How can designers free design? Design School Kolding, Denmark, 1 June, 2017

The Cumulus Redo Conference, Design School Kolding, 30 May-2 June, 2017 focused on ‘redoing’ – design and education, society. The unusually interactive and outwards-facing design conference kicked off with a workshop including all delegates where we, in small groups, identified concrete challenges and some hands-on steps in order to redo. I was proud to be one of the keynote speakers (others included Rachel Cooper, Ezio Manzini). The starting point of my talk ‘How can designers free design?’ was a reminder ‘freedom, freefy’ that for the last ten years have gone off each morning at 8am on my three synchronized digital devices. The first is to remind me that I am free which I, and probably other people too, often forget. The second, ‘freefy’, is to remind me that because I have freedom to move, I also have a responsibility to use it. (By this I don’t mean movement by trains and planes, but moving my head, my thoughts, my actions, my criticality, my creativity to new, and sometimes uncomfortable places and encounters, to probe, challenge, open up and try to be generous.) I argued that freedom can be compared to stretching, and that when we don’t stretch into a full potential, the unfilled freedom space may translate into surrogates like overconsumption. I also argued that design intrinsically is a practice of negotiating freedoms, but that, as we sometimes turn too anxiously to other fields (or when are too cool for school), lose some important potentials for design. The talk ended with Let it Go, a power and freedom ballad of our youngest generation.

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