Art Activism and Design Activism

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“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
Stream: Art and Education
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Lorella Di Cintio

Lecturer, Faculty of Communication and Design
Faculty of Liberal Studies
Faculty of Design, Ryerson University, Ontario College of Art and Design

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Lorella Di Cintio is a Doctoral Candidate. She teaches at Ryerson University and Ontario College of Art and Design. She has taught at Tokyo University, Musashino Art University, University of Detroit Mercy and Cranbrook Academy of Art. As a McLuhan Fellow at the University of Toronto, she has researched Spatial Perception, Social Space, Communication and Media Design. A component of her pedagogical research and practice attempts to demonstrate that the worlds of the public, policy makers and the designers are not so far apart. Creative breakthroughs are closely related to practical ones – essentially sharing the virtues of creative-critical thinking and the search for innovation. Parallel achievements are possible - creating can be equally intuitive and logical. Her areas of concentration are in Art and Design Methodology: Theory and Practice and Art and Design Activism.

Ref: A07P0036