Designer Summit

Thursday, Sep 5
10:00 — 16:30

Designer Summit

Create, Learn, Sustain,

This summit is part of Techfestival: a 3-day festival in Copenhagen with 200+ events on humans and technology.
Interested? Great! Please register to join. Note that this summit has limited seats.

Towards a new design attitude, practice, and education

Humans did not discover fire—they designed it. Design is not defined by software programs, blueprints, or font choice. When we create something new—products, services, technologies, organisations, processes, (eco)systems, environments, ways of thinking—we engage in design activity, a profoundly human way of seeing, thinking, understanding, and acting in the world.

However, Design as a field of theory and practice is still in an early stage of development. This includes missing a shared core body of Design definition, knowledge, and culture that unites us rather than dividing us. This understanding of Design is far from new. Design theory and practice have explored these ideas since the 1960s – such as Metadesign or Designedly ways of knowing.

With this expansive view of Design as our premise, and while facing an increasingly new breed of problems in the world—open, complex, dynamic, and connected— the Design Summit wants to make a case for Design as its own culture of systemic inquiry and action with reciprocity that helps people become more human-centered, creative, and adaptive to others’ ever-changing environments. The systemic nature of Design’s ability to shape its environment (the world) in tangible ways comes with great power and responsibility – this is especially apparent in the Tech industry.

For design to put this power in service to co-creating radically different responses to the challenges we are facing (in tech and beyond), the global design community needs to develop a healthy culture of discourse to establish a body of shared foundational principles and practices that define Design culture, no matter what Design field and activity one represents (and is perhaps emotionally attached to).

The increasing array of emotionally charged disputes in the field around areas of tension such as ‘meta vs. artefact,’ ‘thinking vs. making,’ ‘product vs. service,’ ‘design vs. engineering’, ‘specialisation A vs. B’ (to name a few) seem to be a wasteful distraction, while co-creating  a shared cultural body of Design (true for all for Designers and beyond) is so urgently needed.

Getting started is hard work, and it will take time. At the Design Summit, we will take the first steps together towards proposing an emerging shared foundation for design attitude, practice, and education, by exploring and co-generating an emerging body of postulates and axioms for a mature & global design culture.

Key questions to explore:

  • Purpose: What is Design in service of, and why is that important?
  • Core: What do all Designers do, and how?
  • Practice: In what ways is a shared Design core critical to practice focus areas such as Strategy, R&D, Product/Service, Management, Organisation, etc?
  • Education: What does every Designer need to learn, and from whom?
  • Impact: What role do Design and Designers play in a world currently transformed by Technology?
  • Maturity: How will design change and what will design change?

The result of our work at the Design Summit will be distilled into a Design MetaFesto – a living body of foundational attitudes, principles, and practices for every Designer (and perhaps beyond) can aspire and adhere to – a gift and invitation to the broader Design community to take it further.

Besides, we are planning to create a short video documentary of the Summit to accompany the first release of the MetaFesto. Attention aspiring videographer/filmmakers, if you are interested in helping to document the Design Summit, please contact us!

Sign up here.

Who can join?

We are looking for a diverse group of participants that are passionate about the future of Design in theory and practice. No matter if your background is in Design, Engineering, Business Management, or other peer areas – if the focus of the summit resonates with you, and you enjoy collaboration and co-creation with an open mind, you should probably be in the room

Who are your hosts?

Alexander Baumgardt (GER)

Alexander is a design-centric management consultant, educator, and coach in service to co-creating a world that works for both people and the planet – bringing over two decades of award-winning global design experience to his teaching and consulting practices. He is teaching Design Strategy, Systems, Prototyping, Experience Design, and Social Innovation at the undergraduate and graduate levels at California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco. During his tenure at the Stanford born social impact enterprise d.light, Alexander built and led the team that developed the world’s most affordable high-quality solar-powered light in 2015, awarded by President Obama in 2015 for its essential impact.

Martin Sønderlev Christensen (DK)

Martin is the head of the Institute for Visual Design at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts – School of Design, where he is concerned with re-building the next design education fit for a world transformed by technology. Before venturing into academia and educational side of design, Martin has +10 years of hands-on experience in designing, building digital innovative solutions and advising digital innovation strategies for a large number of Danish companies and organisations. He also holds a Ph.D. in social computing from the IT University of Copenhagen.

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