Barcelona Cultura

The Design Museum looks into the work and thinking of Victor J. Papanek in a new exhibition

The exhibition "Victor Papanek: The Politics of Design" is the first big retrospective on the designer, author and activist Victor J. Papanek (1923-1998). Papanek was one of the pioneers of contemporary design and one of the most influential forefathers of the social and ecological design that started in the sixties. The exhibition is a collaboration between the Design Museum of Barcelona and the Vitra Design Museum, together with the Victor J. Papanek Foundation, Universty of Applied Arts Vienna.

What is the social role design should play? This question is explored in his book "Design for the Real World" (1971), still the most widely read book on design. Papanek's work is a call for inclusion, social justice and sustainability, ideas that remain extremely relevant and form the essence of critical, social, inclusive and interdisciplinary design. His impact comes from his work as author and referee of a new way of understanding design, especially in the academic circles, and he intensely promoted a wide social debate on design.

Organised into four sections, the exhibition offers a thorough vision of Papanek's life and work. The starting point will be a video installation that presents his thoughts in a contemporary context; a biographic vision will follow, where unpublished documents of the designer will be on display. Next the main topics of his work are widely shown: the critique of consumerism, the commitment with social minorities and needs of the 'Third World'ecologysustainability… and a series of Papanek's original pieces are also displayed, made together with his students' and collaborators'. The visitors can as well see around 20 contemporary works that will complement the exhibition and will take the ideas of the Austrian designer to the 21st century, along with artists such as Catherine Sarah Young, Forensic Architecture and Jim Chuchu.

The exhibition will be on display at the Design Museum from October 30th on, and will kick off with the keynote lecture of the curators, Amelie Klein and Alison J. Clarke. A wide program of activities, workshops and conferences will take place at the same time, curated by the para-designer Oscar Guayabero.

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