Virtual Book Fair

Aug 5, 2021

During the conference breaks and supported by a range of international publishing houses, authors present their books and writing projects ranging from Penny Sparke’s Nature Inside to Swiss Graphic Design Histories research project. Enjoy listening to Monika Dommann and Jonas Voegeli presenting Data Centers: Edges of a Wired Nation. Zeina Maasri introduces Cosmopolitan Radicalism: The Visual Politics of Beirut’s Global Sixties, Sara De Bondt talks about Off the Grid: Belgian Graphic Design History, and Claude Lichtenstein presents his forthcoming The Gravity of Ideas. Click here.

2021 DHS Annual Conference -> «Date: 2-4 September 2021»

Memory full? Reimagining the relations between design and history

When a device reaches the limits of its storage, it typically sends a “Memory Full” warning that serves both as annoyance and incitement for action. Responses include upgrading the physical drive, relinquishing content to an immaterial “cloud,” editing and deleting, or constraining an otherwise unfettered desire to archive everything. Actions like these can be read as a metaphor for how histories of design are shaped. Against a background of multiple temporalities and ontologies for design, this conference sets out to explore the relationship between design and memory. It invites reflection on the entanglements embodied by design between futurity and amnesia, critical discussion on data cultures, and debate around emerging approaches to the designed environment.

How can the memory of design be interpreted, shared, mined, or performed? Stories of social change are recorded in artefacts buried under layers of water or soil, in the plot twists of old novels or vintage media. The legacy of human activity passes into the material culture of non-human species, or enters their very physiology. Practices involving design as means to construct, repair and speculate about the past are integral to processes of codifying both canonic and alternative histories. To what extent can history writing be compared to a design project? Assumptions and bias are embedded in the ways facts are gathered and constructed as habitable stories. How long do these narrations remain functional before they need to be patched with new data? Are machines also learning bias when they are instructed to collect data and present it in meaningful forms?

The conference welcomes historic, contemporary and interdisciplinary approaches to the topic and invites contributions from design historians, and students and scholars in related fields; as well as writers, practitioners, educators, museum professionals, and activists who engage with design history.

Join the conversation using #DHS2021

Platform still open

Sep 5, 2021

The 2021 DHS Annual conference closed. The convenors thank all active participants for their valuable contributions making the exchange lasting and unforgettable. The conference platform is open until Sunday, 12 September. Registered delegates can still access and find all recorded, and pre-recorded content in the Delegates showcase section. The proceedings will be published in early 2022. Click here.

Keynote Speakers

Student-curated Keynote Speaker

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Keynote Speaker

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The FHNW Academy of Art and Design in Basel offers seven bachelor and four master degree courses in art, design, and art and design education and research. The school is located on the Campus of the Arts in the Basel Dreispitz area, close to several cultural institutions such as Kunsthaus Baselland, Schaulager, and the House of Electronic Arts.


Academy of Art and Design

Freilager-Platz 1

4002 Basel



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Conference Convenors:

Meret Ernst, FHNW Academy of Art and Design, Basel
Monica Gaspar, HSLU Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts

Convenors’ Team:

Claudia Mareis, Dept. Cultural History and Theory, Humboldt University of Berlin
Gabriele Oropallo, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin
Michael Renner, FHNW Academy of Art and Design, Basel
Sandra Bischler, FHNW Academy of Art and Design, Basel
Tania Messell, FHNW Academy of Art and Design, Basel