’s important to note that this compendium is a work in progress. It is a continually evolving project, open to revisions and expansions as I continue experimenting, learning and unlearning.
My design approach, underpinned by anarchism’s core tenets, advocates a collaborative design practice defined by open access to knowledge, self-governance and shared learning. Drawing inspiration from Free Schools and Critical Pedagogy, this approach encourages an anti-capitalist and critical practice of Design, relying on curiosity, imagination and creativity, challenging the established norms within Design. I support a Design practice based on open knowledge exchange and view my experiences as shared resources readily accessible to those seeking a more profound and critical Design understanding. This vision reflects my blueprint for constructing a transformative design practice, leveraging principles of mutual aid, free idea exchange and egalitarianism.
Using artificial intelligence (MidJourney), I experiment with generating a visual environment that opens a visual representation space for the Codex’s content; I aimed to go beyond cheerful teams on sticky notes or the stereotypical vector characters for web design (like my V1).