Deviant Design in a House of Old Fears:
On Coloniality in Design Theory and Practice

This workshop is a collaboration between SAVVY Contemporary: The Laboratory of Form-Ideas (Berlin) and Visual Communication (RCA). Everyone involved is a contributor, taking first steps in dismantling design theory and practice as we know it: by questioning the colonial condition that has distorted much of its history and digging into the global entanglements that are in fact at its core.

In this workshop, many presents and pasts meet in order to create a space for epistemological risk-taking that will eventually break open the selective memory and self-centred perspective of the geopolitical West in matters of design history and discourse. Through the participants’ confrontations with an area of research and practice of their choice, we hope to bring together a polymorphous collection of thoughts, objects and doings, that make a first collective step towards shifting the telos of design.

The participants are encouraged to explore manifold forms and disciplines, from the written word to sonic manifestations, ephemeral moments, performative encounters, scents, graphic patterns or whatever seems suitable… Our research and practical enquiries are brought together continuously and will transform the former empty space of our classroom into a living structure. Towards the end of the workshop, we decide collectively how this arrangement can be translated into a more durable form and integrated into the RCA’s Study Collection, as well as SAVVY Contemporary’s Documentation Centre.

Part of this workshop is a lecture-presentation by Dr. Temi Odumousu on the representation of Blackness from the sixteenth Century until today, ways of dealing with the colonial archive and the potential of design to break open the status quo of a racialised world. We will also collectively visit the Design Museum, now hosted in the former Commonwealth Institute. Dr. Rathna Ramanathan will host a lunch in our class room during which she will address the topic of “difficult conversations.” We will also have the privilege to watch Amie Siegel’s film Provenance.