Llucia Homs to open the conference

It´s a fine, sunny day with a light breeze here in Barcelona today. Yesterday we got word that Jaume Ciurana, Deputy Mayor of Barcelona is unable to attend the conference opening this afternoon. Llucia Homs, Director of Cultural Sector Development for Barcelona is kindly taking his place.


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Are we there yet?

…nearly there, yes…

We have nearly 200 signed-up for the conference. The final version of the conference programme has gone to print. Thanks to Sebastia Duatis who has designed the book of abstracts. It is a thing of beauty.

As always, we had to make a few small changes to the paper session programme as just 2 or 3 speakers have found that they can’t attend, after all. It is nonetheless very encouraging that, given these challenging economic times, so few have actually pulled out.

You might think that I’ve got better things to do, and you’d be right. But I’ve just counted the number of e.mails that have passed between Isabel Campi, the conference chair, and myself during the past month with regards to conference organisation. The grand total is 109.


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Late conference registration

Online registration will close on Friday 2 September.

If you wish to register after that day, you will need to pay by cash at the conference reception, 1530h., FAD, PL. DELS ÀNGELS, 5-6 on Wednesday 7 September.

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Update on tours

Due to lack of numbers, we have cancelled Tour 6 to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. However, they have kindly offered free entrance to the museum for all conference delegates.

All other tours will go ahead.

As we need to know the numbers for tours in advance, registration for tours will close on Friday 2 September.

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VIP to open the conference

Jaume Ciurana Barcelona’s newly appointed Deputy Mayor for Culture, Knowledge, Creativity and Innovation (possibly one of the best jobs to do in the city?) will be present to help open the conference on Wednesday 7 September.

Thanks to Jaume for agreeing to come along. It’s good to get some Ajuntament (city council) recognition.

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From a riotous London.

The global fall in stock market prices in the last few days has eerily coincided with the most astonishing high street scenes across London and the UK. Zoe Williams writing in today’s Guardian newspaper provides a useful analysis of the a-political character of these youthful riots. Picking up on Jean Baudrillard, via Alex Hiller, she points out the dislocation of consumer society from a sense of social norms. Or, in other words, it seems that consumption and anomie are not inconsistent with each other. Thus these riots have mostly involved the looting of shops for higher end trophies — branded clothing, phones, laptops, cigarettes and alcohol. They are primarily about stuff, not ideas. This woman in north east London puts it eloquently. Equally, I would add, the global flows of capital within the neo-liberal economic system are also about a disembedding of commodities from society, and the material realities of their production and exchange.

We’re a month away from the conference. Organisationally, things are dropping into place. The programme is finalised (with the exception of the usual last-minute changes). The conference dinner location is fixed. The keynote speakers are warming up. The book of absracts is close to print. And no doubt conference presenters are busy focusing their papers.

The enthusiastic response in terms of papers submitted and delegate registrations suggests that there are many out there dedicated to embedding or re-embedding design into politics. Of course one of our conference aims is to revindicate ‘lost’ histories of design activism, to show that this has been the case for a long time. But it also seems a good moment for us to go backwards in order to move forwards.

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Exhibition — Premis Delta, 50 anys amb el Disseny

Viviana Narotzky, President of ADIFAD (hosts and sponsors of the conference), curator, writer, board member of FHD and a million other things has also curated, with Uli Marchsteiner, an exhibition that surveys 50 years of ADIFAD’s design prize, the Premis Delta. This exhibition can be seen during the conference at the Palau Robert (top end of the Paseo de Gracia on the left).

For aficionados of Spanish design it is a ‘must see’. Not only does the exhibition provide a survey of developing styles, it also provides an fascinating view into the shifting discourses of design in relation to the enormous political and economic changes experienced in Spain between 1960 and 2010. When I saw it I was particularly thrilled by the video clips of 1960s Spanish advertising as well as a great film of the 1971 ICSID conference in Ibiza, featuring its famous inflatable ‘Instant City’ and Jean Baudrillard holding court.


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