Anna Bates

Critical Writing in Art & Design

Massoud Hassani, Mine Kafon


Major Project: Design and Politics

Global warming; deep economic recession; overpopulation; war; the behaviour of multinationals larger than countries...

Our current political parties don't seem able to cope with the critical problems we face. And because today's parties all seem to share the same views and policies, there are no real choices for the voter.

So where does that leave us? Designers cant save the world. But operating in these conditions and with an acute awareness of the problems we face, a new generation of designers are beginning to reassess what their role is and question what changes they can make, through their work.
Some designers act out their political ideology in interventions as specific as designing a new material; others are at the right hand of government and industry, treating our services as material for their attention; 'critical designers' are using design to instigate debate on matters of policy. There are designers that want to use design to give us more control over our environment but there are also those who use design to try to control us.

With this work, come new questions: if designers are going to be actively political through their work, what can they achieve And whose interests are they serving?

This book explores these questions in five chapters: Design and Agency, Cautionary Terms, The Designs that Constitute a Democratic Society, The Politics of Manufacturing and Design for Prohibition.

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© Rene van der Hulst for Disegno magazine



BA (Hons), English Literature and Language, University of Leeds, 2002


Freelance design writer, London, 2009 to present; Design editor, Icon Magazine, London, 2005–9