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Design Mass

Reviewing the promise of technological determinism.

Onomatopee 36

What fulfils our world? Technology? Aesthetics? The industry rushes forth, developing new technologies that we are accordingly expected to acquire. Designers make these nice, as even iPod’s are gentle to our senses. Despite all of this: what do we really need? Beauty... technological extensions of our body... what do we need?

Onomatopee invited three theoreticians to reconsider these questions. In the context of the Dutch Design Week, they will use the Onomatopee project space as their study. In here, they and the visitors brainstormed and developed ideas on these topics.


The technological deterministic prophesy of design is challenged. What could the technocratic system of the neo-liberal design industry offer after the crisis and how can they bring this forth? 


Florian Schneider (DE) Koert van Mensvoort (NL) Koen Vermeir (BE)

Onomatopee challenges the parameters of our (visual) culture. For the Dutch Design Week 2009, their gallery space will be overturned into a space of contemplation and reflection. Onomatopee invites theoreticians/writers known with the field of technological culture and design, to contemplate within the celebration, to reflect on its parameters and target groups from the perspective of the targeted themselves. Operating from within the event itself, located in a public accessible office at Onomatopee’s gallery space, the theoreticians will produce texts, directly in contact with the targeted and the events technocratic body: its creators and mediators. The Onomatopee project space will become a study hall; a writing room for the theoreticians, a reading room for the visitors. The resulting texts will be published.


Our welfare state implements humanist norms and values through a direct connection of the new, labour and salary. This system fulfilled itself within the commodity. Our shared religion remains neoliberal, based on the consumption of identity. We often indulge ourselves into these promises, promising ourselves a better future (beyond the credit crisis).

The current western consumption culture is in decay. The commodity-culture became obsolete, cannot cultivate anymore: cannot gain sales, cannot pay off its production. The resulting physical domain of produced commodities grows on and on like a cancer.

Even though in decay, this highly technocratic system remains to put forth new products with new promises. An ongoing outcome of technical progress enables the ongoing production of new products ’unlike ever experienced before’. An ongoing outcome of technical progress still lures us by means of marketing. Most of all, the religious sphere of the commodity became an obsolete fraud, since it cannot sell its religious promise of humanistic fulfilment anymore. Globalism, the final free-market, only showcased the decadence of the western world: we’re not needed! The western neo-liberal system needs to reposition their production and promises.

Big design events, like the Dutch Design Week, flourish as never before. These events celebrate an enlightened promise of progress while western progress might not be able to cope with the material progress that dominated since the start of the industrial revolution. How does our culture, how do you and me relate to this event? How can we comprehend and cope with it; what does it offer and what could it release? How does this technocratic state relate to the flexibility of our culture?