DftUW Exhibition

Design for the Unthinkable World is many things. It is an exhibition featuring six international art/design studios; it is a book being published by Routledge/ Taylor and Francis that includes contributions from a diverse group of researchers operating across disciplines, time zones, and methodologies. At its core, it represents the collective space that Paul Rodgers, Craig Bremner, and Giovanni Innella have meticulously curated and imbued with our thoughts, fears and desires, and those of the contributors who have generously and courageously shared their perspectives. This publication is a byproduct of the exhibition that is opening on September 29th 2023 in Castrignano De’ Greci, Lecce, Italy. The exhibition’s inception dates back a couple of years when Paul, Craig, and Giovanni initiated dialogues with six selected design studios. Serving as the starting point was a succinct essay, predominantly penned by Craig. This essay, available in a condensed version as the introduction to this publication, provided the philosophical canvas upon which we wished to paint our collaborative discussions. With quotes from Victor Papanek — the author of the seminal book Design for the Real World (1971) — serving as catalysts, we invited these studios to share their reactions. Their reactions paved the way for expansive interviews. Amidst these engagements, we also tasked the studios to craft visual collages, drawing from the initial inputs. The journey embarked upon with these studios was nothing short of a revelation — surprising, enlightening, occasionally befuddling, humorous, and even unsettling at moments. The familiar Real World we once navigated is a relic of the past. Perhaps, it never existed. We might have imagined it to simplify our lives, setting problems that we could possibly solve – but that we never intended to. Whether it was a consequence of our own doing, an evolution, or a transcendence, it’s undeniable that the Real World world no longer serves as a reliable compass for our endeavours. Recognizing and understanding the contours of our current reality is a task more daunting than we anticipated. Our objective in initiating these dialogues was to unearth fragments of this elusive world, which often escapes our grasp. And true to their reputation, the art/design studios returned with tantalising snippets of a reality most would deem unimaginable. In the role of archeologists, they presented us with fragments of artefacts, honed thoughts, and ideas — all serving as puzzle pieces helping us piece together the dynamics that govern this ‘Unthinkable World’ we find ourselves in.