Barcelona Cultura

5 books in the tone of Papanek

The space of knowledge of the travelling exhibition “Victor Papanek: The Politics of Design” gathers more than 250 books coming from the Documentation Center of the Museum. The bibliography includes works of Papanek and his contemporaries, as well as titles about design theory, bionics, sustainability, co-design and inclusiveness, among other topics.

The space is now open to visitors, during opening hours of the exhibition. These are five books that you will find here and will take you into Papanek’s thinking and the debate around social and ecological design that he addressed in the 70s.

Design for the Real World. Human Ecology and Social Change (1971), Victor J. Papanek

Despite being criticised by many and praised by few when it was published in 1971, the masterpiece of Papanek is still the most read book about design today. It is an essential read for all the design professionals that see their job from a critical and ethical perspective. In Design for the Real World, Papanek discusses inclusiveness, social justice and sustainability. Almost 50 years later, many of the proposals he gathered have been overcome, but his ideas about the designer’s responsibility, ecodesign and open design are still valid.

Nomadic Furniture (1974), James Hennessey and Victor J. Papanek

This two-volume essay is a result of the authors’ ambition of empowering the citizenry of the mid-seventies to create their own furnishings. Their proposal for an alternative culture of objects is showcased: less products, more lightweight, more nomadic and DIY (Do It Yourself). They offer simple instructions for making beds, chairs and tables, among other objects, using recycled and inexpensive materials. Their ideas open up channels for creativity, as well as for saving money and lightening a household’s footprint.

Design for Life. 99 Projects for the Real World (2015), Oscar Guayabero

The exhibition “Design for Life. 99 projects for the real world” took place at the Design Museum of Barcelona in spring of 2015. Curated by Oscar Guayabero, it presented the key role that design plays in finding solutions for day-to-day problems, improving the welfare of the citizens in our most immediate context, but also in further geographic areas. The catalogue compiles almost a hundred projects in which the potential power of design to have a positive social impact is highlighted.

When Everyone Designs. An Introduction to Design for Social Innovation (2015), Ezio Manzini

In the words of the author, the book offers a general overview of “contemporary design and its transformations, and the social innovation that takes places around the world and has allowed to order a sustainable society in social and environmental terms”. Manzini distinguishes between diffuse design, performed by everybody, and expert design, performed by those who have been trained as designers. Their interactions trigger meaningful social changes and contribute to reach a more ambitious relationship between design and progress, making possible several initiatives, from the community-supported agriculture in China to digital platforms for medical care in Canada.

How to Thrive in the Next Economy: Designing Tomorrow’s World Today  (2015), John Thackara

How are communities around the world transforming to reach a better economy? Thackara tries to find an answer not only through figures and scientific proof, but also from a creative perspective. In each of the chapters, he points the reader towards planet restoration, water preservation and housing, the recovering of the cities, food as a common good, mobility…, and collects examples of social practices that address some of these questions. He will be talking about these topics in the conference “Pathways to sustainability. Finding your place in the next economy”, at the Design Museum of Barcelona December 10. Entrance is free.

Ajuntament de Barcelona