I have always been a big fan of 1972 (along with 1907, 1957 and, possibly, 1986). It was, after all, the year that ADIFAD, Barcelona’s industrial design association and co-sponsors of the conference this year, hosted the ICSID conference in Ibiza. Isabel Campi was there as were many others from among Barcelona’s key design people. I wasn’t there, probably because I was only 11 and hadn’t heard of industrial design at that stage.
But last night I was able to take a trip down false-memory lane when I attended a talk given by Alison Clarke at the Royal College of Art. Alison made some really interesting links between the work of Victor Papanek and the Italian radical design movement in that era. She argued that their thinking was informed by popular anthropology and phenomenology. Stridently, she claimed that this coincides with the beginnings of design history itself.
I hope that we can have a productive discussion at the DHS conference about design activism and the early 1970s. Many of the themes that that were being experimented with then have reemerged now through, for example, the Transition Towns movement or collaborative consumption. The roots of design activism run deep.