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Editor’s Letter For our first issue of Plot(s), we present a selection of works demonstrating the diversity of our approaches to design. As evident from the breadth of subjects considered on the following pages, design is increasingly a term of nebulous definition. As practitioners of design studies, we are thus required to invoke flexible modes of inquiry and a willingness to step over the boundaries between disciplines. Our task as the first cohort in Parsons’ MA Design Studies program has been to sketch and navigate a map of this transdisciplinary landscape. In doing so, we have had no choice but to push past the traditional methods, expectations, and borders of academic work. The results continue to be an array of creative scholarship that cannot be fit neatly into any one box. So, in lieu of a box, we offer you Plot(s).

– The Editors

Contents PAGE 9






LINDSAY, editorial director Anticipating the demise of humanity, Lindsay Reichart believes sustainability must become inherent in human practice.

RACHEL, managing editor Rachel Meade Smith likes meeting new spaces. A classic INFJ, her favorite parts are the corners.

KAMALA, peer reviewer Kamala Murali is from Chennai and is pretty good at flying kites.

KOMAL, peer reviewer Komal Sharma believes pottery classes should be free and mandatory for all.


peer reviewer & PR manager It is late evening; somewhere in New York Laura Wing stirs at the faintest hint of jasmine, eucalyptus groves and that cold Pacific Ocean.


copy editor If Natalie Nielsen were an object, she would be a snuggie.

HAYLEY, copy editor Hayley Arsenault loves to ride her bike along the river with a coffee in the basket.

GIGI, designer Gigi Polo is from Dominican Republic. When she moved to NY in 2003, she found her muse in a pair of yellow galoshes.

JUAN PABLO, designer Juan Pablo Pemberty is a designer from Colombia. He assures us that his city, Medellin, is South America’s most interesting place.

YOKO, photo editor Yoko Wang wants to be a round watermelon swimming in a cool stream with two short but slim legs.

JHEN YI, production manager Jhen Yi (Maggie) Lin believes in the kindness of the human heart and aims to be a systems thinker.

SALEM, Believing creative expression is a fundamental human quality, Salem Tsegaye lives for loosening capitalism’s grip on art and design.

*Cover illustration by Lexie Smith. Authors published in this issue of Plot(s). °Academic Advisor: Susan Yelavich, Associate Professor and Director MA Design Studies, School of Art and Design History and Theory.



WHATEVER ONE WOULD ASSUME A MAGAZINE OF INTERIORS TO BE, NEST CERTAINLY ISN’T. Unlike other shelter magazines, nest’s luxury interiors—that is, those esteemed for their lush décor and expensive furnishings—are few and far between, and of those that are featured, luxury is often mocked. Take, for instance, the Winter 2001-2002 issue of Nest. Art Director and Editor-in-Chief Joseph Holtzman opens his letter with an introduction to the issue’s first story and an announcement of Nest’s unofficial entry into the real estate business. Holtzman informs readers Nest’s Chief Operating Officer Pat Stacom will present an inaugural “Jewel of the Week,” the magazine’s attempt to “flat-out promot[e]” luxury apartments, unlike the more quaint and subtle plugging done by other shelter magazines.1 The blatant sarcasm in “Nest Real Estate: Properties Only Real Money Can Buy” (as is evident even in the editorial’s partly italicized title) runs rampant throughout the piece. It opens with a photograph of Stacom presenting—in a

pose much like that of showgirls from old television game shows—a lavish crème and gold decorated sitting room, with the image itself surrounded by a ring-like border encrusted with jewels, superimposed on the page’s aqua granite background. The caption underneath unabashedly reads, “Steal me for $1,400,000,”2 and further along, the humor continues as Stacom exaggerates, “You’ll never see curtains anywhere pool more lavishly than in this bedroom. There’s more material on the floor than off.”3 For first-time readers, this humorous critique of luxury interiors is an alert that this magazine is, in some sense, about high class and culture, but despite the interspersed advertisements from designer labels, does not necessarily exist to support or promote the lifestyle. Rather, it is a deliberate attempt to deconstruct what Western society has deemed to constitute high culture in art and design and introduces us to an infinite range of interiors—not just decked out rooms, but interiors simply as spaces people and/or things4 inhabit. Nest certainly does PLOT(S)9

All images taken by Salem Tsegaye.

not undermine the value of art and design movements of the last few centuries, if anything, it embraces it through its carefully crafted ornamentation of each page, but it is Nest’s unconventional approach, its technique of experiential criticism, that tells the reader that conventions do not exist as fixed constructs, and they indeed can and should be broken. This particular issue of Nest constantly challenges what we tend to think of as typical. Aside from its obvious theme of slits and slashes, where a graphically imposed slash or physical slit obtrudes texts and images on most of the magazine’s pages, there is an underlying theme of surveillance. The slits and slashes serve as metaphorical mechanisms for peering in, enabling us to examine interiors we perhaps never would think twice to look at because social conventions have designated some of these spaces as private, like the abortion clinics or execution chambers featured in this issue. In the photograph above, Lucinda Devlin PLOT(S)10

depicts an electric chair from the viewpoint of an individual sitting in a witness room in a 1991 diagnostic and processing center in Georgia.5 In this image, the theme of peering in is made visible both through the content of the image and the presence of a physical slit in the page. Furthermore, the photograph is accompanied by text that outlines a step-bystep procedure for this method of execution, imposing a discomforting level of awareness of the practice of killing upon the reader. In similar fashion, Nest additionally features a gas chamber, lethal injection chamber, and gallows as part of this particular issue’s column called “Final Nest.” It is only fitting that Nest would mimic the finality of life itself by placing an editorial about death chambers at the very end of the magazine. It keeps in mind these interiors are (at least for those facing execution) spaces of final inhabitance. It is important to acknowledge Nest not only makes these interiors public, giving us a glimpse into traditionally private spaces, but the magazine also urges us to challenge

the conventions that tend to restrain how we think about spaces and behaviors as controlled phenomena and how we come to delineate proper from improper, good from bad, appropriate from inappropriate, and so on.6 The magazine goes one step further by challenging conventions in both content and context, that is, the stories being told as well as the visual layout of a page. Borders are constantly altered to complement the content within each editorial. In “Lindisfarne,” Irish novelist and literary critic John Banville writes about Edward Hudson’s transformation of a sixteenth-century fortress into a nineteenthcentury castle getaway off the Northumbrian coast of England. Hudson was the founder of Country Life Illustrated and “flourished in the nineteenth-century publishing industry,”7 allowing him to purchase and redesign Lindisfarne, the name of his island-based country retreat, with the help of architect Edwin Lutyens. The article highlights Hudson’s vision—executed by Lutyens—to merge the relatively simple

elements of medieval living with Art Nouveau influences from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Adding its own complementary touch, Nest lines the text and photographs with Nouveaupatterned borders. This technique of identifying a key element within the content of the editorial and graphically reproducing and representing that single element within the visual layout of the pages is also used in “Return to Turin,” where leaves imprinted on the floor reappear behind the accompanying text and captions. Nest contributing editor Fulvio Ferrari highlights (in the caption of the photograph depicting these leaves) that the terrazzo-like texture of the leaves is actually modern resin. Perhaps Nest is paying homage to the creative crafting ability of Toni Cordero, architect and designer of the Turin apartment featured in the editorial, but Nest’s attempt to recreate and represent these elements in the layout speaks to the magazine’s strength in offering commentary PLOT(S)11


through both design and writing. One could also interpret this as self-demonstration of the individualized creativity Nest celebrates throughout its editorials. Most of them highlight individuals’ ambitions to recreate spaces with the primary intent of integrating styles that would seem contradictory in a conventional sense but end up being unusually complementary. This is superbly demonstrated in “Fee, Fi, Faux,…Fum,” where author and academic Robert Gluck highlights set designer Reno Dakota’s tiny East Village apartment decorated in layers and layers of seemingly worn-down patterns (like the layers of linoleum Dakota has scraped through), which are really deliberate attempts to resemble decay. Imagine that—challenging the very idea of decay as conventionally distasteful and reimagining it for highquality aesthetic. Nest again mimics this element, as depicted in the picture on page 11,8 by bordering the texts and images within the editorial with wallpaper of floral imprints on an upholstery-like background. Nest also surrounds each caption with lining that resembles segments of scratched-off wallpaper. With Dakota’s actual designs in the background, one can easily see how context complements content. Dakota’s ability to create a new aesthetic from the old is at the heart of another important message Nest communicates: the creative and unrestricted agency of the dweller. Nest emphasizes that creativity itself, and not the cost of materials or the commissioning of professionals, produces design value. Although Edward Hudson and Toni Cordero had the financial means

to redesign their interiors, Nothozamile Zamas, a woman with minimal means, used at-hand materials to design an equally celebrated interior. “Mrs. Zama’s House” features a South African woman who has decorated and furnished her shanty home using materials her husband rescues from the scrap yard. The interior of their family home is lined with makeshift wallpaper, produced from collaged pages of advertisements from furniture retailers. Writer Miriam Tlali also highlights Mrs. Zamas’ handiness and resourcefulness, constantly communicating her independence in devising and implementing plans for use of the materials her husband brings home, without his consultation or assistance. Defying gender norms, Mrs. Zamas serves as a strong, unconventional representation of the handywoman hard at work. Moving away from the magazine’s editorial content, it is important to note the selection and placement of advertisements in Nest. Upon first glance, one would assume the magazine, initially featuring Louis Vuitton, Prada, Hermes, and Fendi ads, targets the elite of Western society. However, this assumption is quickly challenged by the sudden series of Target ads thrown into the mix. As mentioned in Nest’s “Philosophy of Advertising,” advertising in Nest does not entail product promotion, it instead invites readers to carefully inspect, consider, and judge these ads, featured by invitation only, with as much diligence as the editors.9 Furthermore, advertisements in the magazine are strategically placed before or after all of the articles, allowing readers PLOT(S)13

to uninterruptedly engage in whatever thematic continuity the editors have presented. Nest’s philosophy also makes evident that the magazine is not in the business of making money; otherwise, one could imagine it would sell itself to any highprofile advertiser. As Fred A. Bernstein indicated in an August 19, 2004 New York Times article, Art Director and Editor-inChief Joseph Holtzman “…would not sell the most valuable advertising space—the back cover—which he designed himself,” and this is certainly demonstrated in the Winter 2001-2002 issue of Nest. The back cover displays a photograph (seen on page 12) that is part of an editorial written by and about curator Christopher Wilk’s strategy for negotiating and implementing the five-year renovation of the British design galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The photograph depicts a centuries-old portrait with protective ties attached, cautioning the handler of its value and fragility, but the back cover reproduction has the graphically imposed slashes that are present in other parts of the magazine. The slashes, speaking to an earlier theme, directly contradict the supposed value and fragility of the protected portrait. Sure, the slashes are obtrusive, but they communicate a more important message. In Nest, value is redefined. In Nest, anything goes. References can be found on page 70.


What’s Pain Got to do With Design By Komal Sharma

BASED ON THE BODY IN PAIN: THE MAKING AND UNMAKING OF THE HUMAN BODY BY ELAINE SCARRY, THIS PAPER WILL ATTEMPT TO MAKE THE INHERENT MORE OBVIOUS. Scarry’s book is broadly about the politics of torture and war, and more specifically about the making and unmaking of the human body. In her exploration of pain lies a talisman for designers and this paper’s endeavor is to interpret and fine-tune that for a design-oriented reader. With the backdrop of The Body in Pain, this paper will primarily focus on the chapter “The Interior Structure of the Artifact,” since that is of direct relevance to designers. NATURE OF PAIN Pain is an absolute, universal reality of all human life. It overarches pretty much everything else. It demands an urgency that is singular and unflinching. When one is in pain, there is no other reality, no other priority, no other agenda but to relieve that pain. And design, in some measure, may be

seen as trying to find antidotes to all kinds of sufferings. If, in fact, design’s agenda is to relieve suffering of some kind, it seems natural to start at understanding the nature of suffering. Scarry’s discourse on the nature of pain begins at its ability to destroy language, or the inability of the one in pain to articulate it. Scarry quotes Virginia Woolf to express its “unsharability”: English, which can express the thoughts of Hamlet and the tragedy of Lear has no words for the shiver or the headache…. The merest schoolgirl when she falls in love has Shakespeare or Keats to speak her mind for her, but let a sufferer try to describe a pain in his head to a doctor and language runs dry…

Scarry continues, Physical pain does not simply resist language but actively destroys it, bringing about an immediate reversion to a state anterior to language, to the sounds PLOT(S)15

and cries a human being makes before language is learned.1

The fact that a designer cannot understand another’s pain by means of language—let alone feel its intensity physically—implies that he or she cannot measure it effectively. Which consequently means that his/her intervention comes from an imagined pain. That might be the closest we can get to the nature of pain, but it is often problematic because of another peculiarity of the nature of pain. Misunderstanding pain can completely turn the conclusion, on its head. It creates the ‘antithesis.’ 2 One can miss the obvious and ascribe it with reasoning that is not only just alternative but possibly an inverse of the truth. That is a pitfall most designers would dread. This paper is based on the belief that the problems of perception are the biggest problems facing designers. Scarry gives several examples of this misreading, of which one is reproduced here: …in the young, industrial world described by Marx, the exclusion of the women and men who are the creators of made objects from the benefits of those objects is perceived as resulting from their inferior creativity (spiritedness, interest in education, capacity to create good lives, capacity for risk-taking and adventure)…. The recurrence of such inverted descriptions suggests the existence PLOT(S)16

of a general phenomenon….(which is)….as physical pain destroys the mental content and language of the person in pain, so it also tends to appropriate and destroy the conceptualization abilities and language of persons who only observe the pain.3

As Scarry continues to diagnose and describe the workings of pain for the benefit of the observer, there is an agenda for design as well. If a designer were to approach pain with this knowledge gained about it, there could be a better, more equipped game plan to fight it. If they were to be well versed with the dynamics of pain, they would be in a better position to eliminate it or work around it. Even figuring out how to tackle pain— whether to eliminate the origin or relieve it by a more acupunctural approach—would have more clarity.

POLITICS OF PAIN AND DESIGN The premise of The Body in Pain is rooted in case studies of torture and war. By doing that, Scarry has lifted pain out of a strictly medical context and given it a human and a political context. She looks at political events like war and brings the reader closer to the need for political justice in their creations or interventions.


War is an event that has marked most of human history. Torture is coloured as politically correct if looked at as a tool of ‘information gathering.’ Scarry reveals our inability to understand such complex issues, let alone solve them: That war, relentlessly centered in the reciprocal activity of injuring and only distinguishable from the other means of arriving at a winner and loser by specific nature of injury itself, should so often be described as though injuring were absent from or, at most, secondary to its structure, again indicates the ease with which our descriptive powers break down in the presence of a concussive occurrence, and may lead one to worry how we can set about to answer ethically complex questions about war when even the phenomenology of the event so successfully eludes us.4

The case studies of torture and war become relevant here because design inherently is about political justice. Even before one begins to solve something, they have to first assess the contours of the situation, understand the context, find out who is benefited and who is hurt by it. Every choice then made is political. Scarry says, “it is hard not only to assess the ‘rightness’ and ‘wrongness’ of what is taking place but even to perform the much more elementary task of identifying, descriptively, what it is that taking place.” 5

Scarry is clearly aware of our collective ignorance about the nuances of making and unmaking. She says, “Knowledge about the character of creating and created objects is at present in a state of infancy.”6 Yet in doing so, she acknowledges that there is a bigger purpose of design. If design were to be seen as something that holds the capacity to bring order to the world, if it can deliver political justice, as opposed to mere making of an object, then the reading of pain—which is political, overarching, experiential—becomes even more logical. After getting a sense of the nature of unmaking/pain, let us consider the opposite end of the spectrum—making or creation. THE MEANING OF MAKING Though the title of the chapter under consideration includes the word “artifact,” it must not be confused as design for a singular product. Scarry’s conception of design is design as a process: “making making,”7 as she puts it. She makes a clear distinction: Torture and war are not simply occurrences which incidentally deconstruct the made world but occurrences which deconstruct the structure of making itself; conversely, western religion and materialism suggest that ongoing PLOT(S)17

work of civilization is not simply making x or y, but “making making” itself, “remaking making,” rescuing, repairing, and restoring it to its proper path each time it threatens to collapse into, or become conflated with, its opposite.8

Scarry goes on to elucidate how manmade design is a projection of human body parts. The bandaid mimics skin, the camera works on the principle of the human eye lens, Freud’s phallus has all kinds of references. She takes it a notch higher and shows how objects are projections of human attributes. She says: “The printing press, the institutionalized convention of written history, photographs, libraries, films, tape recordings, Xerox machines are all materializations of the elusive embodied capacity for memory.”9 All such projections have an underlying message—that the basic tendency of all creation is to project itself. For instance, when a poet projects their aliveness onto inanimate objects like a river or a sunset, it suggests that it is trying to project its own aliveness onto inanimate objects. Scarry says:

To, finally, conceive of the body as “aliveness” or “awareness of aliveness” is to reside at last within the felt-experience of sentience…”10


She continues to argue, “and it is this most interior phenomenon, in some very qualified sense projected out onto the object world.11

In this transfer of sentience, there is a very ephemeral but crucial idea for designers to grasp. On one hand is human creation that pretty much makes up the built world, on the other hand is physical pain that leads to the destruction, the unmaking of the human world. And if this paper were to imagine the designer being a bridge between these two shores, then their role would be one of mediator. One may argue that a designer creates only the artificial world. But this artificial world resides within the natural world. It would be naïve to think that the built world exists in its own vacuum. It lives within the natural world and the natural world is not the most sentient of beings. Its capacity to inflict pain is quite unforgiving and inevitable. Scarry notes: The naturally existing external world—whose staggering powers and beauty need not be rehearsed here—is wholly ignorant of the “hurtability” of human beings. Immune, inanimate, inhuman, it indifferently manifests itself in the thunderbolt and hailstorm, rabid bat, smallpox microbe, and ice crystal.12

With that backdrop, the role of the designer, and her/his ability to understand pain, becomes paramount. The designer interrupts, intervenes, and through his made objects mediates between the ‘hurtable’ humans and the indifferent nature. Scarry continues: The human imagination reconceives the external world, divesting it of its immunity and irresponsibility not by literally putting it in pain or making it animate but by, quite literally, “making it” as knowledgeable about human pain as it were itself animate in pain.14 Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Let’s face it. Pain isn’t going anywhere. It is here to stay. It marks every point of human life, even the most joyous occasions—like birth. John Berger, in his poetic essay, “The White Bird,” captures the role of pain and how it plays out in a life that is lived amidst a harsh nature. Urban living has always tended to produce a sentimental view of nature. Nature is thought of as a garden, or a view framed by a window, or as an arena of freedom. Peasants, sailors, nomads have known better. Nature is energy and struggle. It is what exists without any promise. If it can be thought of by man as an arena, a setting, it has to be thought of as one which lends itself as much to evil as to good. Its energy is fearsomely indifferent. The first necessity of life is shelter. Shelter against nature. The first prayer is for protection. The first sign of life is pain.13

Consider a more design-oriented example. Scarry articulates the purpose of a chair, a blanket and a wall: A chair, as though it were itself put in pain, as though it knew from the inside the problem of body weight, will only then accommodate and eliminate the problem. A woven blanket or solid wall internalize within their design the recognition of the instability of body temperature and the precariousness of nakedness, and only by absorbing the knowledge of these conditions into themselves (by, as it were, being themselves subject to these forms of distress), absorb them out of the human body.15

THE ANSWER LIES IN THE QUESTION However, the inclination of this paper to insist on the understanding of pain is not just as an empathy-learning exercise, but because there is a real, tangible tool in there for designers. Scarry saves the best for last and arrives at the insight that within the perception of pain lies the wish to relieve it. And that’s a great start. In other words, PLOT(S)19

an answer to the problem lies within the problem. That could possibly be step-one in the design process that is geared towards finding a solution. Scarry notes: If one imagines one human being seeing another human being in pain, one human being perceiving another in discomfort and in the same moment wishing the other to be relieved of the discomfort, something in that fraction of a second is occurring inside the first person’s brain involving the complex action of many neurons that is, importantly, not just a perception of an actuality (the second person’s pain) but an alteration of that actuality (for embedded in that perception is the sorrow that it is so, the wish that it were otherwise.) Though this interior event must be expressed as a conjunctive duality, “seeing the pain and wishing it gone,” it is a single percipient event in which the reality of pain and the unreality of imagining are already conflated. Neither can occur without the other: if the person does not perceive the distress, neither will he wish it gone…16

In between this wishing away of pain and the actual elimination of pain lies the object, the designers’ creation, the artifact. The object itself goes through two stages—the imagined object or ‘making-up’ and the realized object, ‘making-real.’ In this process, as an object is being imagined in the mind and as it is being configured physically, the awareness of the nature of pain gets transferred onto the inanimate object. A responsibility is embodied within its physical parts and that is why it can mediate between an indifferent natural world and a fragile human body. PLOT(S)20

Scarry shows how this embodiment of responsibility comes through not just in customized, thoughtfully made objects for a particular person’s needs, but even mass-produced objects—if they were to say something in words—would be this: In Scarry’s words, ...anonymous, mass-produced objects contain a collective and equally extraordinary message: Whoever you are, and whether or not I personally like or even know you, in at least this small way, be well.17

Why is it that for an object to manifest a message, for a designer to create such a sentient object, one requires going through the visceral process of exploring pain? How does the inexpressibility of pain get metamorphosed into a designed artifact that alleviates a collective anguish? Especially at a time when technology is so seductive— simply for the scale of power of creation it allows for—what is it that can keep an object from being an alienated, technical device that is completely removed from all human and natural reality? Answers to such questions may be found in the seemingly unlikely pages of The Body in Pain. References can be found on page 70.

Otto von Busch: REMAKING ROADS TO AGENCY By Kamala Murali

IN A FASHIONABLE WORLD THAT RESERVES BEING FASHIONABLE FOR THE FEW LUCKY ONES, OTTO VON BUSCH IS PUSHING THE ENVELOPE OF DESIGN FROM WITHIN, AND FROM THE BOTTOM-UP, TO FIRMLY ASK THAT THE PRIVILEGE OF BEING FASHION-ABLE BE TAKEN BACK. There is an optimistic quality to his practice that sees design as having innumerous possibilities, and fashion as having enough room to allow him to critically examine its political nature. The same expansiveness is reflected in his persona, for Otto von Busch is many things—fashion artist, designer, crafter, theorist, post-doctoral researcher at the Business and Design Lab at the School of Design & Craft at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, as well as Assistant Professor in Integrated Design at Parsons The New School for Design in New York. That said von Busch has chosen to situate his practice very much in the midst of fashion. His research approaches fashion

from a myriad of perspectives—some which grew out of personal experiences, and others that expose fashion and its practices for having the potential to expand and incorporate a sense of the everyday. His work stems from a critical engagement with and questioning of current fashion practices, delving into fashion’s close proximity to the political. There is an underlying thread that runs through von Busch’s design practice that is crucial for what design’s role can be for the future and this is it: to fight for some, and in his case, many kinds of social justice. The themes he traverses through in his doctoral thesis, his research and his projects speak of fashion design’s ability to be critical, political, accessible, hack-able, situated in the everyday, just and ultimately to make people able. This article explores von Busch’s framing of his design practice as an open, explorative platform that understands fashion to remain a celebration of identity by including the abilities of individuals in shaping their PLOT(S)21

identity on their own terms, and thereby rearranging power relations between those that produce and those that consume. von Busch’s practice can be seen as facilitating instances of “dissensus,” as defined by Keshavarz and Maze, by opening up spaces in which individuals can reclaim their sense of agency.1 Thus, his practice can be regarded as a model within the emerging understanding of design as a practice that shapes the future of human relationships. Its engagement with social injustices in the fashion realm is insightful, critical and more importantly, possible. THE EMERGENCE OF A PRACTICE In school, von Busch learnt that sewing his own clothes gave him a sense of personal identity. He quickly learnt that what one wore could solicit judgment from peers. The experience of using his abilities to create something that had meaning in his world grew out of his inability to purchase clothing. He saw that in his ability to make his own clothing lay the power to create a position in the world of his own making. During his time in the military service after school, von Busch became engaged with the writings and political work of Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. The civil disobedience movements led by Gandhi in India and Martin Luther King in the United States, as facets of their political practices, helped shape von Busch’s idea of acting in design, as opposed to on or about design.2 The political movements of both Gandhi and Martin Luther King taught von Busch that here was an approach that could facilitate a dialogue and negotiation between the PLOT(S)22

power relations in fashion to take place. Challenging the constructs of fashion from within was a way to go beyond simply undermining the power hierarchies and to open up a debate that stemmed from the bottom up, and from within. In addition to studying civil disobedience, von Busch began to study craft as an individualistic way of making—one largely limited to the domestic environment within the everyday. He followed this education with a year of carpentry and finally textile design. Years later at university, he found that this understanding of craft as being linked to the everyday would clash with his study of art history which focused on the larger contexts of art. This duality between the everyday and the larger realm presented themselves as opposites. While these ideas about civil disobedience and the value of the everyday were formulating in von Busch’s mind, he encountered a new media would spark off what would come to form the basis of his practice.3 During the dot-com boom in 1999, von Busch began a Bachelor’s degree in programming. He speaks of a particular course that introduced him to the Internet, open-source programming and information sharing; the class was called “Physical and Virtual Design.”4 He was also still sewing and remaking his own clothes. Suddenly, he was able to translate the concept of information sharing into an idea about sharing ways to remake clothes. And so, around 2000, he started to compile a series of PDFs on how to transform, step by step, a pair of pants. He recounts, I think that was my craft encounter with new media…[that] opened up

exactly what I wanted to do with civil disobedience. This was the tool for me to educate my user. And that was really [when] the hacktivist framing… just came together.5

As his microcosm of craft and fashion remaking met the possibilities within the macrocosm of information sharing, and combined with the notion of civil disobedience as a tactic of political protest against injustice, von Busch’s idea of being inside design emerged. He questioned the passive nature of fashion consumers and began to explore the idea of independence in a world that dictates fashion: what does it mean for a designer to empower their user rather than disenfranchise them by dictating fashion? This question directed his research to the abilities and skills of fashion consumers that would encourage appropriations of fashion and allow them to become “fashion-able.”6

The concept of “hacktivism” became the center of the prism. Just as a ray of light that hits a prism is refracted in numerous directions, a single approach to “hacking” into the fashion system can also project a variety of possibilities. This is also what makes the idea of hacktivism appropriate as a tool for activism within fashion as it allows for active interpretation and transformation according to the participant. There is never a right answer.8

Acting in design for von Busch means tapping into the stream of fashion, using one’s abilities to craft and make one’s own fashion, thus fostering independence. He also refers to this as “hacktivism.” Acting in design or being fashion-able allows you to construct your everyday though your own abilities, and thereby further enriching your world.

How does design activism differ from von Busch’s hacktivism? In Abstract Hacktivism, he explores the politics of emergent computer network technologies and its relation to contemporary strategies of activism. He defines hacktivism, in the context of fashion as concerning “construction rather than deconstruction or destruction.”9 On the other hand, design activism as Markussen writes: “has a political potential to disrupt or subvert existing systems of power and authority, thereby raising critical awareness of ways of living, working and consuming.”10 The two are complementary but different. While design activism rests on the act of disruption, von Busch’s hacktivism takes the opposite course, which is that it does not undermine the system but constructively challenges it from within.

ON HACKTIVISM In von Busch’s thesis, “Fashion-able: Hacktivism and Engaged Fashion Design,” a prism becomes emblematic of his research practice.7 This prismatic research model offered a variety of approaches that could enable fashion consumers to adopt an active role within the realm of fashion.

In his research on design, von Busch emphasizes wanting to deepen design through engagement and participation, discarding the academic tradition that encourages “detached criticality” and “analytical distance.”11 In terms of re-contextualizing the power relations in fashion, his research enables new PLOT(S)23


possibilities for engaging with fashion design on a local, self-driven scale. It encourages the nurturing of one’s own capability in fashion that further emancipates the individual from topdown institutions of power. In relation to the passive consumer, von Busch’s research investigates a selfinstituting approach in order to question how autonomous one can be within fashion. He builds on philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis’ concepts of “autonomy” and “heteronomy” as ideas that can be applied to this approach to fashion.12 Castoriadis relates fashion to a regime of “instituted heteronomy” in which consumers attribute “imaginaries to some extra-social authority” (such as God, tradition, ancestors). In contrast, “autonomy is the act of explicit self-institution.”13 As this concept underlies democracy, von Busch calls for fashion to be democratically autonomous as well, for a break with the established “dictations” of the industry to allow fashion to be an effective freedom that results in self-reflection.14 The economist Amartya Sen’s “capabilities approach” provides the framework through which von Busch constructs the possibility of allowing a consumer to go beyond the PLOT(S)24

commodity and look at what he or she can do or be.15 Sen argues that we ourselves are commodities because of our belief that commodities transfer their meanings onto us, allowing us to be fashionable. Yet, what is of more interest, he argues, is “what the person succeeds in doing with the commodities and characteristics at his or her command.”16 This creates a fashionability that opens up possibilities to be self-reflective and socially engaged giving the user the freedom and capability “to do and be something.”17 It also confronts social injustices of the fashion system by undermining its undemocratic character and allowing autonomy from within. THE DALE SKO HACK PROJECT In April 2006, von Busch began a hacktivist project in a local shoe factory called Dale Skofabrikk in Dale, Norway. The Dale Sko Hack project was an experiment to negotiate new processes and relationships through the exploration of collaborative interventions —or hacks—into the post-industrial processes of shoe production. The aim of the project was to open up the linear machine processes of production, thus “hacking the ‘software’ of the production line, through choice of designs, materials, processes, methods.”18 The participants, made up of the factory craftsmen and women, as well as six Norwegian fashion designers, created

new dialogues within design that were spontaneous and explorative. The idea of the shoe hack was to “challenge the technical innovation through operational misuse.”19 In the Dale Sko Hack Booklet, produced after the workshop, von Busch asks if the role of the designer can be reorganized to enable them to work with production at the local scale. This could “outline the foundation for social change in production.”20 He argues that this reorganization could result in a new mode of production for fashion that would allow designers to exist within their global markets yet utilize the craft skills at the local level in collaboration with producers. The re-appropriation of the fashion process through hacking created new ways of production and new social relations that reversed the role of the designer from creator to facilitator. It brought the local producer, in the factory, closer to their consumer. In addition to facilitating new interactions through hacking into the production process, it is also important to note that this project focused on the spontaneous development of a new aesthetic within fashion—a renewed sense of autonomy that reexamines the idea of time involved in production. This project showed that self-production could result in greater agency and this has the potential to be a new aesthetic of fashion. PLOT(S)25

In light of von Busch’s idea of hacktivism, the Dale Sko Hack project argued for a re-negotiation of the aesthetics of fashion production and consumption that is new, exciting and intended to make one selfaware. In this manner, von Busch’s work seeks to negotiate these power relations so as to empower the fabricator, designer and consumer through ways that create new exclusivities. He asks: …how do we plug into the aesthetics of our time and make that type of aesthetic accessible, or possible for people, participants to engage with in a sense, except buying?21

Von Busch subscribes to Ranciere’s view of aesthetics as “what is sensible to our senses, what our senses are trained to perceive.”22 This then is political as aesthetics is determined by class structure. For example, the bourgeoisie are trained aesthetically to opera while the lower classes are not. The idea of aesthetics is located very much in the political and social milieu, exactly where fashion itself plays out. Hacktivism is then a political intervention into the existing system of fashion in order to create new exclusivities, new relations for allowing fashion and design to be socially inclusive and politically just. 23 The potential for new political formations within fashion resurfaces in von Busch’s PLOT(S)25

projects, especially in his engagement with a process (shoe production) in fashion. Otto von Busch is building a new politics of fashion at the very heart of his practice, in keeping with the ideas of political theorist Chantal Mouffe. She writes, the political cannot be restricted to a certain type of institution, or envisaged as constituting a specific sphere or level of society. It must be conceived as a dimension that is inherent to every human society that determines our very ontological condition. Such a view of the political is profoundly at odds with liberal thought…this is particularly evident in its incomprehension of political movements, which is seen as the expression of the socalled ‘masses.’ Since they cannot be apprehended in individualistic terms, these movements are usually relegated to the pathological or deemed to be the expression of irrational forces.24

This idea of the individual as a political entity within fashion is an interesting approach to take to challenge social injustice. Von Busch’s workshops and research stem from the understanding that the way forward for a just society is through the creation of spaces in which voices of dissensus are aired and become valuable opportunities to challenge social inequity in fashion. Not only does von Busch address fashion’s proximity to the self, but he also re-examines the passivity that disallows fashion to be a vehicle of social change. Otto von Busch is in accord with Keshavarz and Maze, who explain dissensus as actively redistributing the sensible order, those participating in dissensus-oriented design could thereby also intervene in the political PLOT(S)26

order. An intervention, interruption or break in the realm of materiality and sensibility can thus institute a new aesthetical regime, other forms of politics to come.”25

In Markussen’s interview with Mouffe, she says, “For me, there is democracy as long as there is conflict, and if existing arrangements can be contested.”26 Hacktivism is articulated through spaces that contest the hierarchical systems of power in fashion. Although advocating that these spaces have the potential to make one fashion-able, they also promote the idea that dissensus can foster the creation of new ways of making, living and consuming. Von Busch supports the notion that situating oneself within a system to change it is beneficial to bringing fashion closer to society instead of it being locked into the “funnel of consumerism.”27 As Keshavarz and Maze argue, “…other approaches, such as those oriented around dissensus, could intervene within an existing or established sensible order.”28 Von Busch says: If power in fashion is still powerful in our society how can it address injustices? Or how can it address issues of power or exclusion? And the intervention itself is about finding the power of fashion and then re-circuiting it to address issues about society, about politics, about justice…critical issues of our time.29

DESIGN AS… What then does von Busch advocate as the role of the designer? He sees designers as expanding their roles within the fashion discipline. He argues for an abandonment of the traditional method of fashion design that

positions the designer as creator only for the elite circles. He asks designers to act as translators who disseminate design knowledge to consumers, facilitate workshops and events that remodel the social and political relations as well as reappropriate systems of fashion production through making.

as his idea of hacktivism. The emphasis is a re-examination of how we can start to be socially, ethically and humanely just – as von Busch himself writes, “Turn passive believers into engaged users; leave no hands idle.”31 References can be found on page 70.

He believes that traditional practice of fashion has to be changed to make for new ways for fashion to interact with all levels of society. He says of traditional design that, It is extremely narrow. I think we really need to challenge that and find other ways for fashion designers to help people with their dressed identity than what we are doing right now. To me, design then is an expansion of what traditional fashion design is and how it can be applied in other things and what we can learn from other design disciplines in that sense.30

The beauty of von Busch’s practice is that it explores various ideas, disciplines and experiences and thus remains open ended. It can be approached from a variety of different angles and read in different lights. It picks up sociological ideas and drops them into the sphere of fashion practices. It highlights ideas of social sustainability and filters them through the gaps of consumerism. It delves into the realm of the mythical to extract ideas on materiality. It even resurfaces ideas on craft and making, and posits them into the contemporary scene of production and consumption. In this manner, von Busch builds his practice from a critical engagement and questioning of the dynamics of fashion, informing the current stream of its practices through non-traditional approaches to fashion such PLOT(S)27


THIS PROJECT DEALS WITH THE GENERATIVE QUALITY OF MURALS IN THEIR CONSTRUCTION, CONCEPTION, AND LIFESPAN. Focused primarily in Crown Heights, the media map collects a story of negotiations through painted images in the shared space of the street. I invite you to explore this proposition through the following three arguments: 1. Murals and ‘the production of space’ 2. Murals as sites of negotiation 3. Murals as subaltern histories (Note: To view the map and the accompanying media, visit

MURALS AND ‘THE PRODUCTION OF SPACE’ The third restoration of Brooklyn the Beautiful took place in the Summer of 2013 just outside the entrance to the Q train at Prospect Park. Over the course of nearly 6 months the artist Kwenci Jones and volunteers from the Crown Heights Youth PLOT(S)28

Collective labored on mounted scaffolding, transforming the weathered walls out in the hot sun. I became increasingly aware of the cascading effects on my perception of the space and of the adjacent streets. On Jones’ website, Muralopolis, the expressed mission of the project is to “Make art that makes a difference.” I am particularly interested in the part of that statement which suggests the generative capacity of the artifact: making art that makes. Muralopolis is an intentional act of sensory re-making: Murals are grandiose expressions of epic simplicity designed to stimulate the sense of sight into a visual dialogue with the cerebral. Murals may encapsulate time by recording history or project the future by conceptualizing idea.These painted images are effectual and can significantly influence human behavior. Murals are important in that they bring the art process into the public sphere. Large public mural projects typically take several

All images taken by Laura Wing.

months to complete, giving the local community a unique opportunity to appreciate, witness, and possibly participate in the project from start to finish. Murals can have a dramatic impact consciously or subconsciously on the sensory perception of the viewer. When they are added to areas where people live, play and work. It can be argued that the presence of large, public murals can be beneficial for everyone.1

This map aims to explore murals as acts of place-making and as “a way of constructing history itself, of inventing it, of fashioning novel versions of ‘what happened here.’”2 As the systemic problems of neighborhood violence and division cannot be “solved” through singular adjustments to public policy, the act of mural painting proposes an intriguing contribution and demonstration of action. No longer are the participants

(and, I would argue, all community members who bare witness to the act) victim to an alienating environment, the action becomes a relational tactic to create an alternative space in which the community members become subjects and establish a sense of ownership.3 Henri Lefebvre defines public space as a social construct; it is produced through the interplay of social relationships that by definition manifest themselves in space. Space is therefore both the condition and the product of social interaction.4 Accordingly, murals generate public space in that they are the site of social interactions that provide the conditions to construct relationships. Building on Lefebvre’s theory of public space as a condition and a product, community PLOT(S)29


organizations such as the Crown Heights Youth Collective, the Crow Hill Community Association, Project CURE, and the Crown Heights Mediation Center work to construct relationships around the act of mural painting (among myriad other activities) in order to, as Richard Green says in his oral history interview, “get people to talk to each other” and to recognize the value and history of their neighborhood. The organizations and the murals themselves work to empower participants and people who witness the process of the murals in the space of the neighborhood and to utilize the public art form to act as a function of communication. MURALS AS SITES OF NEGOTIATION For political theorist Hannah Arendt, the public realm is a space of appearances, a human artifact, and a product of human hands and minds. As such, “only when things can be seen by many in a variety of aspects without changing their identity, so that those who are gathered around them know they see sameness in utter diversity, can worldly reality truly and reliably appear.”5 This suggests that the public realm must be transcendental and constructed through equals who are different. This provides a useful framework when considering the murals in Crown Heights and their ability to produce a space for public discourse wherein “those who are gathered around them know PLOT(S)30

they see sameness in utter diversity.”6 To illustrate the way that murals can serve as a fulcrum or junction dependent on what Margaret Crawford refers to as the “right to difference”7 we will look at an incident that happened shortly after the Crown Heights Riots. In 1992 a mural titled “Unity Wall” depicting scenes from Noah’s Ark, interracial cooperation, and black and Jewish cultural symbols, was painted on the exterior of a building at President and Utica streets. The mural was intended as a gesture of understanding and peace. It was conceived after racial disturbances occured throughout the Brooklyn neighborhood after a car driven by a Hasidic man struck and killed a 7-year-old black child, Gavin Cato, near the intersection where the mural was later painted. There had been an undercurrent of tension in the neighborhood and community leaders said that the defacement of the wall demonstrated the need for further communication to heal deep divisions. As reported in the New York Times after the incident: David Lazerson, a Hasidic Jew who heads the youth group Project CURE (communications, understanding, respect and education), called the defacement a learning experience: I think the problem was we jumped

ahead to step three or four in doing the mural. For that part of Crown Heights it was premature because we haven’t built up that basis of trust and communication. I’ve been out there every day and night with the youth on the corner. They said we want to do constructive things together but we need to meet face to face. We’re going back to scratch,” said Richard Green, the head of the Crown Heights Youth Collective and a key organizer in the effort to unite blacks and Jews. “We’re putting up a landscape that is neutral; apolitical, asocial, a-everything. I also talked to people about the rhetoric that has been flying…. Whoever did it, it was very stupid and mean,” said Shimeon Kaplan, a 16-year-old student working on the wall. “But we’re not going to let crazy people destroy us. Jews and blacks will always live together. We’ve had the same trouble, we’ve been kicked out of the same places.8

As this incident demonstrates, the mural does not attempt to absolve difference; it functions to preserve the public space as a negotiation of difference in its imperfection. The difference provides a platform to support ways to maintain difference. Neither the Hasidic community nor the black community is required to change their identity, even in the presence of violence, conflict, or defacement. Each community must work to invent ways to find common ground, and in the instance of painting the mural, this can be to celebrate heterogeneity and the right to autonomy. MURALS AS SUBALTERN HISTORIES “There is no political power without control of the archive, if not memory. Effective democratization can always be measured by this essential criterion: the participation in and the access to the archive, its constitution, and its interpretation.”9 This project proposes a way of interpreting murals in the neighborhood of Crown Heights as a PLOT(S)31

demonstration of accessing the public archive through interpreting events publicly on the wall, thereby proposing additions to what constitutes the public memory of the neighborhood. After the Crown Heights Riots in 1991, the public identity of the neighborhood was enveloped in violence and racial tensions. Many of the murals catalogued in this map were created after the riots and work to celebrate the success of the neighborhood in establishing working relations and highlight myriad aspects of the place that had been overshadowed by violence, as discussed by Dellon Wilson in his oral history. The murals function to expand the neighborhoods identity of itself and act as a kind of monument to remind people in the neighborhood of the capability to demonstrate and declare a history of agency and pride. This collection of mural images attempts to display a constellation of physical artifacts PLOT(S)32

that function to expand the history of the neighborhood of Crown Heights. There are many murals throughout the neighborhood depicting Jackie Robinson and Ebbetts Field. As Richard Green states in his oral history interview, Ebbets Field is where Jackie Robinson broke into the major leagues. Ebetts field is very sacred grounds to America, Dr. King had a lot to do with change in America, but Jackie Robinson was the first catalyst for change, baseball was America’s pastime. The entire nation had to realize that they needed to integrate this major group of people.

Ebbetts Field is now a major housing complex where Green works with many youth who participate in the Crown Heights Youth Collective. Another depiction of community history was painted by a group of young women involved

with Groundswell Mural Project. As part of Groundswell’s Voices Her’d Visionaries program, a group of young women created “A New Day” through a series of discussions, writing, and art activities. Inspired by feminist history and leaders, the young women identified a mural theme of “Strong Women Build Safe Communities.” This theme is illustrated through ten figures, each of which represents an individual member of the mural team. Each wears a gown that depicts one of ten tenets of strong women building safe communities. The tenets are: (1) high literacy and good schools; (2) involvement in and critical consumption of the media; (3) involvement in politics; (4) financial independence; (5) high employment and career alternatives; (6) parental supervision and involvement; (7) healthy bodies and foods; (8) honoring the ancestors; (9) afterschool programs; and (10) clean and liveable streets.10

stories of the neighborhood that may have gone unheard. References can be found on page 72.

In The System of Objects Jean Baudrillard challenges the limits of structural analysis of the object, in questioning what might be learned from thinking about …how objects are experienced, what needs other than functional ones they answer, what mental structures are interwoven with—and contradict— their functional structures, or what cultural, infrastructural or transcultural system underpins their directly experienced everydayness.11

Thinking about the capability of the object of the mural, we might consider what can be learned about public agency from the mural as object in its contribution to and dissemination of history in the city. The everydayness of the object in its location and the sense of embedded time function to construct alternative voices and act to propose ways to provide access to PLOT(S)33

Muscle, Skin, and Circuit Boards By Rachel Meade Smith

ALONZO KING’S CONSTELLATION, PERFORMED BY HIS LINES BALLET COMPANY, IS BILLED AS A COLLABORATION BETWEEN KING, THE ESTEEMED CHOREOGRAPHER, AND JIM CAMPBELL, AN INTERACTIVE MEDIA ARTIST AND GRADUATE FROM MIT’S SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING. First performed in 2012, the production offers the stage as a platform for questioning the role of the human body in the age of digital excess and an unknown technological future. The work is not King’s first foray into high-impact, architecturally brazen stage design; his 2011 Triangle of the Squinches, a collaboration with architect Christopher Haas, was choreographed around large structures of elastic cording and cardboard that dominated the stage. But Constellation’s pairing of the viscerally human and the patently artificial has more uncanny effects than his non-technified explorations of stagecraft. The program describes the performance’s intent as “exploring the orientation of our bodies to light,” but it PLOT(S)34

reads potently as a commentary on the congeniality of our mediated interactions. King’s dancers are outfitted sparingly. Muscle and skin are on full display; the effect, when paired with the dancers’ audible exhalations and the intermittent spray of sweat across the stage, is an underscoring of the mess of human fleshliness. Campbell’s signature LED-bulb installations, with their inelegant low-tech aesthetic, confront this majesty of the human body. The bulb trope is presented throughout the performance on varying scales: a stranded curtain hangs across the entire rear of the stage; a square matrix drops from the upper limits and is played upon like a cargo net; a single strand is towed between two dancers; free-floating globes are tossed hacky sack-like amidst lithe limbs. The installations possess the capability to act independently of the dancers, as well: brightness, hue and cadence of illumination react to choreography and soundtrack, making

Image taken by Margo Moritz.

the lights tools for visualizing both narrative and emotion, in addition to altering the stage’s spatial composition. Throughout the piece, Campbell’s technology appears increasingly unsympathetic to the work of the dancer. The performance’s most interesting moments—while not its most graceful— are those in which the dancers’ interactions are aggressively mediated by Campbell’s installations. In one climactic instance, three dancers trap another, cowering, beneath the glow of handheld computerized circuit boards whose downward radius of digital light obscures the swarm’s heads while illuminating and shrinking the space in which the confined dancer can move. The dancers tasked with hoisting the gadgets—clunky, infrastructural, and utterly inhuman—can’t help but look awkward, like they have been forced to

participate in the ritual of an alien world. The scene encapsulates the affective power of a collaboration between choreography and engineering; it is this clash of flesh and circuitry, of primitive and futuristic, that designates Constellation a performance of critical value.



IN A WORLD OF RAPID CHANGE, TECHNOLOGICAL GADGETS AND GLOBAL INFORMATION FLOWS MEDIATE ALL SOCIAL RELATIONS. The immediacy of live feeds around the world and the connectedness of the citizens of the world make it challenging to keep up with a restless landscape. Because of these changes of how we, as humans, interact with one another and our world, the generations to come need to learn flexible ways of thinking that enable them to organically, and creatively, adapt to ever-changing, unforeseen, conditions; ways of thinking that strive to foster design-able, resilient minds. Creative capabilities are part of the blueprint of human evolution; we need to harness the extraordinary capacities we have to be innovators. Designer and educator Victor Papanek described design[ing] as a ubiquitous activity of everyday life, and saw a designer in every human being. An adaptation mechanism that nurtures new ways of thinking—and helps us survive in PLOT(S)36

changing conditions when encountering new situations—is the ability of the human brain to rewire itself through experience; a process known as brain plasticity or neuroplasticity. This concept of “re-wiring” the brain in a neural level is the foundation of learning and memory; learning could not be possible if the brain was fixed at birth.1 However, in the midst of the 21st Century, education is still concerned with the transmission of information, giving the most value to information retention. Creative capacities are lost when children, in the process of being educated both in the home and at school, are encouraged to memorize over thinking, to mimic and to follow directions over searching for their own answers. In adulthood, vocational education aims to re-teach students some of the capacities they once had, and lost. Society’s obsession with giving value to certain talents instead of encouraging all kinds of innate capacities hinders the learning experience in educational institutions.

This disruption in educational systems is discussed by Ken Robinson in his book Out of Our Minds as a process that “educates” children to “unlearn” capacities, and then tries to make them “relearn” narrower, more specialized abilities once in adulthood. Instead, he upholds that we are in need of new models of education that consider the learner’s attitudes and aptitudes.2 British design researcher, Nigel Cross, argues that design cannot be reduced to vocational education and should, ultimately, become part of all forms of education, next to the sciences and the humanities.3 In support of his view, studies conducted in Japanese, Hungarian, and Netherland schools have shown that when exposed to visual and performing arts, the brain tends to create more and stronger neural connections, enhancing divergent thinking, creativity, and problem-solving in real-world situations. In order to enhance brain capacities and flexible thinking and achieve one’s full potential through thinking and acting, neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, and design[ing] need to become the core of educational systems: neuroscience as the basis to understanding human capacities, and design[ing] as the means by which to practice and develop such innate capacities. We need to expand our understanding of the learning brain: how it thinks, produces, stores, and retrieves knowledge. Education is based on systems of bribes and extrinsic rewards, which sometimes are based on mistaken ideas about motivation; these include grades, gold stars, scholarships, and praise. Power relations of extrinsic motivations lower performance

because they subdue intrinsic motivation, and personal drive. Alfie Kohn, in his book Punishment by Rewards discusses the idea that the chances for learning diminish when the learning experience is motivated by extrinsic rewards. In order to avoid narrowness and homogeneity in educational systems, education has to embrace a holistic approach that primers next generation of thinkers, creators, pioneers, and innovators—citizens able to envision, and build, better futures for humanity; in creating what American sociologist and scientist Herbert Simon called “preferred situations.” Intrinsic motivation and personal satisfaction, over extrinsic rewards such as money, grades, and other forms of social validation, is what Kelly McGonigal, author of The Willpower Instinct, calls willpower, grit, and resilience. Exploration and play are basic triggers of intrinsic motivation that should be embraced in education. Instead of fear of being tested or graded, self-knowledge, sense of autonomy and achievement, and a sense of purpose are the best motivators. The nucleus accumbens—located in the basal forebrain—is an important structure involved in pleasure, including laughter, reinforcement learning, and reward. It is also involved in fear, aggression, addiction, and impulsivity when negative emotions arise. In the learning process, teachers need to transform from “depositor, prescriber, domesticator”4 to moderators, advisors, collaborators, and move away from an education that perpetuates social conformity, PLOT(S)37

and power relations evident in both public and private life. The role of educators must be to nurture innate capacities that keep developing through life as opposed to educating us out of our capacities through general education in order to re-educate us later in life, in fragmented chunks, through vocational education. Teachers need to strive to become a new breed of neurodesigner-educators. Furthermore, we need to rethink education for the 21st century as the means by which to stimulate all types of intelligences—cognitive styles—to enhance innate capabilities for resilience. We must acknowledge intelligences as independent from “what it is known;” as interactive, everchanging, and adaptive cognitive processes that involve sensory stimuli (information input), brain interactivity (learning), and bodily movements (behaviors/actions). In addition, education needs to embrace design[ing] (design ability) as an innate form of intelligence.5 Imagination, creativity and independent thinking have to become the academic backbone that uses design[ing]6 as a way to stimulate brain circuits engaged in learning. This project aims to re-think general education through the lens of neuroscience and cognitive science as a way to develop new, open-ended, cognitive-flexible processes that propel students’ creative capacities in everyday life. Organic ways of absorbing and processing knowledge— osmotic learning7—facilitate creative insight, the Aha! moments, of everyday creativity through self-discovery and serendipitous thinking; osmotic learning harnesses design-able, resilient minds. My proposition is to create a transitionalPLOT(S)38

learning space—the Osmotic Bubble—that enables osmotic learning by dint of adapting an amalgam of practices from progressive education, Design Thinking, and Critical Design, in combination with multisensory stimuli. Sensory input, emotions, memory, automatic systems, and left-right brain functions are some of the brain circuits that I have taken into account; the sensory cortex receives first input from the outside world in form of vision, hearing, touch, position, smell, and taste.8 I see transitional-learning spaces as places for play, creative insight, and self-discovery, driven by inner processes—like intuition, willpower, and positive emotion—that take us closer to becoming part of the world ecologies by achieving balance with our natural, social, and material world. It is important to clarify that in this context, “us” means the human race, the citizens of the world. The Osmotic Bubble could potentially provide conditions that enhance the brain’s innate capacities through a new form of pedagogy that takes into account both curricula and the built space of instruction. The image in Figure 1 is a concept map that visually explains the elements involved in achieving the goals of my project. A New Paradigm Shift for Education: NATURE+DESIGN[ING]= RESILIENT MINDS Traditional, non-constructivist or existentialist,9 education focuses on teaching a set of skills by delivering information that is then memorized by students. Because of the overfocus on information that can easily become obsolete—such as technical skills—we are

Figure 1: Osmotic Bubble approach.

depriving our students from developing their natural abilities, the human capacities that have been enhanced through evolutionary processes.The current state of the so called “Information Age” puts the highest value on information retention over understanding and thinking. It is based on a pyramid structure of authority and control—the teacher as the authoritative figure who controls the type of knowledge to be learned. Also, the obtained knowledge lives outside the student: in books, television, the Internet, and the teacher’s own knowledge—an illdefined interaction that weakens students’ self-confidence. This type of teaching focuses on back cortex functions—temporal and occipital lobes—which are involved in information processing and integration in memory circuits. This approach is problematic because it stimulates areas of the brain involved in processing information

disregarding other systems also important to learning, such as emotion, reasoning, planning and problem-solving and stimuli perception, located in the front cortex— frontal and parietal lobes. In the frontal cortex information is analyzed, and applied to new situations. Also, an existentialist education does not engage all types of cognitive styles,10 in the sense that students who are more creative, more reflective, or lack a good memory, would not experience an optimal learning experience. Conversely, constructivist or non essentialist, models of progressive education, allow students to be in control of their learning experience and of the type of knowledge they acquire. It enables students to develop capacities that encourage them to design their own life as global citizens of society. It is democratic, and encourages students to break free from habits into creative thinking and emotional regulation. In these systems PLOT(S)39

the teacher is a moderator that interjects from time to time when questions arise but cannot impose their knowledge, and the learned knowledge comes from real-life experiences. To a certain extent, progressive education—especially the student-centered instruction of learning through guided play used in Montessori School and City and Country, and John Dewey’s Laboratory of learning from real-world experience—aims to involve both the back and front cortex: students strengthen their capacities in analyzing, processing and understanding, in a relaxed environment that promotes positive emotions through play. Still, these models are not deeply tapping on other brain systems involved in optimal learning, such as the sensory (sensing stimuli) and the motor cortex (moving and acting). Some contemporary models of design schools, such as the curricula of the Stanford and M.I.T Lab, illustrate the process of re-learning capacities, in the ways in which the Design Thinking model is at the core of instruction. Design Thinking is a problemsolving method that encourages collaboration amongst disciplines outside design as a way to propel robust ties between designers, consumers, and services. By concentrating on the front cortex, this type of instruction is a solution-based thinking that expands on developing divergent over convergent thinking. However, this systematic approach of “define, research, ideation, prototype, choose, implement, learn,” although open to iterations and exploration, locks students into looking at problems narrowly, based on learned formulas and behavioral patterns, which hinders cognitive flexibility—the ability to see, and adapt, to situations in multiple ways. PLOT(S)40

Contemporary learning theories, such as the Bilateral Brain, Reber’s 1993 Transformative Learning Theory, and Epstein’s 1994 Cognitive Unconscious Theory, have shown that unconscious cognitive processes are more robust and resilient than explicit cognitive processes because they resist neurological and psychological injuries that affect conscious processes.11 The robustness of implicit cognition is stimulated by the environment, and is highly efficient in that it requires fewer attentional resources and awareness. New educational models based on scientific discoveries—such as brain-based teaching, the neuro-educators movement, and Understanding by Design—are gaining recognition in curricula. For instance, Understanding by Design has a template called Neurological Lesson Planner12 where executive functions are listed and promoted (making judgment, supporting opinion, analyzing source validity) as a way to activate higher cognitive levels. In order to approach problems creatively, situations need to be reframed; creative thinking is about seeing the problem anew, unlearning what we belief as true, in order to retrieve different types of tacit knowledge stored in memory circuits. The 2000 Nobel prize winner, Eric Kandel, in his book The Age of Insight, argues that, in order for creative insight to happen, the brain needs to integrate information unconsciously, at certain rates, in specific parts of the brain. Subsequently, the Aha! moment is the result of right/left brain consensus, when in a process of conscious and unconscious feedback loops—of transitional spaces—

what psychologist D. W. Winnicott refers to as the inner (unconscious) and outer (conscious) spaces of human experience.13 Also, Gazzaniga and Sperry’s studies on patients with split-brain surgery (calloscotomy) —when the neural fibers that connect left-and right hemispheres, called corpus callosum, are removed—have demonstrated the importance for right and left brain consensus.14 Even though each hemisphere has specific functions, they need to be in constant communication in order to function efficiently and be able to perceive and act in the world. The amygdala—in charge of processing emotion—is also involved in implicit processes, including learning and the “working memory;” fear of failure dismisses creative insight.15 Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says that positive emotions expand our way of thinking and learning, enhancing information retention and creative thinking, while negative emotions hinder them due to an extreme focus on external stimuli, such as being evaluated, or being afraid of the consequences of failure. In studies of creativity conducted by psychologist and educator Teresa Amabile, participants who were unaware of being tested, proved to be more creative since they were playing instead of being concerned with external judgment or rewards.16 From studies of hypnosis and yoga, German psychiatrist Johannes Schultz developed during the 1920’s a system of self-induced states called autogenic training, which is based on repeatedly practicing control over bodily functions such as heartbeat. After daily practice during several weeks, the result PLOT(S)41

was a gained ability to go into a deep relaxation state at will. Autogenic training is similar to concepts of self-regulation using bio-feedback, and self-submerged therapy. Researchers at Leiden University in the Netherlands found that focusedattention meditation did not help creativity but open-monitoring meditation performed better in ideation.17 American journalist Jonah Lehrer explains creative insight—those Aha! moments of creative enlightenment—as a combination of idea incubation, tacit knowledge, relaxation, positive emotions, and defocus—below consciousness—attention.18 EEG technology can be used to trace the moment of insight eight seconds before it happens, which has been found to be the moment when the brain reaches alpha waves.19 When in alpha waves, the attention goes inwards, allowing the person to access tacit knowledge stored in the long-term memory and retrieve collected content; when too focused, the attention goes outwards, and the mind concentrates too much on finding the correct solution to win an external reward, rather than exploring possibilities without external stressors. The Osmotic Bubble: A TRANSITIONAL-LEARNING SPACE FOR SERENDIPITOUS THINKING Using the idea of a bubble-like structure as a new classroom space, the Osmotic Bubble20 is envisioned as a multisensory, shared space that enables retreat from the constant, outside, information overflow of modern life. In developing the Osmotic Bubble, I seek to deliver an implicit learning experience of unconscious PLOT(S)41

absorption and knowledge production— osmotic learning—through play, positive emotions, self-regulation, and sensory stimuli as a way to reach optimal learning. Consequently, osmotic learning will enable the production, absorption, and retrieval of tacit—unspoken, implicit—knowledge, which has been proven to be more resilient than explicit knowledge. The desired outcome is a new pedagogy— in the form of curricula, and a multisensory built-space of instruction—that harnesses innate capacities and propels creative insight, using design[ing] to stimulate the whole brain for self-regulation, positive emotions, and intuition; a pedagogy that educators of all age groups, regardless of specific disciplines, can adapt to their instruction in order to enhance human innate capacities. “Enhanced capacities of creative insight” are measured by the amount and quality of creative insight shown in the work that students produce. In a pilot study that I conducted with a small sample of 17 sophomores in an art and design school, results showed that PLOT(S)42

certain students, because of their specific cognitive style (right-left hemisphericity) were influenced by implicit (indirect) instruction more than the traditional, explicit instruction. Since assessment of the effectiveness of implicit learning in terms of acquired-tacit knowledge is difficult to make explicit, I used a battery of psychological self-report tests: Zenheusern’s hemisphericity, Higgin’s self-regulation, and Runco’s divergent thinking figures.21 I invited two design practitioners and educators to analyze the work produced during an in-class exercise, as a way to assess the quality of the productions created before (baseline) and after (priming) to different teaching styles: implicit learning, and traditional (explicit) instruction. Results showed that implicit instruction has an effect in certain cognitive styles. An interesting pattern arose from the data, in terms of faculty assessment, with a high level of disagreement in most ratings. However, further research is needed in order to get conclusive evidence. Although participants of current experiments are design students,


in a larger scale, I believe that the indirect, osmotic learning, would be most effective at an early age—between 3 and 4 years old— when children have yet to learn cultural beliefs, and instead thrive on self-belief. I have started research with design students because of accessibility, and also because creative personalities have many similarities to children’s personalities: they have a fertile imagination, are impulsive, risktakers, and dreamers. The major objective of my study is to reshape the learning experience in two levels: 1. Content: to deconstruct the creative process by developing game-like exercises that combine physical movements in space while mentally tackling everyday/ design problems in order to connect the least evolved, instinctual—Reptilian— brain linked to motor skills, which works on an unconscious level, with the more evolved, rational—Neocortex—brain, which acts on a conscious level­—what we could compare to the brainstorming and mapping part of the creative process.

The Exquisite Corpse exercise of handdrawn sketching and pictorial mindmaps will allow students to share pre-verbal ideas while prototyping and testing will be a process of individual, introspective, exploration. The idea of “thinking by moving” is discussed by Robinson in his book The Element,22 in which he shares the story of British ballerina, dancer, actor, and theatre director, Gillian Lin. At age 8, during the 1930s, Gillian was thought to have a learning disability but instead she just had a different approach to learning: she needed to “move to think;” she is the renowned choreographer of Cats and Phantom of the Opera. 2. Form: Redesigning the traditional studio-classroom setting into a transitional space—the in-between, exploratory, space of inner/unconscious and outer/ conscious self, that enables students to augment brain capacities and develop cognitive flexibility hence maximizing Aha! moments of creative insight. An important aspect of these two components—the act of play in a relaxing atmosphere—is the

Figure 2: Analysis of educational models applied to the Osmotic Bubble.

ability to engage the Limbic System—also known as the primitive, Mammalian or MidBrain, responsible for processing emotions, as a way to contrive homeostatic emotions—attention-demanding feelings that motivate behavior and maintain the body’s internal state—modulated by the ventral anterior cingulate cortex. Neurofeedback technologies, which are real time, self-regulation systems (i.e., wireless electroencephalography or EEG) will be used to track electrical activity in students’ brains as a way to both collect neural field potential data and provide feedback for selfregulating the environment of the Osmotic Bubble space (e.g., change of light intensity and wavelength, temperature, sound, etc.) The concept map shown above (Figure 2) serves as a visual representation of the different practices that I have integrated from other educational models in the conceptual development of the Osmotic Bubble. PLOT(S)44

The educational models mapped above, although effective in engaging students with intrinsic motivations, use classroom spaces as containers with no agency, as opposed to acknowledging the space of instruction as a mediator of the learning experience; spaces where the interactions of students with—instead of in—the space, and amongst themselves, becomes an igniting element to achieve one’s full potential. In transforming the traditional classroom into space with agency while deconstructing the design process through forms of play inside a space that propels self-discovery and serendipitous thinking. Drawing inspiration from the structure of interlocked, translucent, and temporal soap bubbles—the structure of the Osmotic Bubble is created by multiple, interconnected, chambers of various sizes, which I refer to as synchronized atmospheres,23 constructed in an array of

translucent materials that provide various stimuli—textures, smells, augmented or canceled sound—and enable visual projections on the walls; it is a multisensory, shared, space of retreat from the constant, outside, information overflow of modern life. Chambers are semi-transparent circles, created using specific bendable materials that provide texture, detach scent, and modulate sound. I have envisioned the Osmotic Bubble as a modular structure, easy to assemble and dismantled, that can be stored, laid flat, to be transported, relocated and assembled again in a new location. Two hundred chambers will be designed with brain games printed on surfaces, and specific physical qualities; because of its modularity, the Osmotic Bubble could be made of different amounts of chambers depending on the amount, and age, of students participating, and space availability, between twelve and two hundred chambers. By means of integrating multi-sensory elements, different kinds of perceiving and experiencing the space will develop various ways of knowing and help produced different types of knowledge24 that speak to an array of cognitive styles and personalities. The aim of the space is to stimulate students’ whole brain—left and right brain equally, in both conscious and unconscious levels—in order to augment their innovative thinking. The space will engage students in both implicit (through the stimuli) and explicit (through the curricula) learning. In combination with psychological assessment, and the use of a computerized motion tracker device, patterns of movements can be analyzed to find the level of engagement and interaction

students engage in when in the space; how much collaboration happens intuitively; how much time students spend solving situations in isolation. Motion tracking will help make adjustments to the Osmotic Bubble, both in terms of the space and the curricula. Ideally this new pedagogy will be used in all levels of everyday instruction, on both general and vocational education. Also, in stage three of the project, Ruth Richards’ Lifetime Creative Scales (LCS) will measure students’ capacity for everyday creativity, once acting outside of the Osmotic Bubble. Creating Preferred Situations: IMAGINING A FUTURE OF ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES Neuroeducation is a contemporary teaching and learning theory that uses premise research from neuroscience and psychology at the core of instruction. President Obama’s BRAIN initiative (acronym for Brain Research for Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) opens up new possibilities, not only for scientists in the quest of answers but also for educators in general. In the words of president Obama: …there is this enormous mystery waiting to be unlocked, and the BRAIN initiative will change that by giving scientists the tools they need to get a dynamic picture of the brain in action and better understand how we think and how we learn and how we remember. And that knowledge could be—will be—transformative.25

The president proposed 100 million dollars for what he called “the next great American project.”26 This is the time for design to make itself present and reassure the profession as one as valuable as the sciences, as a valuable PLOT(S)45

asset in the creation of a better world. The Learning and the Brain Society embraces collaboration amongst neuroscientists and educators—and calls both disciplines to join forces in the quest for better education practices; the neuroeducators have been called to the front. Today, the social pressures for highacademic performance, and professional success have led to the illegal consumption and abuse of amphetamine salts-based psycho-stimulants. These medications, currently used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy—such as Adderall and Ritalin—are highly consumed amongst college students looking to gain focused attention, work long hours, and retain more information for short periods of time in order to have higher performance in tests. We need a radical change in education, a new paradigm that strives for the expansion of minds beyond grades, tests, and drugs. The Osmotic Bubble is not aiming to be an instrumental intervention to change behavior and capabilities by affecting the brain’s built systems but instead, it is a model for spaces of instruction that harness the brain’s innate capacities, while empowering students in being active participants, and co-creators, of their learning experience; a space sensitive to individual differences, and various cognitive styles. In order to stay away from artificial manipulation of brain’s chemistry through the use psychotropic drugs, the Osmotic Bubble stimulates the brain’s natural chemistry through a multisensory experience.


I hope that the Osmotic Bubble permeates traditional systems and becomes a ubiquitous and pervasive form of teaching and learning. References can be found on page 72.

Crime, Medellín, and Architecture from A to Z By Lindsay Reichart

“For some time now, if you asked architects and urban planners for proof of the power of public architec-ture and public space to remake the fortunes of a city, they’d point here.” Michael Kimelman, “A City Rises, Along with its Hopes,” The New York Times, 2012.


Architectural history in the Western world has been predominantly occupied with a few cultures that compose only a fraction of the earth.1 20th century philosophers and architects such as Michel de Certeau, Henri Lefebvre, Robert Venturi, and Bernard Rudofsky, among others, have changed the landscape of architectural theory, making the vernacular relevant. Incorporating democratic ideals, architects are using their craft as a tool to shape the way marginalized people live, thus changing the urban ecology. This abecedary takes us in and out of the streets of Medellín, Colombia, where we can see this craft at work, creating an architectural response that is changing the social climate of the country.


A buoy is a floating object that is anchored at a certain point; it can mark submerged dangers or indicate safe passage. Despite its ever-changing environment, the buoy is a constant. Although

there has never been a shortage of public space in Medellín, this space was not viewed as a safe place for the people. Once seen as dangerous and unstable, public space is now being accounted for by public architecture as a stable environment that reaches out to the community, providing inspiration and a safe haven for the people of Medellín.


Officially “The Republic of Colombia,” is located in the Northwest region of South America, and is about twice the size of France.2 It is bordered by Panama to the northwest, Venezuela and Brazil to the east, and Peru and Ecuador to the South. Colombia is the only nation of the Americas named after Christo-pher Columbus.3 The country strongly reflects its past as a colony of Spain, and is thought to be one of the most Roman Catholic countries in South America.4 In 1835, Colombia gained independence from Spain, which, in turn, left the country floundering.5


In 1904, Rafael Reyes took office as a military ruler hailing from the Conservative party.6 Although Reyes improved the Colombian economy and transportation system, he ruled as a dictator, dissolving congress, declaring martial law, and exiling all political opponents.7 Infuriating the Colombian people, Reyes stepped down in 8 1909. A series of unstable rulers continued to PLOT(S)47

Image courtesy of EMBARQ Brasil.

take office and more violence ensued, leaving 400,000 people dead over a 40-year period.9 Disillusioned by the lack of progress under the supposedly democratic National Front party and authoritarian regimes, the Colombian people elected Gustavo Rojas Pinilla to office in 1953.10 The corrupt dictator was then forced into exile in 1957 by both parties.11 Military and guerrilla groups, along with violence, would continue to plague the country as the drug trade boomed throughout the 20th century.


In 2000, the United States began a controversial aid initiative that supported Colombia with military services in an attempt to control the cocaine trade.12 In 2002, Alvaro Uribe Velez, an independent, was elected president on the promise that he would bring an end to the violence.13 The government and the guerrilla groups engaged in peace negotiations, and the violent regimes of Colombia began to dissipate. Now, Colombia is slowly bringing life to the democratic processadvancing “towards democratic security and towards democratic prosperity”.14


“It was a strange feeling posing for a picture with one of the world’s most notorious criminals. A vacant stare on Roberto Escobar’s face, his arm draped over PLOT(S)48

my shoulder, inspired conflicting feelings, equal parts excitement and disgust.” 15 Rising from a lowly smuggler to the top commander of the cocaine industry, Pablo Escobar’s story begins in the slums of Medellín, where he was born and raised. By the age of 30 he was moving 35 kilos of cocaine a month out of the shantytown.16 Shortly thereafter, ‘Don Pablo’ took over a Medellín newspaper and successfully ran for public office, becoming mayor. He took on community initiatives from building houses for the poor to building a zoo. Medellín was Escobar, and Escobar was Medellín—until December 2, 1993 when he killed himself in the midst of a firefight with authorities.17 Scores of people were left dead by Escobar’s influence but 25,000 people were present for his funeral, deliberately overlooking his past as a drug trafficker, smuggler, assassin, narco-terrorist, murderer, money launderer, and corrupt politician.18


A 1,260-foot escalator ascends through one of the poorest and most violent urban communities on the hillside of Medellín.19 It symbolizes the accumulation of capital, technological advancement and the large scale renewal projects taking hold of the city. The sheen of the metal escalator contrasts with the dilapidated structures that surround

Image courtesy of Latitud Taller de Arquitectura y Ciudad.

it—promising revitalization, but forewarning the impending change the escalator will bring, as Medellín embraces the democratic individualism that capital is inevitably conflated with.


Recent mayor, Sergio Fajardo, the son of an architect, has pulled Medellín from the wreckage left by Escobar and the drug cartels. Fajardo, a mathematician turned civic servant, took office in 2004 when the city was plagued by violence created by the infamous drug cartels that called it home.20 “Drug trafficking was like a bomb that exploded in the country 30 years ago, and the epicenter was Medellín,” recalls Fajardo, insisting that the inequality between the rich and poor fueled this fire despite the lip-service the cartels paid to the people.21 A highly educated man himself, Fajardo found the answer to Medellín’s problems in academia. Fajardo has promoted the construction of beautiful public buildings in rundown neighborhoods, attacking the social decomposition brought on by the drug cartels, and restoring a sense of civic pride. Now, Fajardo is preparing for the 2014 presidential election, and he will attempt to carry these values with him to the Palacio de Nariño.


“The measure of a government is whether it helps

create prosperity for the many, security for all, and a better world for our children.”22 Fajardo is not alone in these plans, nor is he the only visionary Medellín has to offer. Planning guidelines, initiatives and anti-terrorism programs such as Plan Colombia and MOVICE (Movimiento de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado) are being enacted through architecture as a safe and effective interventions to rehabilitate Colombia’s past.23 Medellín’s current mayor, Anibal Gaviria, has endless infrastructural and architectural dreams, from an electric tram along the hillsides to a greenbelt of public buildings along the river.24 These public-minded improvements are meeting Medellín’s demands for rehabilitation.


“Medellín’s Makeover: From Drug Trafficking Haven to Award Winning Place of Smart Urban Design” 25


In Medellín, urban planners have focused on infrastructure as a tool to tackle larger issues within the urban ecology. The state-owned Empresas Públicas de Medellín(E.P.M.) supplies water, gas, sanitation, telecommunications and electricity to the epicenter of the city, and is mandated to provide these same services to the vast illegal shantytowns on the outskirts as well.26 PLOT(S)49

Image courtesy of David Puerta.

This provides a safety net unique to Medellín— unheard of in Colombia’s other cities such as Bogota.27 The E.P.M. has been critical to the development of the city as a whole, redistributing their roughly $450 million dollars in profit a year from the city center towards building schools, public plazas, transportation and parks from the center to the outskirts of Medellín.28 The private and the public have been unified under the umbrella of E.P.M., critically changing the social climate of Medellín for the better.


What is the key to Medellín’s success? The city’s transformation has proven to be a derivative of the interdependence of the built environment and the socioeconomic ecology—realiziation that the rich neighbor-hoods are not independent from the barrios, and that education is not independent from the drug cartels. New libraries and gardens are installed within the violent spaces of Medellín’s past, providing safe alternatives and outlets for the people. By recognizing the importance of the connections between the use of space and social actions, violence has been reduced drastically.


“The Medellín Jardín Botánico is a breathtaking example of public architecture. Completed in 2005 PLOT(S)50

by the local practice Plan B Architects, the garden complex houses a science museum, aquarium, and the Orquideorama: a wood and steel canopy whose structure reflects that of an orchid—the very plant it is used to grow.”29 Each structure has a relationship to one another and to the street. This relationship has been critical in bringing life back to the street as a safe place for pedestrians and retailers ala Jane Jacobs who brought awareness to the importance of the relationship between street presence and safety.30


Knolls, small hills, dot the botanical garden— each a small part of the larger hilly landscape of Medellín. This relationship can be read as a metaphor for Medellín’s development of smaller urban projects at a neighborhood scale to illuminate the urban fabric of the city in its entirety.


Medellín’s new library, the León de Greiff Library on la Ladera (the hillside), has become the center for social change in the city. The trio of buildings fan across the hill, overlooking Medellín and encouraging conversation among citizens, as well as educational and recreational activity and the development of an understanding of the digital

Image courtesy of Courtesy of Brian Pedro Reyes.

culture amidst the hills of the Medellín slums.31 Libraries have been a major focus of urban planners in Colombia, with examples such as the four-million dollar España library. These structures not only function as community centers, but as tools for the development of the Medellín people with education.


One of the last buildings designed by Colombian architect Rogelio Salmona, the Moravia Cultural Development Center has promoted positive development through creative placemaking. The center provides a community space for music, art and cultural activities as a means for improving the quality of life. Here, the citizens of Medellín have the opportunity to sit in one of the 300 seats of the auditorium and watch a play, view one of the local art exhibitions, or use one of the 30 soundproof cubicles to hone in on their musical talents among gurgling fountains reminiscent of Colombia’s colonial past.32


“The Construction of [the] Orquideorama [is derived from] the relation between architecture and the living organisms. It should not make any distinction between natural and artificial, on the contrary, it should accept them as a unity that allows architecture to be conceived as a material, spatial, environmental organization that is deeply related to the processes of life.”33


“New Yorkers don’t hold hands; we just don’t do that outside. But you can see that happening on the High Line, and I think that’s the power that public space can have to transform how people experience their city.”34


We do not experience the world outside of our homes vacantly; we absorb a variety of ideas, opinions, and experiences from a seemingly fixed designed environment. However, these spaces are not fixed—they are constantly morphing due to the political and economic theories that permeate the surface materials. These experiences in the public space situate us in the world and give us the power to act politically: they can open our views, guide our experience, engage us or prevent us from engaging with the public ecology. The people of Medellín now have the opportunity to function in the public sphere as the fear of their drug ridden past dissipates.


In Medellín, architectural initiatives such as the escalator and library are eliminating the polarization that follows the core-periphery model. As prosperity has grown and continues to grow worldwide, core regions have gleaned PLOT(S)51

Image courtesy of Brian Pedro Reyes.

a majority of the profit and benefits. Despite the fact that there are fewer people functioning within the core (the wealthy), the population of the periphery (the poor) remains largely ignored. They are immersed within the slums and despite these less-than-savory conditions, the population of the periphery continues to grow without suitable resources. In Medellín, however, people are given the same access to water, electricity, gas and sanitation that one would receive in the city center. This support gives Medellín a certain advantage over the core-periphery model. Initiatives such as the escalator are inviting people into the city center and others out of the city center—and with future plans for a tramway along Medellín’s hillside, the lines between the core and periphery are becoming blurred, making the shantytown evermore present on the city stage as these shortcomings begin to be resolved.

of 912 in Cordoba, Spain, La Plaza de Toros La Macarena is surrounded by traditional horseshoe arches, each arch supported by a voussoir. These traditional architectural elements are over a thousand years old but they are still relevant today. The roof is now a retractable roof, and the plaza features pop concerts as well as bullfights. These traditional elements are not left in the past; rather, they are incorporated into Medellín’s present.


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead35 Jane Jacobs inspired the people of New York’s Greenwich Village to fight against the upsurge of neighborhood organization in the 1960s and ‘70s.36 Along with her fellow community members, Jacobs was able to beat back the encumbering politics to save their space, which was home to their work, play, family and community relations. The ‘blighted’ area prevailed against the razing proposed by the

Medellín has an extensive history with Spain as one of many colonial outposts. Although Colombia has since been emancipated, it retains many traditions and designs from the Spanish occupation. Opened in 1945, La Plaza de Toros La Macarena is one such place. The traditional Spanish bullfighting ring is used to celebrate a distinctly Andalusian tradition. Comparable to the Moorish Medina Azahara ruins PLOT(S)52


How do the citizens of Medellín view their colonial past? How do they view their more recent troubled independent past? What symbols will they continue to carry with them of this past? Do these symbols hinder or enrich the production of Medellín’s new identity?


city and continues to thrive in its characteristically West Village oddities, from misshapen blocks and oddly angled streets to examples of architecture from every decade over the last hundred years.37 Will the unique oddities of Medellín be able to survive the urban renewal process or will the “ambitious and photogenic” buildings overtake the informality of Medellín’s neighborhoods?38


York City that would be an unimaginable 32,000 murders a year.42


Today, the murder rate is 60 per 100,000—much lower, but still not even close to the 5.6 per 100,000 murder rate in New York City.


Despite the progressive developments that disregard the core-periphery model, Medellín still has its shortcomings, and social housing is one of them. New housing is being developed on the city’s periphery, isolating residents from the new amenities the city has to offer, as well as their livelihoods. Rather than detangling the housing mess left by Medellín’s past, developers are glazing over the city and building on the outskirts.39 Not only are these structures inconvenient, they are unsafely located next to a number of landfills.40

Xystum is an architectural term meaning alley. An alley is a narrow lane often designated for pedestrian use; however, in Medellín, the alley was formerly a haven for drug-lords and a space rife with violence and fear. Pedestrians could not use the streets for fear of being one of the casualties from the drug trade. Although skepticism lingers, the streets are more comfortable, people can linger and experience the essence of Medellín due to the innovations of a younger generation.43


43 percent of the world’s population is currently composed of people under 25, and 60 percent of people under 25 live in less developed countries.44 In Medellín a number of these young people are architects, and they have used their knowledge as power to instigate development and positive change for the future. In an effort to unite fragmented communities, laws were passed at the national level by President Alvaro Uribe to require that the majority of public buildings be proposed via competition.45 Due to the low budgets of these projects, many proposals are from young local architects looking to get their start.46 This initiative has mobilized the young architects of Colombia to change their urban landscape. JPRCR Architects and Plan B, both firms with principals under 30 and out of Medellín, won one of these competitions and developed the Orquideorama, a breathtakingly intricate structure previously mentioned in ‘JARDÍN BOTÁNICO’ and ‘ORQUIDEORAMA’. The Medellín Museum of Modern Art addition, by local firm Ctrl G, also led by principals under the age of 30, is another example of a major public project by local young architects.47 These projects bring hope to the Colombian population, promise for the future, and an appreciation for cultural institutions as a necessity for the community of Medellín.

“We’re still not thoughtful in terms of social housing [and] mixed neighborhoods”41


The tenuous design process is slowly revitalizing pockets of the landscape, developing a sense of trust, between the government and the people that was left unstable after Colombia’s tumultuous history. Areas that were once patrolled by militia and were too dangerous for the police, are now thriving with walkways lined by restaurants, clothing stores and schools, leading to major public projects such as the España Library. These large projects, among the smaller developments, act as a sign of the mutual yet tenuous transition the people and the government are making from fear to trust.


It is uncertain whether Colombia will be able to sustain this architectural renaissance inspired by democratic ideals or if it will be seduced by the promises of drug lords, guerilla groups and dictatorships yet again.



Just 20 years ago the annual murder rate in Medellín was 381 people per 100,000. In New PLOT(S)53


Colombia is now pursuing trade agreements abroad, with countries such as The United States, Japan, and China. In doing so, infrastructural improvements have become critical to the success of these trade agreements. As Colombia heals the wounds of decades of violence, the opportunities seem endless. Although the future is unknown, in the present, the manipulation of the spatial environment has been critical to subduing Colombia’s violent past. Not only can this method continue to change Medellín, it can provide a model for other spaces encumbered by a violent past. References can be found on page 73.


Design Capabilities in Public Governance Innovation By Jhen Yi Lin

IN OCTOBER OF 2013, CHRIS WORMALD, HEAD OF POLICY IN THE UK GOVERNMENT AND PERMANENT SECRETARY AT THE DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION, PUBLISHED A 12-POINT PLAN FOR BETTER POLICYMAKING. The plan proclaimed “If there’s one set of skills departments lack it’s not policymaking, it’s designing.”1 During the same month, the Public Policy Lab and the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Archiects jointly initiated the event Policy, Meet Design for ten designers and ten policy-makers to to begin a conversation facilitating mutual understanding between both groups.2 Government agencies from Singapore, Denmark, Australia and the European Union are all stepping into the conversation around how to best recognize design as a strategic tool to capable of driving necessary change within government. The goal is to implement human-centered innovations, thereby improving the quality of their citizens’ lives. PLOT(S)55

The complex social problems that public administration must deal with are inherently wicked, as it is nearly impossible to reach consensus in a pluralistic society.3 Additionally, the organizational systems in governments are ill-equipped to process and negotiate the demands of diverse constituencies. As a result, present governments operate within a cycle of inefficiency often leading to years of negotiations in order to reach consensus on issues both large and small.4 Moreover, internal organizational frameworks concerning process and personnel strategies do not necessarily provide motivation for employees to be innovative in their everyday work. Many scholars have studied how to motivate government employees through performance review questionnaires, peer evaluations, rewards and so on, but the core issue actually lies in the awareness of team spirit and cross-departmental collaboration. In addition, traditional leadership and the top-down decision-making process often block innovation. The natural tendency is PLOT(S)55

to observe and adjust behavior according to power. As a result, most employees in public organizations play it safe strategically instead of being creative. The latter have all been hurdles for public sectors’ transformation. So, where is the opportunity for design to help drive the necessary transformations within public governance? At first glance, one may say that the opportunity lies in inviting external partners like designers and design consultants to work with policy makers. However, in order to sustain the impact of design, the capabilities and values must be embedded within the individuals, the working process and the organizational structures. In a successful case of Australian Taxation Office (ATO), John Body implemented design methods and articulated how to embed design within organizational change using seven top-line principles and commitments, fifteen tools and techniques and three comprehensive design conferences to communicate how design can drive change.5 The topics ranged from ways to work with complexity to changing the way the ATO thinks about design and design capabilities, as well as the values of prototyping and the importance of user research. Two aspects of this implementation are of particular interest to me. The first is the process of negotiating and communicating a new design vision for the whole tax system, and the second is how it changed the everyday work processes of the employees of the ATO. Towards the end of this three-year implementation, it was concluded that the implementation of the design process relies heavily on the reception of internal staff, and less on the work of external consultants.


So what is design? Among a wide range of elaborations, one has captured that the essence is to view design as a continuous process of negotiating the trade-offs between different goals.6 In Philip Sargent’s paper, “Design Science or Non-science? A NonScientific Theory of Design,” he indicates that the process of design is meaningful and useful only in certain contexts. Nigel Cross identified “Design with a capital D” as “the collected experience of the material culture, and the collected body of experience, skill and understanding embodied in the arts of planning, inventing, making and doing.”7 Design capabilities deal with organization and planning of programming and scenarios; with mediating and attuning relations; with moving from existing to preferred situations via translation and reconfiguration; with bringing new things into the world via proposition and discovery. 8 Because we, as human beings, are living in a dynamic environment in which the scale of change is so enormous and networked, only government has the impact to drive towards a more positive direction collectively. In the public sector, design capabilities exist on different levels in order to drive organizational change. These capabilites should be paired with leadership to build upon values, purpose and regulations in order to function coherently in a political system. References can be found on page 74.

Out of Order By Rachel Meade Smith

ERIC’S APARTMENT ON AVENUE A WAS SUPPOSED TO BE HIS FIRST FORAY INTO SOVEREIGN LIVING. College and immediately post-college years were spent sharing small spaces with dirty roommates, or subletting spaces furnished with someone else’s wares. In 2012 he became, for the first time, the only name on a lease. A bright pre-war railroad on the 5th floor of a walkup, the apartment sits above a popular lunch joint and a rock and roll bar. Since then, Eric has hardly been the only one to call the apartment home; a cast of girlfriends, friends, and hefty mutts have come, gone, and occasionally left scars. The apartment has thus transformed from a veritable man-cave, to a zone of impromptu domesticity, and finally to a gallery of the process of change. Now a photographer, when I met Eric he was a San Diego transplant attending NYU on a volleyball scholarship and living in a dorm room. Since then, we have shared an assortment of loved ones, living rooms,

books, t-shirts, and furniture. The longer I know him, the longer I know his things. But we spend less time together now, and fewer things in his interior were once a part of my own. Inside his space are many objects I can trace from memory—familiar book spines (Vagabonding in America is a hard one to forget) and mounted prints taken from the inventory of “damaged goods” housed in the back of a gallery I once worked for. But there are more whose provenance and plot are foreign to me. Now, Eric’s apartment offers me both a comforting and dispiriting nostalgia: at once it avows the endurance of our friendship, and prompts me to wonder where and when our lives diverged. The apartment is Vedically blessed, with a generous supply of windows along its north side. Light streams in throughout the day, and faces few barriers inside. It travels freely through the long, narrow space whose divisions—bedroom, living room kitchen, office, and bathroom, in that order—proceed from one to the next on a straight trajectory. PLOT(S)57

Images taken by Eric Chakeen.

More alcoves than rooms, doorless thresholds section the sleeping, living, and eating spaces, so three people, standing oneper-room, might converse without raising their voices. Cordoned off behind a door in the kitchen are the office and bathroom, camouflaged as a closet. In the readily visible spaces, the collection of things reads like a poorly ordered archive. Here, time is discounted and the oldest artifact sidles up next to the newest; here, everything waits to be touched. An excess of antique tables and chairs, photographs (framed, unframed, Polaroid, large format, dynamic, discrete) and swarming Southwestern textiles beg for a nose to press up against them, for a finger to run across their grooves. But these aren’t the parental handme-downs that fill a starter apartment. This is the silt of almost a decade’s worth of highly active collective tendencies. The couch, a battered brown leather PLOT(S)58

behemoth, was brought down from Westchester in a rented truck—a lucky Craigslist find. The fabrics and rugs— mostly Navajo print, almost all with fringed edges—accumulated in the apartment while a girlfriend lived here, but are now a signature trope of the interior. I recognize the cashmere scarf hanging between the living and bedroom as payment I provided in exchange for some photographs. The bigger pieces were largely thrifted, and many are nicked and stained—vestiges of lives lived elsewhere. It’s hard to find anything at all that might have recently been new. The office and bathroom are the only spaces not visible from the apartment’s front door. As such, they have a perceptibly bonus quality. Their discovery is exciting, like finding there’s an extra pocket inside your coat. The office—really a generous term for this five-foot square—holds a desk, a small dresser, a clothing rack, a stack of

papers. The only space for movement is that which you walk through to reach the sinkless bathroom. A sitter at the desk is thus hemmed in on three sides, but offered a plentiful view through a sunny window. While the rest of the apartment invites communion, this space invites Eric, alone. Here are his clothes, the portrait of his mother, his laptop—the stuff of privacy, the stuff asking for quiet. Its aura–only slightly claustrophobic–is appropriately that of a cocoon. Some of his things found their first home in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, where Eric once shared two sprawling floors of a brownstone with a friend. The excess space had allowed his trove to thrive, and for two years he collected couches like he does cameras. The move back to Manhattan was a purge. Now his space holds only the intimate artifacts, the ones that speak. The apparent disarray is in fact the product of a careful

discernment, of the active attempt to include only the threads of the past worth remembering. Present here is still far more than necessary to live with, but the surplus feels appropriate, cozy—things cuddle. Corners and surfaces, of which there are many, do not sit bare. A wooden baseball bat peeks out from behind a radiator. Books are piled neatly on the floor beneath the living room window, and on the small dresser a few feet away. A cupboard in the office holds a stack of frames propped against each other like a 3-D collage, one enclosing a painting by an old friend, the other a Polaroid of a frowning Eric chumming with a smiley LeBron James. In the kitchen, a neat assemblage sits on the windowsill: a still life with three ceramic houses (once vessels for free booze on a flight to the Netherlands), a stone, and a pack of matches. Democratic in his dispersal, Eric has given every surface its due—even the lowliest of side tables is topped with a hastily folded swatch of cloth. All this filling-up creates an undeviating quality of warmth and noise. The other, more literal cause for this liveliness is Daisy, a 60-pound pitbull-mix navigating the racket of wood grains, objets trouvés, and Native American geometry. Her mass and detritus are interior elements as pronounced as any other. Where Daisy is not, traces of Daisy are. A ragged chew-toy sits in the middle of the kitchen floor, its dingy neon accented against the muted periwinkle rug; a bone lies beside the bed; a smattering of coarse golden hairs blight the dark linen cover of a coffee table book; a vintage chalkboard in the kitchen holds the faded memo “DAISY WAS HERE.” And the interior pervades to Daisy, as PLOT(S)59

well—her collar is a hardy strip of nylon with a familiar Navajo pattern. Almost the entire length of the apartment can be seen from the front door, but to know it one must know its little things. These details activate Eric’s photographs, wherein his interior is a recurring backdrop. His images are un-posed, ad-lib captures of the moments of the everyday, usually smacked with a cool pulse of artificial light. The apartment itself aids in these productions: its narrowness and excess of surface space means there are always at least three cameras within arm’s reach. Amply memorialized, the interior serves as the stage for the unrehearsed act of living. The pictures themselves ape the affect of the space: deliberate in their apparent chaos, roughhewn yet dynamically composed. It’s too bad Eric despises self-portraits—the materials and minutia of his home sketch him more vividly than he may care to acknowledge. PLOT(S)60

Images taken by Rachel M. Smith.

Taxonomy By Laura Wing

“A valuable characteristic of objective human knowledge (objective in the sense that it exists in the public domain) is that macrocosmic systems which are only fully comprehended by a few specialists are made known to ordinary citizens by means of microcosmic models.”1 - John Walker The London Underground Diagram “If communism vs. capitalism was the struggle of the 20th century, then control vs. freedom will be the debate of the 21st century. If our question then was how best to control, our question now will be come whether to control. What would a free resource give us that controlled resources don’t? What is the value in avoiding systems of control?”2 -Lawrence Lessig The Architecture of Innovation

or mental processes. Still, its definitive structures and revelatory capabilities exhibit a kind of emotive persuasion producing a kind of loyalty and gratitude from its viewer. Consider the diagrammatic form of the data visualization. The petabytes of data currently being generated across social, economic, and institutional platforms has information cultures clamoring for methods to distill insight from the logarithmic collections. Data visualizations are “on the rise” across virtually all print and electronic media, boasting to provide us with “quick bursts of art and knowledge on the environment, politics, social issues, health, sports, arts and culture.”3

I. In the taxonomy of illustration, the diagram is an empirical artifact. In formal categorization it is considered technical. The conservative visual economy relies on relatively simple delineating symbols to communicate abstract propositions

Bearing in mind the history of the diagrammatic deployment, let us first consider a definitive example of mastery from 1869. Still lauded today as one of the most exemplary distillations of historical information, Carte figurative des pertes successives en hommes de l’Armée Française dans la campagne de Russie 1812-1813 PLOT(S)61

Figure 1: Carte figurative des pertes successives en hommes de l’Armée Française dans la campagne de Russie 1812-1813

(Figure 1) was created by Charles Joseph Minard on the subject of the French Invasion of Russia in 1812. The graphic displays the following array of complex systems within a single image: (1) Geography – The graphical depictions are set within geographical reference to rivers, cities, and battles in addition to the latitudinal and longitudinal co-ordinates. (2) Path – The path of the army is drawn directly into the map and is color coded by direction: gold heading into Russia and black retreating out. (3) Counts – The number of soldiers is represented by the width of the path, from 480,000 at the start to 10,000 at the end. (4) Temperature – For the retreat only, the air temperature is given at select points along the journey, represented by a line chart at the bottom, with the lines linking the two charts. PLOT(S)62

(5) Time – Time runs two ways: left to right for the invasion and right to left as the army retreats; the line chart on the bottom gives dates at several locations. A narrative that would require thousands of words to achieve the same clarity is presented on a map of relational aspects. The graphic presents a more widely available and distributable form of knowledge. Being in the form of an image, it engages a wider audience, including those who may not be as inclined to read a historical account of Napoleon’s Army. In this instance, the graphical form illustrates nearly flawless communication while providing greater access to the knowledge presented. The design of such an object requires critical insight and precision; it works with the same clarity. We might say that the nature in which the object is made structures the way it acts. In the instance

Figure 2: “There are 596 acres of vacant public land in Brooklyn.”

of web design, exact and refined like language, the code produces fluidity. As the demand for the translation of macrocosmic data continues to increase, it is of critical importance that the application of intentional rigor, such as in Minard’s map, be incorporated into contemporary practice. II. When the main purpose of diagrams and visualizations is to clarify and engage audience, it is often impractical to avoid a certain level of visual complexity. As the medium continues to be explored, perhaps we can ask questions through the nature of the way it is visualized, incorporating fuzzy edges or alternative ways of articula-ting spatio-temporal constructions. Consequently, we should also think of certain kinds of data visualizations as visual ways to convey the richness of involvement and feelings of engagement that we experience in our

everyday lives rather than simplifications of the world. The slick veneer of data visualizations not only raise suspicion of journalistic pursuits, they represent a larger epistemological question. When data is treated as fact and makes no reference to the subjective structure through which it is made, the ramifications, now buried below consciousness, can be wielded to dangerous scale. So seduced are we with the sensation of revelation that the object often takes the place of action. The image threatens to neuter and depoliticize knowledge. In their research in temporal modeling, Johanna Drucker and Bethany Nowviskie postulate ways of making interactive tools for visualizing subjective, inflected, nonhomogeneous temporal relations: We are experimenting with the use of embedded dial interfaces to reveal and compare cyclical patterns or factors in the temporal compositions users PLOT(S)63

may devise. By wrapping into concentric circles what may, in an initial model, have been figured as linear progressions of events, and by interactively turning and adjusting those embedded dials, our users will be able to experiment with cycles and repetitions in their own data.4

Through reconsidering the very nature of the structuring of information, of experimenting with non-linear approaches to the way we conceive of recorded information, we may discover valuable tactics for unraveling the ways to question or disrupt approaches toward universalizing ideologies and the notion of linear human progress. In this manner, the made-ness of the data becomes more apparent. The visual evidence of its limitations may lead to new discovery. John Thackara states, “These opportunities afforded by Big Data are real enough — but they also contain a danger: that we become be so focused on numbers that we lose sight of other opportunities. Consider, for a start, all the things that matter, but which cannot be counted.”5 It may be more effective to approach the problems of unquantifiable information with experiments, rather than from a solutionist perspective. The 596 Acres project is an excellent example of turning the unused resource of vacant lots into a platform to promote community involvement and skill sharing. Consulting methodologies of other disciplines, we might consider establishing and enforcing citation standards enriching the depth of interpreted data in order to provide the possibility for further inquiry and research upon viewing the representation. This takes shape in the PLOT(S)64

critical construction of metadata, indexes, or open source code repositories like GitHub. The power is a collective power; the value is built on and strengthened by access. For example, a community of mappers that contribute and maintain data about roads, trails, cafés, and railway stations make OpenStreetMap. The data is ‘open’ for use. This means that anyone is free to use it for any purpose as long as you credit OpenStreetMap and its contributors. This presents a stark contrast to the economically driven, ‘closed’ model of Google Maps. Access can be defined as the systems of functioning and the codified structure of permissions that grant the right or opportunity to participate or use a service. When we look at the question of data and the question of the made artifact we are also looking at the ideals of property. In effect, by deconstructing the object and what it does, we are also examining the systems of control. The objective is then to create persuasive propositions to rupture ideals of permission and access, giving precedents to objects with alternative sets of permissions and non-linear paths. In order to expand the possibilities of design, we must understand what we are doing when we design and execute with intentionality. References can be found on page 72.


IT WAS A SMALL, SPARSE ROOM THAT I WAS TO LIVE IN FOR THREE DAYS OF A TWO-WEEK TURKISH VACATION, MOST OF WHICH WAS SPENT IN THE HEADY CITY OF ISTANBUL, EXCEPT THIS FORAY INTO THE QUAINT INTERIORS OF ANATOLIA. The afternoon sun filtered through one of the arched Persian windows, splicing the room into two halves of shadow and light. The single bed receded into darkness and the deep maroon Turkish rug flamed bright in the sunshine. My imagination thus far had been so struck by Turkey’s dual contours that I was seeing them in everything: Its strategic location at the confluence of East and West; its culture stretched between the two extremes of conservative Islam and a flamboyant Europe; its politics founded on Ataturk’s fierce, progressive modernism yet carrying the baggage of a long Ottoman history; its language preserving the Arabic script yet turning over to Latin. Turkey was revealing to me its layered, rich texture of

contradictions. I had begun to read so much into these polarities that this room, seen at a particular time of the day with its stark shadow and light, remains in my memory as a photographic evidence of duality. This was at the Museum, a boutique hotel in Cappadocia, which was a two-hour flight from Istanbul. Unassuming at the outset, the Museum, a flat roofed stone structure, sits on the edge of a cliff with its rooms built into the mountainside. It reveals itself only once you’ve walked through a stone archway on to its main deck with a magnificent infinity pool. There the view opens up to the vast, peculiar landscape of Cappadocia and its Fairy Chimneys, as they are colloquially referred to. These geological formations were made over centuries of volcanic flow and erosion, creating intriguing rock sculptures that resemble a slender giant wearing a big hat—demoiselles coiffees to the French imagination. The rooms at the Museum are restored and luxuriously renovated versions of cave dwellings that PLOT(S)65

Images taken by Komal Sharma.

are claimed to be over a thousand years old. Turkey has witnessed the rise and fall of so many ancient civilizations, including early Christian Romans, Greeks and Persians, that its history goes deep into its topography. The lobby, lounges and rooms of the Museum mediated a spatial movement that was much like an excavation itself. Walking through a dark alley, under lowlying ceilings, through narrow doors could lead to either a sublime vista or a unique antique or a quotidian object with obvious signs of years of use. I entered my suite through a wooden door and into a living room of yellow sandstone walls. The hotel staff member, a local from Cappadocia, picking up on my interest in the interiors, informed me, “this is the best of Seljuk masonry.� Seljuks were a mix of Turko-Persian dynasty in the early 11th century, and my dear attendant was PLOT(S)66

happy to share the fact because he was a Seljuk himself. Wooden floors and a low wooden ceiling gave the space a cavern-like quality but the two windows that opened to the valley outside left you feeling as though you were on the verge of an expansive exterior. A wooden sofa lined the adjacent walls. The crocheted throws and the kilim rugs added color to the earthy stone and wood textures. A brass coffee table sat in the middle with inlay of turquoise as blue as the Bosphorus. A large round mirror on the wall, in a gilded brass frame, caught my reflection every time I passed by. It seemed like a reflection framed within a different time and place, causing some pleasant momentary disorientation. From the living room, the bedroom was a step up and a walk beneath another stone archway. Two candles rested on either side of the path, leaving their black soot marks on the arched

surface. A small bedroom with a single bed, a solitary bedside table and two windows on the back wall painted a meager picture, but for the decorative textile descending from the ceiling that made the space intimate. Draped from the center and reaching out to brackets on the corners, it created a sense of being within a medieval yurt. At night, the walls seemed to close in further. Lit by a single bedside table lamp, it was a dim backdrop for an enlightened moment in my mind. I remember contemplating Turkish author, Orhan Pamuk’s idea of huzun.1 That room and what lay beyond it, I believe had a tacit role to play in my understanding of a cultural nuance—the sense of huzun, the collective melancholy— that Pamuk describes in his autobiographical travel book, Istanbul: Memories and the City. With roots in Arabic, Pamuk’s huzun is a feeling of a spiritual loss, but a loss that

contains within it a feeling of hope, “a state of mind that is ultimately as life-affirming as it is negating,” writes Pamuk. “To the Sufis, huzun is the spiritual anguish we feel because we cannot be close enough to is the absence, not the presence, of huzun that causes him distress.” 2 Pamuk describes huzun “...not as the melancholy of a solitary person but the black mood shared by millions.”3 “What I am trying to explain,” he writes, “is the huzun of an entire city: of Istanbul.”4 When you ponder the story of Turkey, you find it is replete with wars, badgered by religious conflict and yet prospering in trade, as it lay in the path of the Silk Route. When Pamuk describes huzun, he is referring to a time in Istanbul’s history when the Ottoman Empire was eroding and the glory of Constantinople an even distant memory. Confused and wounded, the people seemed to be picking up the pieces and PLOT(S)67

tuning into Ataturk’s enthusiasm. It was a mourning of a twin nature, of defeat and re-birth. It was not a mere backward looking nostalgia but an acknowledgement of loss and making it a part of the present. Pamuk explains the lives of Istanbullus among its ruins: These are nothing like the remains of great empires to be seen in Western cities, preserved like museums of history and proudly displayed. The people of Istanbul simply carry on with their lives amid the ruins. Many Western writers and travelers find this charming. But for the city’s more sensitive and attuned residents, these ruins are reminders that the present city is so poor and confused that it can never again dream of rising to its former heights of wealth, power and culture.5

But this portraiture of huzun is not limited to a poetic explanation of a state of mind. It is done via the physicality of the city. Pamuk affords agency to its ruins, its towering minarets, its deserted harbors, its black soot, its poverty and so on. He further writes: On cold winter mornings, when the sun suddenly falls on the Bosphorus and that faint vapor begins to rise from the surface, the huzun is so dense you can almost touch it, almost see it spread like a film over its people and its landscapes….6

And: “To feel this huzun is to see the scenes, evoke the memories in which the city itself becomes the very illustration, the very essence of huzun.”7 This memoir of Pamuk as well as Istanbul seemed to be informing my experience at Capodocia even though the ruins of the PLOT(S)68

city may be so different and far removed from this countryside setting. Yet this hotel seemed to echo the ambiguity that I came to understand as being typical of huzun. It was carved out of caves, designed to meet the global, luxury tourists’ needs, yet defying the homogeneity of globalization with the magnitude of its setting. The next morning, rising early by sunrise—as if this countryside norm was the most natural thing for me to do—I stepped outside and sat on the balcony. The steep descent of the valley in front began right at my balcony’s railing. A cat precariously sat on the edge. The azan (Islamic prayer) could be heard in the distance, emanating from the minaret of a mosque close by; the minarets that created a striking imagery of the skyline of an otherwise cosmopolitan country. As much as this room, this hotel, this place was designed to evoke a certain experience of a provincial kind of luxury, there is something which was not, rather, could not have been so choreographed. Yet it slipped through like wild flowers that grew out of the crevices in those stonewalls. Of course, it was also triggered by the enigmatic words of an author; but it was the design, or rather the negative space, the things left undesigned, that gave an outsider, a tourist, a fleeting glimpse of what this huzun might be about. Turkey is thriving with souvenir and curio shops. But a token that has remained with me was a tiny bi-fold I picked up at the bedside table of my room at the Museum. It was a language card with some basic

References can be found on page 75.

English to Turkish translations. It ended with the following: What is your name – Adiniz ne Where are you from – Nerelisiniz How are you – Nasilisiniz I do not understand – Anlamadim Wha – Ne Why – Neden Where – Nerede When – Ne zaman How much / many – Ne kadar Left – Sol Right – Sag Straight ahead – Düz These innocent phrases that were meant to help a tourist get by in Turkey seemed like a poem to me. A poem of a collective authorship. A poem composed of subliminal queries of a culture at crossroads, hinting at its mystical emotion of huzun. PLOT(S)69

Nest: A Quarterly of Interiors, What an Unconventional Publication Teaches Us About Conventions, by Salem Tsegaye

10. Ibid, 285.


12. Ibid, 285.

1. Nest: A Quarterly of Interiors. (Winter 2001-2002): 5.

13. John Berger. The White Bird : Writings. London: Chatto & Windus, 1985. 7.

11. Ibid, 286.

2. Ibid, 7. 14. Scarry, 288. 3. Ibid, 16. 15. Ibid. 4. This issue of Nest features “Bunny Hole,” a brief article written by rabbit rescuer and freelance writer Mary E. Cotter, who has convereted her home into a makeshift woodland-like bunny haven for her foster rabbit, Tattle Tail, whose primary hideout is the interior of Mary’s box spring. 5. Nest, 190. 6. In “Doing Windows,” Diana George writes about the display window and its seemingly mystical ability to produce desire for objects behind the glass. George challenges the typical notion of the displayed object commodity by taking into consideration prostitutes, human commodities, who display themselves behind windows in Amsterdam. 7. Nest, 57.

16. Ibid, 289-290. 17. Ibid, 292.

Otto Von Busch, by Kamala Murali: Endnotes: 1. Ramia Mazé and Mahmoud Keshavarz. “Design and Dissensus: Framing and Staging Participation in Design Research.” Design Philosophy Papers. 2013. 3. 2. Otto von Busch. Interview #1 by author. Tape Recording. Personal interview. March 7, 2013. Q1, para 2 line 1.

8. Nest, 70-71. 9. Nest, 10-11.

What’s Pain Got to do with Design? by Komal Sharma Endnotes: 1. Scarry, Elaine, The Body in Pain, The Making and Unmaking of the World, Oxford University Press, 1985. 4.

3. Otto von Busch. Interview #1 by author. Tape Recording. Personal interview. March 7, 2013. Q2, line 2. 4. Otto von Busch. Interview #1 by author. Tape Recording. Personal interview. March 7, 2013. Q2, line 4. 5. Otto von Busch. Interview #1 by author. Tape Recording. Personal interview. March 7, 2013. Q2, line 15.

2. Ibid, 279.

6. Otto von Busch. Fashion-able: Hacktivism and Engaged Fashion Design. Diss. 2008. Göteborg: School of Design and Crafts (HDK), Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts, U of Gothenburg, 2008. 33.

3. Ibid, 278-279.

7. Ibid, 28.

4. Ibid, 278

8. Otto von Busch. Interview #2 by author. Tape Recording. Personal interview. April 13, 2013. Q2, para 2, line 2.

5 Ibid. 6.Ibid, pp280 7. Ibid, 279.

9. Otto von Busch and Karl Palmås. Abstract Hacktivism: The Making of a Hacker Culture. London: Open Mute, 2006. 17.

8. Ibid. 9, Ibid, 283. PLOT(S)70

10.Thomas Markussen. “The Disruptive Aesthetics of Design Activism: Enacting Design Between Art and

Politics.” Design Issues 29.1 (2013): 39.

29. Ibid, Q7, line 31.

11 Otto von Busch. Post-script to Fashion-able: Or, A Methodological Appendix to Activist Design Research. S.l.: O. Von Busch, 2009. 19. http://www.kulturservern. se/wronsov/selfpassage/research/MethodPost-web.pdf

30. Otto von Busch. “Fashion Hacking as Shapeshifting.” ISEA Istanbul. 19 Sept. 2011. 6. research/ISEA2011-OvonBusch.pdf

12 Otto von Busch. “Self-reliant fashion: autonomy, capabilities and the “laws of fashion.” Dialoghi Internazionali. 18 (2012): 3. http://www.kulturservern. se/wronsov/selfpassage/research/vonBuschSelfreliantFashion.pdf

31 Ibid. Bibliography: Bauman, Zygmunt. “Introduction.” Consuming Life. Cambridge: Polity, 2007.

13. Ibid. 14. Ibid, 4.

Brien, Patricia. “Otto von Busch: Fashion Hacktivism.” Dazed Digital. article/1466/1/otto-von-busch-fashion-hacktivism

15. Ibid. 16. Ibid, 5. 17. Otto von Busch. Interview #2 by author. Tape Recording. Personal interview. April 13, 2013. Q3. Line 4. 18. Otto von Busch. “DaleSkoHack.” Website. March 3, 2013. daleSkoHack/daleSkoHack.htm 19. Otto von Busch. The Dale Sko Hack – a project exploring modes of production and reform tactics. 2006. 22. daleSkoHack/daleSkoHack-booklet-w.pdf

Busch, Otto von. “Engaged Design and the Practice of Fashion Hacking: The Examples of Giana Gonzalez and Dale Sko.” Fashion Practice The Journal of Design Creative Process & the Fashion Industry 1.2 (2009): 163-86. http://graduateglobalissues.files.wordpress. com/2012/08/von-busch_engaged-design.pdf Busch, Otto Von. “Neighbourhoodies: Courageous Community Colours, Blazing Bling, and Defiant Delight.” Cumulus Conference. Tongji University, Shanghai. 2010. research/vonBusch-cumulus2010publ.pdf

20 Ibid, 30.

Busch, Otto von, and Karl Palmås. “After Counterculture” and “Outro on Opium.” Abstract Hacktivism: The Making of a Hacker Culture. London: Open Mute, 2006. 63-114.

21. Otto von Busch. Interview #3 by author. Tape Recording. Personal interview. April 26, 2013. Q3, line 9.

Davis, Fred. “Do Clothes Speak? What Makes Them Fashion?” Fashion, Culture, and Identity. Chicago: U of Chicago, 1992. 1-19

22. Otto von Busch. Interview #3 by author. Tape Recording. Personal interview. April 26, 2013. Q3, para 2, line 3.

Jordan, Tim. “Societies in Pieces, Movements in Action.” Activism Direct Action, Hacktivism and the Future of Society. London: Reaktion, 2002. 7-24.

23. Ibid, para 5, line 5.

Moola, Sarifa. “Contemporary Activism: Shifting Movements, Changing Actors.” Agenda. 60 (2004): 39-46.

24. Mazé and Keshavarz, 9. 25. Markus Miessen. “Democracy Revisited (In Conversation with Chantal Mouffe).” The Nightmare of Participation. New York: Sternberg, 2010. 112. 26. Otto von Busch. Interview #3 by author. Tape Recording. Personal interview. April 26, 2013. Q5, line 9. 27. Mazé and Keshavarz, 9.

Murray, Jeff B. “The Politics of Consumption: A Re‐ Inquiry on Thompson and Haytko’s (1997) “Speaking of Fashion”.” Journal of Consumer Research 29.3 (2002): 427-40. Simonsen, Jesper, Jorgen Ole Barenholdt, Monika Buscher and John Damm Scheuer. “Iterative Participatory Design.” Design Research: Synergies from Interdisciplinary Perspectives. New York: Routledge, 2010. 16-32.

28. Otto von Busch. Interview #3 by author. Tape Recording. Personal interview. April 26, 2013. Q5, line 14. PLOT(S)71

Being Here: Generating Space in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, by Laura Wing

(2004) Educational foundations: An anthology of critical readings (1970): 99-111. P259


5. Howard Gardner. Multiple Intelligences: The Theory In Practice. Basic books, 1993.

1. Kwenci Jones. “Cosmopolitan Art for Metropolitans.” Muralopolis. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2014. 2. Keith H. Basso. Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language among the Western Apache. Albuquerque: U of New Mexico, 1996. 3. Michel De Certeau. The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: U of California, 1984. 4. Henri Lefebvre. The Production of Space. Oxford: Blackwell, 1991. 5. Hannah Arendt. The Human Condition. Chicago: U of Chicago, 1958. 6. Ibid. 7. Margaret Crawford. “Contesting the Public Realm: Struggles Over Public Space in Los Angeles.” Writing Urbanism: A Design Reader. By Doug Kelbaugh and Kit Krankel. McCullough. London: Routledge, 2008. 8. Felicia Lee. “Defaced ‘Unity Wall’ Is Repainted.” The New York Times 25 Sept. 1992: 9. Jacques Derrida. Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression. Ed. Eric Prenowitz. Chicago: U of Chicago, 1996. 10. Groundswell.” A New Day. Website. 11. Jean Baudrillard. The System of Objects. London: Verso, 1996. Osmotic Bubble: Creative Insight by Dint of Synchronized Atmospheres, by Gigi Polo Endnotes 1. Santiago Ramón y Cajal proposed that “the ability of neurons to grow in an adult and their power to create new connections can explain learning” (Ramon y Cajal 1909-1911, cited by LeDoux, 2002). For more on brain plasticity, look up “Hebbian Plasticity.” 2. Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica. The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. New York: Penguin, 2009. 3. Nigel Cross. “Designerly Ways of Knowing: Design Discipline Versus Design Science.” Design Issues. 17.3 (2001): 49-55. 4. Paulo Freire, The Banking Concept of Education PLOT(S)72

6. I use the term design[ing] as the act of creating something new. 7. My concept of Osmotic Learning is based on the definition of osmosis as “the process of gradual or unconscious assimilation of ideas, knowledge, etc.” a process of absorption or diffusion suggestive of the flow of osmotic action; especially : a usually effortless often unconscious assimilation <learned a number of languages byosmosis — Roger Kimball>. Merriam Dictionary online. dictionary/osmosis; retrieved on September 2013. Also relates to Rudolf Steiner’s ideas of organic thinking. 8. James E. Zull. The Art of Changing the Brain: Enriching Teaching by Exploring the Biology of Learning. Sterling, Va: Stylus Pub, 2002. 9. Bernard Neville. Educating Psyche: Emotion, Imagination and the Unconscious in Learning, 2005. 10. Of various cognitive styles. Look up M. J. Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation Theory (KAI). http://www.kaicentre. com/initiatives.htm 11. Arthur S. Reber. Implicit Learning and Tacit Knowledge: An Essay on the Cognitive Unconscious. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. 12. Grant P. Wiggins and Jay McTighe, eds. The Understanding By Design Guide To Creating HighQuality Units. ASCD, 2011. 13. Eric R. Kandel. The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain: from Vienna 1900 to the Present. New York: Random House, 2012. 14. Michael S. Gazzaniga. Split Brain. Pasadena, Calif: Insta-Tape, 1973. Sound recording. 15. Eric R. Kandel. In Search of Memory : The Emergence of a New Science of Mind. New York : W. W. Norton & Company, 2006. 16. Peter Gray. Psychology Today, 2013. Posted on May/June 2013.; http://www. 17. Lorenza S, Colzato, Ayca Szapora, Justine N. Pannekoek, and Bernhard Hommel. “The Impact of Physical Exercise on Convergent and Divergent Thinking.” Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 7 (2013). 18. Jonah Lehrer. Imagine: How Creativity Works. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.

19. Ibid. 20. Niberca Polo. The Osmotic Bubble: Unconscious Learning Through Osmosis: How Emotion and Intuition Empower us to Imagine. 2012. 21. Mark A. Runco. “Divergent thinking and creative performance in gifted and nongifted children.” Educational and Psychological Measurement 46, no. 2 (1986): 375-384.

14. “Background Information on Colombia’s Democracy.” Proexport Colombia. colombia/democracy 15. Brad Cohen. “Inside Pablo Escobar’s Medellín Cartel.” BBC 14 October 2011. travel/feature/20111014-inside-pablo-escobarsMedellín-cartel 16. Ibid.

22. Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica. The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. New York: Penguin, 2009.

17. Ibid.

23. I use the term synchronized atmospheres as meaningful experiences happening simultaneously, and not being governed by laws of cause and effect but indirectly feed each other. See Carl Jung theory of synchronicity for more details.

19. Samuel Medina. “Medellín’s Escalator of Progress.” Architizer Blog. 2 March 2012. http://www.architizer. com/en_us/blog/dyn/39834/Medellíns-escalator-ofprogress/#.UYaZG1sjrsp

24. Tedtalks: Daniel Tammet, Different Ways of Knowing. New York, N.Y: Films Media Group, 2011. 25. Thomas Insel. “New Views into the Brain.” NIHM.

18. Ibid.

20. Constantino Diaz-Duran. “The Man Who Tamed the Cocaine Capital.” The Daily Beast. 19 October 2010. sergio-fajardo-interview-the-man-who-tamed-colombiascocaine-capital.html 21. Ibid.

Crime, Medellín and Architecture from A to Z, by Lindsay Reichart Endnotes 1. Bernard Rudofsky. Architecture without Architects: A Short Introduction to Non-Pedigreed Architecture. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1965. 2. “Colombia.” Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. http://www.

22. Drew Westen. “Talk about the Role of Government.” The New York Times. 19 January 2013. http://www. 23. “Colombia.” Peace Brigades International, Colombia.19 (2012): 1-16. 24. Michael Kimmelman. “A City Rises, Along with its Hopes.” The New York Times, May 18, 2012.

4. Ibid.

25. Marco Werman. Medellín’s Makeover: From Drug Trafficking Haven to Award Winning Place of Smart Urban Design. Public Radio International. Audio Recording. 2013.

5. Ibid.

26. Kimmelman, 2012.

6. Ibid.

27. Ibid.

7. Ibid.

28. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

29. “Orquideorama/ Plan B Architects + JPRCR Architects.” 17 May 2008. Arch Daily. http://www.

3. Ibid.

9. Ibid 10. Ibid. 11. Ibid. 12. Ibid. 13. Ibid.

30. Ned Jacobs. “Changing the World by Saving Place: When Jane Jacobs and Her Neighbours Defeated the Urban Renewal Project that was Threatening Greenwich Village, they Helped Inspire a Movement that Preserved some of the most Valued Urban Places in North America.” Alternatives Journal. 28.3 (2002): 33. PLOT(S)73

31. Tim Winstanley. “Medellín’s Architectural Renaissance.” 6 September 2011. Arch Daily.ínsarchitectural-renaissance/ 32. .”Moravia Cultural Development Center.” Discover Colombia. 33. “Orquideorama/ Plan B Architects + JPRCR Architects,” 2008. 34. Robert Hammond: Building a Park in the Sky. Video. Anonymous TED Ideas Worth Spreading, 2011.

php?section=calendar&evtid=6400 3. Horst Rittel and Melvin M. Webber. “Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning.” Policy Sciences 4.2 (1973): 155-69. 4. Donella H. Meadows and Diana Wright. Thinking in Systems: A Primer. White River Junction: Chelsea Green, 2008. 151. 5. John Body. “Design in the Australian Taxation Office.” Design Issues 24.1 (2008): 55-67. 6 Philip Sargent. “Design Science or Non-science.” Design Studies 15.4 (1994): 389-402.

35. Jacobs, 33. 36. Ibid. 37. Ibid.

7. Nigel Cross. “Designerly ways of knowing.” Design Studies, 3.4 (1982) 221-227. 8. Clive Dilnot. Discourse on Design Studies course lecture. Parsons The New School for Design. Fall 2013.

38. Kimmelman, 2012. 39. Ibid. 40. Ibid.

9. Herbert A. Simon. The Sciences of the Artificial. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1996. Taxonomy, by Laura Wing:

41. Ibid. Endnotes: 42. Ibid 43. Ibid. 44. Winstanley, 2011. 45. Kimmelman, 2012. 46. Winstanley, 2011.

1. John Walker. “The London Underground Diagram.” Icographic 14/15 (1979): 2-4. 2. Lawrence Lessig. “The Architecture of Innovation.” , Meredith and Kip Frey Lecture in Intellectual Property. Duke University School of Law, Durham. 23 Mar. 2001. 3. Gareth Cook. The Best American Infographics 2013. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2013.

47. Ibid. Bibliography: La Plaza De Toros La Macarena. Digital image. Ciudad Turismo Medellin. Ciudad Turismo Medellin. September 20, 2010. Michael Kimmelman. “A City Rises, Along with its Hopes.” The New York Times, May 18, 2012. Design Capabilities in Public Governance Innovation, by Jhen Yi Lin Endnotes: 1. Jonty Olliff-Cooper. “Cabinet office policy lab aims to create designer public services.” The Guardian, Nov 26, 2013. 2. “Policy, Meet Design.” Organized by Town+Gown, Center for Architecture, and Public Policy Lab. October 10, 2013. PLOT(S)74

4. Johanna Drucker and Bethany Nowviskie, “Temporal Modeling: Conceptualization and Visualization of Temporal Relations for Humanities Scholarship” Temporal Modeling Project Report, University of Virginia, early 2000s. 5. John Thackara. “Trust is not an algorithm.” Change Observer: Design Observer. June 7, 2013. trust-is-not-analgorithm/37930/ Bibliography: Mattern, Shannon. “Methodolatry and urban data science.” Places: Design Observer. November 5, 2013. Tufte, Edward. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Cheshire: Graphics Press, 2001.

Illustrations: Figure 1: Charles Minard; image courtesy of Wikipedia. Figure 2: Eric Fischer; image found at: com/photos/walkingsf/6867179134/. Lost and Found in Translation: The Interiors of a Hotel Room in Turkey Help to Comprehend an Elusive Cultural Nuance, by Komal Sharma Endnotes 1. Orhan Pamuk. Istanbul : Memories and the City. New York: Vintage International, 2006. 91. 2. Ibid, 90-91. 3. Ibid, 92. 4. Ibid. 5. Ibid, 101. 6. Ibid, 66.


Mission Plot(s) explores the plurality of design studies. The field seeks to expand the understanding of design as both a catalyst for change and as culpable for the state of our present world. In an attempt to map the network of discourses within design studies, each work in Plot(s) lends a critical eye to a facet of design practice. As students at Parsons The New School for Design, we do not attempt to provide an exhaustive understanding of design studies, but a glimpse into the burgeoning field.



All contributors to this issue of Plot(s) are MA candidates in the Design Studies program at Parsons the New School for Design. We thank our fellow students, Dora Sapunar, Chen Yu Lo, Finn Ferris, Sarah Lillenberg, Divia Padayachee, Tia Remington-Bell, Vivian Cai, William Perkins, James Laslavic, Ruo Ma, Katherine Moyer, and Veronica Uribe whose collective input gave shape and color to our mission.


© OF DESIGN STUDIES Issue 1, Spring/Summer 2014

PARSONS THE NEW SCHOOL FOR DESIGN School of Art and Design History and Theory

MA Design Studies

Profile for Plot(s)

Plot(s) Issue 1  

Plot(s) explores the plurality of design studies. The field seeks to expand the understanding of design as both a catalyst for change and as...

Plot(s) Issue 1  

Plot(s) explores the plurality of design studies. The field seeks to expand the understanding of design as both a catalyst for change and as...

Profile for plot.s