Design Culture Salon 16: What does design do for citizenship in the age of the consumer?

Friday 10 April


Clore 55, British Galleries

Notions of the consumer and the citizen have become curiously entangled in recent years. In many cases, design has been the culprit in delivering this entanglement. Advertisements, branding and luxury lifestyle products increasingly conflate buying and consuming with individual agency on a variety of public issues, from climate change to online privacy. But how meaningful is this association? If design has been a powerful tool in merging notions of consumerism and citizenship, then how might it be used as a tool to reverse this? What other forms of citizenship are available to design with?

Chair: Guy Julier, Professor of Design Culture, University of Brighton and Victoria and Albert Museum.

Irenie Ekkeshis, New Citizenship Project
Gordon Hush, Head of Product Design, Glasgow School of Art
Noortje Marres, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Goldsmiths
Barry Quirk, Chief Executive of Lewisham Council
Leanne Wierzba, Winchester School of Art/V&A Research Fellow in Craft/Luxury

Irenie Ekkeshis started her career at leading London advertising agencies Lowe Lintas and Fallon London, working on clients including Unilever, Nokia, HSBC, BBC and Eurostar. She has worked on several innovative projects, including The Tate Movie Project, a collaboration with the Tate Gallery which harnessed children’s creativity to make a full-length feature film, and BBC jam, a free-to-access platform for children aged 5-16 to learn through interactive games. After a period running leading cultural tour operator The Traveller, and following major illness, Irenie became heavily involved in patient participation within the NHS and launched two innovative patient participation projects with Moorfields Eye Hospital and the National Institute of Health Research Biomedical Research Centre. In 2014 Irenie joined Jon to found the New Citizenship Project. In 2015 she was awarded Health and Social Care Campaigner of the Year by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation for her work to raise awareness of contact lens-related vision loss, following her own experience.

Gordon Hush is a Sociologist who now heads the Product Design department of The Glasgow School of Art. In addition, he oversees a suite of Masters programmes, including M.Des Design Innovation & Citizenship. He is not a fan of design as “nice things for rich people” but accepts that this is the world we live in. He tends to view design and its outcomes as a series of relationships between people and things and tries to explain this in terms of experience(s), since this avoids having to talk about human nature. He would like to see design figure as a means of re-distributing wealth and opportunity in our society, and remains curious as to whether it can truly do so.

Noortje Marres studied sociology and philosophy of science and technology at the University of Amsterdam and the École des Mines in Paris. She currently teaches sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she convenes the Master’s in Digital Sociology and directs the interdisciplinary research Centre for the Study of Invention and Social Process (CSISP). Her work investigates relations between publicity, technology, and the environment by various means: social and political theory, digital methods, and in collaboration with artists and designers. Her first book, “Material Participation: Technology, the Environment and Everyday Publics” (Palgrave, 2012) was recently released in paperback, and she is currently writing a second: “Digital Sociology: the Reinvention of Social Research” (Polity).

Barry Quirk has been Chief Executive in LB Lewisham for over 20 years. He has worked in local government for more than 30 years, with service and management experience in five London Councils. He is  author of Re-imagining government: public leadership in challenging times (2011) and a frequent lecturer on public policy and management. Between 2006-8 he was the President and Chairman of SOLACE (the national association for local government chief executives). His 2013 Royal Society of Arts lecture ‘Design and Public Services: from soft furnishings to hard disciplines’ is available here.

Leanne Wierzba is a design historian, curator and writer. Her research investigates contemporary design practice and the culture of industry, focusing on luxury, digital fashion and speculative design. She is co-curator of What is Luxury? at the V&A and has co-curated a series of exhibitions on contemporary fashion at the Fashion Space Gallery, London College of Fashion. Previous experience as a fashion designer was gained working with notable brands in Vienna, New York, Paris and London. Her writing on fashion, design and contemporary culture has been published internationally.

Free event; All welcome!

This Salon coincides with the V&A exhibition All This Belongs To You.

Directions to Clore 55 here:

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