Art Activism and Design Activism
“Form follows function,” announced the Modernists! “Form follows failure,” cried the Post-Modernists!As a practitioner, educator and life long student I often struggled with the discourse between form and function. Can a design of an activity, object or place create social or cultural change? The answer is often an unyielding yes. We need only to look back a million years ago when the human hand extended itself to reach for a shell or stick. The drinking vessel, the building tool and the weapon marked the moment when our human capacity to comprehend the relationship between form and function. I would like to introduce a concept/term that I have coined as “Soft Design Activism”. Design activism clearly runs parallel with art activism whereby social, political and environmental issues are at the forefront of thinking and making. “Soft Design Activism” could be interpreted as an ideas-based theory: seeds for the design imagination within the socio-political and cultural realm. “Soft Design Activism” is also a practice-based methodology by which is an inclusive, pro-active and participatory in nature. “Soft Design Activism” looks at the human condition of an existing designed activity, object or place. “Soft Design Activism” supports the iterative process with a mandate to comprehend human factors and social spaces.
Keywords: Art Activism, Soft Design Activism, Design Activism, Design Methodology, Design Theory and Process
Lorella Di Cintio
Lecturer, Faculty of Communication and Design