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OPEN CALL for a collective rewriting of design history


Onomatopee invites 6 different designers / collectives / curators to shape 6 workshops around the idea of re-writing design history.

These workshops aim to stimulate the participants to contribute to the rewriting of design history. This contribution may be written, performed or visualized in any way: we do not want to hamper the participants with the same obstacles that make design history and design historiography so inaccessible and exclusive. The diverse contributions could result in a visual research, an object, a piece of poetry, a fictional story, an investigative essay, a manifesto, a poster, a performance, an installation, a video: forms of expression are entirely free!

Each workshop will have a budget, as will each participant. Together we will devise a format that fits the physical and virtual outcomes of the participants.

To conclude the project, Onomatopee will share the result of the workshops with the public by means of a presentation and an exhibition starting from June 2023.

It is not necessary to have a creative education to participate. Instead, we want to involve a diverse mix perspectives, backgrounds and contexts.

We will select 5 participants per workshop (30 in total), who will enter the experiment with the workshop instructor of their choice. Onomatopee aims involve both professionals and non-professionals to stimulate new ways of working and making and encourage the sharing of views and ideas. Participants will be selected with the aim of creating groups that are diverse in interests, motivations and cultural and professional backgrounds.

If you are interested in participating, please fill in this form before the 28th of February.

The workshops

Cooking up mischief by Mayar El Barky (26th of March at Onomatopee - Eindhoven)

Kitchens can be sites of exploitation or care, depending on the politics within them. Similarly, design follows the same logic. Resisting the rigid systems of oppression, like capitalism, colonialism, patriarchy, and ableism, which design continues to uphold, it starts with understanding how these systems define all the aspects of our daily life. Against this backdrop and with the call to action initiated by HistoricALL, I invite you to join me in the kitchen and start cooking up some (designerly) mischief.

Together in our communal kitchen we develop/design recipes which aid in questioning norms and standards within design history while starting to uncover practices, narratives, stories, aesthetics, and modes of knowledge production that are missing from our purview.

What is my social, cultural and political position? Where am I coming from when I critically reflect design?
What are norms I haven’t noticed before that influence my practice?
Which steps can I take to start unlearning them?


Then we moved out of the sitty center by Alvin Arthur (5th of April at Onomatopee - Eindhoven)

Do you believe in a society that is designed by people who sit all day long while creating it? Throughout history, gestures made and performed by humans have been core to our ability to both be with/in the world and navigate it: from sheltering to mating, to cooking and communicating. Long before verbal language, our bodies were the prime constituent of our lives. Besides nature shaping our primal bodily expressions and behaviors, technological happenings began to design us back as we designed them. These technologies slowly standardized our embodied responses to our 'civilized' daily environments, transforming our lives into lifestyles. One of the effects of this 'modernization' brought a massive amount of people into so-called "sitty centers": a sedentary reduction of movements in a sit society. Nowadays, as we settle in chairs, we scroll, tap, swipe, type, and click for most of the movements we produce. How conscious are we of these daily responses? How might we recontextualize and re-body the gestures that end up defining us?


The Union* for Unvalorized (design) Labors by Noam Youngrak Son (25th of March at Onomatopee - Eindhoven)

Why are all my designer friends overworked and underpaid?
While broadening the impact of designers to social critiques, speculative and critical design have resulted in reflective research methods that have diverged from traditional design market demands. While promoted by many design education and hinting at some valuable critical thought experiments, it has remained a niche in the market, leading many (young) practitioners to be confronted by the struggles of earning a living in a field that is already precarious for most independent workers. Besides, as cultural freelancers, more traditional ways of mobilizing political power, namely forming a labor union, are not legally available since their labor is not defined within employment.

The workshop will be built around a fictional organization addressing the precarious nature of un-valorized design labor. Using speculative design methodologies, we will attempt to tackle some inherent and inherited issues peculiar to the fields’ conditions. The aim is to look at how these shared struggles can meaningfully extend into solidarity by practicing maintenance and care with other precarious workers (not only confined to the design field).


Towards a Lighter Internet by The Hmmm with Margarita Osipian and Leanne Wijnsma (31st of March at Onomatopee - Eindhoven)

With new media and digital technologies, there is the underlying assumption that newer is always better. We are primed to always want more—the newest iPhone, the highest resolution videos, more data, more storage, more RAM. Despite the ephemeral metaphors of ‘the cloud’ and the aura of immateriality surrounding digital technologies, the digital ecologies that we are part of on a daily basis have a big environmental impact—and it’s only growing. Our habits, and the design of digital tools and platforms, pushes us to continue to consume and store digital content endlessly. But how do we start to 'feel' the material weight of this digital accumulation? In this hands-on design workshop we'll start to untangle the digital ecosystems that shape our individual data collection habits and learn how to take a more mindful approach to our digitally stored files. We will try to reveal the intersections and connections between design history and the ecological impact of data consumption and data storage. When did we start to design for a more sustainable internet?


Who is designing design? Mapping design history in the workshop by Annika Frye & Kilian Frieling (1st of April at Onomatopee - Eindhoven)

The network of people contributing to a design is more complex than we may think. This is often ignored by design history. When looking at design classics like the Eiermann table, that was designed in the workshop led by Adam Wieland at Stuttgart Academy of the Arts, design authorship becomes precarious (see: Daniel Klapsing: Forschung dutch Redesign, 2017). To further explore the role of non designers in the design process, we want to map the stories of authorship based on your own stories and based on historical examples. In particular, we want to explore design schools with their workshops. We are going to use methods of collaborative working with mapping tools such as Mural or the tool that is based on by Benjamin Unterluggauer and Joscha Brüning. And we will use the method of storytelling as it is framed by Donna Haraway. Our findings will be transferred into a digital publication format.


Resistance Stories of Design by Futuress with Maya Ober (kick off day: 25th of March, fully online)

Hegemonic design history is the story of “genius” individuals — predominantly white men — who reached the upper echelons of the field, fueling the capitalist economy, extractivist modes of production, and fostering consumerism. Accordingly, industrial design is painted as a universal, neutral, and apolitical practice that “solves” problems. However, this dominant narrative lacks scrutiny of the power structures underpinning design and its political and social contexts. On top of that, it also ignores many resistance stories from Cuba to the German Democratic Republic, Argentina to Tunisia, Palestine to India, and beyond, who were countering patriarchal-colonial discourses and tried to imagine industrial design otherwise — a social and politically conscious practice.

In this online research-based workshop, we invite the participants to unveil the past and contemporary stories of resistance from their communities, spanning educational projects, popular initiatives, object stories, local materials, and more.

The workshop leaders

Alvin Arthur is a Guadeloupe born embodied e-learning entrepreneur & educator. He bridges the gap between mainstream education and the way we engage in learning through our moving body. “I believe humans need to move in order to learn and create”, says Arthur, therefore he designs ways for people to learn through their moving body when their educational and work environment is not facilitating it. Intervening at the cross-section of Play, Embodiment and Technology. Within this scope, Arthur puts in practice diverse disciplines such as Game Theory, HCI (Human Computer Interaction), UX design and Choreography of Interaction. He researches questions revolving around our ways of sanely engaging in and navigating the digitizing world we live in. It always starts from the need to move the body.

Mayar El Bakry (she/questioning) is an interdisciplinary designer, researcher, curator and hyphen collector. Her current projects focus on shifting identities and how food/cooking can be a means of mediating these ambiguities and entanglements. She is interested in creating spaces of exchange, collaboration and dialogue. Her approaches are deeply rooted in decolonial, post-migratory and intersectional feminist studies and practices. She is a proud founding member of the critical design practice Cocinas Alterinas. Together with Gabriela Aquije Zegarra they explore alternative design processes through and with food, space and memories. They are currently investigating the correlation between landscapes, recipes and cooking methods focusing on indigenous knowledge production sites.

Annika Frye is a German designer and design researcher based in Kiel, Germany. Currently researching the implications of digital materialities, design education and sustainable futures, she holds a Professorship at Muthesius Academy of Arts and Design Kiel. She is also Research Professor at Design Academy Eindhoven. Kilian Frieling is a medical designer currently working in a lab for sustainable design in Kiel as well as building a research workshop at muthesius transferpark. Together, they frequently work on projects in the field of design research and sustainable design.

Noam Youngrak Son is a communication designer practicing queer publishing. The main question of their practice is about less normative methods of disseminating deviant narratives. They attempt to convey the stories of marginalized bodies which often include that of themselves into designed forms that do not conform to the cis-hetero-normative and colonial power structure. They inscribe myths for the underrepresented in various mediums, from books to public workshops to 3D printed sex toys.

Mayar Ober for Futuress
Futuress is a hybrid between a learning community and a publishing platform. Our mission is to radically democratize design education and amplify marginalized voices. Through various free public programs, we problematize the role of design and foster critical thinking. Our work is literally for the future: we bring people together and support our community to craft their narratives. One story inspires; many stories can ignite a movement!
Maya Ober(she/her) is a designer, activist, researcher, and educator who works on the seam of anthropology, gender studies, and design. As a trained industrial designer, she co-ran a design practice for several years; in parallel, she was part of different activist collectives in Yaffo-Tel Aviv. Believing in the socially transformative potential of education, Maya co-conceptualized Imagining-Otherwise, and initiated feminist curricula. In 2017, she founded depatriarchise design, which in 2021 merged with Futuress where she serves as the co-director. As a Doc.CH grantee by the SNSF, Maya is a doctoral researcher in social anthropology at the University of Bern, looking at feminist practices of design.

Margarita Osipian and Leanne Wijnsma for The Hmmm
Margarita Osipian and Leanne Wijnsma are both part of The Hmm, which is a platform for internet cultures. Through events, online editorials, expert advice, and educational programs, The Hmm reflects on people’s online behavior, the latest internet trends, the mechanisms behind Big Tech companies and their impact on society. Leanne Wijnsma’s practice is an Amsterdam based design studio creating experiences for the senses using smell, taste, soil and microbes. Through the senses they research the impact of new technologies on individual and collective behaviour. Their work is about communicating the importance of the invisible. Margarita Osipian is an independent curator, researcher, and cultural organiser based in Amsterdam. Engaging with the intersections and socio-political frictions between art, design, and technology, she organises workshops, exhibitions, and collaborative projects both in formal institutions and in more precarious and ephemeral spaces.


HistoricALL! is a project initiated by Onomatopee, curated and coordinated by Cecilia Casabona. This project is made possible thanks to Creative Industries Fund NL.