Tirana Design Week (TDW) this year, in 2019, approaches Tirana’s 100th anniversary as the capital of Albania. Comparing photos of a bucolic Tirana in 1920 with what one sees from Polis University’s fourth floor today, inevitably raises doubts about the endurance of design, while conspicuously evincing the fluctuating tendency of what constitutes a norm in a world continuously oscillating between what is desired or imagined as an endogenous equilibrium and exogenous menaces. The objective of Tirana Design Week is to draw current research and design practices, as well as theoretical speculations on the topic of uncertainty and non-normativity in multiple scales and contexts, in and from the city of Tirana, with the latter understood as a dis-position, a tendency to change position.
The significance of addressing such topic from Tirana is that this city is a harsh and unmediated example of what is already a global symptom: a strong contrast between an ideology of normativity on the one hand, and its actual impossibility on the other; between the aim for responsible design practices and ethical boundaries impossible to overcome; between education and merciless economic reason, between standardized production and mass-customized desires, between daily ideologies of inclusivity and an increasingly predominant exclusivity, between plain design narratives and irresponsible political decision making; between expensive normativity affordable only by few, and not-so-cheap sub-normativity for the many; between frenzied building development and destruction of urban artifacts; between ’glittery’ shapes in the center and chaotic sprawl in the periphery; between style and non-style. What happens in-between is dimmed as ‘uncertain’. TDW this year aims precisely to enhance such uncertainty from the perspective of different practices such as design, architecture, sociology, urban and environmental studies, theory and history, innovation, writing, research and pedagogy, among others. Not so much to propose another new agenda – we already have plenty of those, but rather to juxtapose these practices with what is already happening ‘out there’, and speculate how they can potentially inflect, positively or negatively, this ‘out there’: the un-reason of non-normativity and the commodification of normativity.
The conference invites scientific and applied research papers, posters and round table discussions that research, propose frameworks, and speculate about the issues presented above: those of Un-Certainty and Non-Normativity. The conference consists of four large topics: Research and Methods, History and Theory, Innovative Processes, and Philosophy and Objects. These topics consist of other more focused paper session topics. The papers abstracts and posters must be submitted by 25 June 2019. Both abstracts and papers and posters will be selected according to a peer review process. The papers must not exceed 4000 words maximum, while the posters must be formatted in a A-1 board. For more information see the Conference Table of Contents and submission guidelines on the conference website. The proceedings of the conference will be published in a dedicated volume and the best one selected to be inserted in the FORUM A+P TDW special issue.
Research and Methods
Moderators: Sonia Jojic
Abstract: Design is not simply a passive instrument but rather an active ‘player’ that governs, produces and organizes a world of objects, of normativities and non-normativities. It is hard to imagine modernity without design, and design without modernity. From the early world expositions in the nineteenth century, to contemporary practices of mass-customization design acts as a mediator between users and objects, between the designer/author and people, and between ideas and objects. It may be important then to research and speculate on when in the history of modernity design was distinguished as such against the disciplinary grounds of arts and architecture, as well as investigate its relationship with technology and industrial reproduction. Design is also an object. The very notion of teaching design assumes that design is a corpus of knowledge that can be communicated, transmitted and disseminated across places and cultures. How does one teach design? How does one research (about teaching) design? How does one research by design? How does one design research? What does it mean to have a hypothesis, or research question in design? How do new technologies affect design as well as research and methods in design? How do the new design methods foresee and predict uncertain scenario and future paths? The aim of this paper & poster session is to engage with these questions according to five subtopics: Process, Skill, Communication, Technics and Perception and Imagination.
- Process: tends to investigates how design comes about; how information about design is processed, evaluated and selected.
- Skill: will focus on the fundamentals of carrying out a design. What is a “skill”? What are its normativities? Is it a predisposition or knowledge? Is it expertise or competence? What skills are required to design? What skills are required to research about design?
- Communication: this session aims to explore and highlight the relationship between design and ‘mis-communication. What does it mean to communicate a process and a method, and how the way they are presented at the same time shapes the way they are applied and developed?
- Technics: this is a category without which it is hard to imagine or think about design. Technical and technological re-production is fundamental how design is perceived, imagined and disseminated.
- Perception and Imagination: the last subtopic focuses on the relationship of how does design mediate between the two?
History and Theory
Moderators: Skender Luarasi and Valerio Perna
Abstract: How does history and theory of design affect design, today? How does Tirana as a particular place with a wide range of problematics help us address this question? It is the ambition of this paper & poster session to deal with these questions. There is an uncertain relationship between history and theory on the one hand and design practice on the other, in history. It is the hallmark of modernity to imagine such this relationship in terms of crisis. Twentieth-century design, in its different disciplinary forms and manifestations, relinquished both history and imitation of nature by emphasizing functionalism, the machine, and mass-standardization. Upon close inspection, however, it appears that its normative positions were indeed rooted in history, particularly in the organicist theories of the nineteenth century, and while nature as a model may well have disappeared, the model as nature did not.
- Sessions Design in the Twentieth Century: The first session Design of the Twentieth Century invites paper abstracts that deal with such relationship, and also how it changed under the emerging conditions of personalization, mass-customization, and non-standard technologies.
- Modernity in Albania: The second session Modernity in Albania invites abstracts that register different manifestations and developments of modern design in Albania in the last century, and today. Looking at modernity in Albania reveals that modernity was never a large monolithic Style, but rather consisted of different approaches, expressions, and styles.
- Non-normativity: Such multiplicity leads us to the third topic: non-normativity. Looking at Tirana today, at its frenzied building development and speculation on the one hand, and the merciless destruction of the memory of its modernity on the other might suggest us to propose a rather philosophical somersault: the normative is indeed the exception, while the non-normative is the norm. This session invites abstracts that deal with such reversal.
- Sprawl versus Growth: The fourth session Sprawl versus Growth serves as a case study to focus on the idea of non-normativity. It invites abstracts that deal with the expansion of the city of Tirana in the last thirty years. Is this expansion a sprawl or a growth? What is their difference? How does such difference help us better imagine, perceive and design cities? What is the history of sprawl and growth? When did ‘growth’ become ‘sprawl’? And when do these metaphor end?
- Pedagogy: And last, the fifth session Pedagogy invites papers that deal with the role of history and theory in design pedagogy. How do we teach design and theory in design? Should we teach them at all and why? How might history and theory change design, and help us better imagine and articulate design for the present?
Round Table Discussion: Discussion about the upcoming book of Andi Papastefani: A 100 Sketches for a 100 years Capital.
Moderators: Joana Dhiamandi, PhD
Abstract: How to innovate, today? How in Tirana, 100 years after the establishment of Bauhaus could we address this question? The challenge of this paper & poster session is to deal with these questions. It is incorrectly assumed that creating new ideas is the beginning of the innovation process; indeed, ideation occurs in the middle of a disciplined process that can lead to differing and unexpected/innovative outcomes. It is clear then how the purpose of innovation is not “simply”, (is in quotes because it’s not so easy to do) definable, the value itself can take many different forms. As we noted above, it can be either incremental improvements to existing products, or the creation of breakthroughs such as entirely new products and services, cost reductions, efficiency improvements, new business models, new ventures, and countless other forms as well. The method of creating innovation is to discover, shape, and develop ideas, to refine them into useful forms, and to use them to earn profits, increase efficiency. So we focus on how to innovate.
The paper session Innovative Processes invites abstracts that explore the connection between design processes and tools used towards innovation. The concept of innovation in the context of an era after-crisis is going to be examined as a matter of research methodology, education vs. industry, product development, and customization of social needs. This challenging process of the continuous exploration, analysis, reflection and inquiry of needs can lead to a new definition of innovation using research methodologies like design thinking, user-centered design. To this end, we welcome a broad exploration of the field of research and education in design and invite submissions that address topics such as innovation through research, practice-based research, innovative teaching methods, and other related issues, systems of things, production.
- Production: The first session Production invites paper abstracts that deal with such relationship, and also how it changed under the emerging conditions of personalization, mass-production and customization process.
- Habitation: The second session Habitation invites abstracts that register different manifestations and developments of Human settlement, a community in which people live, and dwelling, as the self-contained unit of accommodation in the scale of the products and system today. Looking at the act of living in a building, we seek to explore different approaches, expressions, and styles.
- Intelligence: What is Intelligence in Design? In the third paper session, we seek to explore how Artificial or non-artificial intelligence, human and machine intelligence can be combined to develop innovative solutions to social challenges.
- Human Centered Design: The fourth session Human Centered Design serves as a case study to focus on the design research approaches for innovation. It invites abstracts that deal with the approach to designing products to work in ways that people can easily understand and learn, improving human well-being, user satisfaction, accessibility, and sustainability. What is Human Center Design? How does such this path help us to better design products and lives?
- Ecology: And last, the fifth session Ecology (from Greek: οἶκος, "house" or "living relations"; -λογία, "study of") invites papers that deal with the role of the distributions, abundance, and relations of organisms and their interactions with the environment and understand what is normative and non-normative within systems.
Philosophy and Objects
Moderators: Stefano Romano
Abstract: The subject and the object have always been at the center of the discussions of the philosophers of all time. Understanding the similarities and differences between one and the other means reading reality, understanding how we perceive it, what our points of view are on identity and things. According to the German philosopher Hegel "rational is real and real is rational". Rationality must confront with reality to be true, and therefore reality is what it’s understood and defined by rationality. There is nothing in objective reality that thought cannot elaborate intellectually. The relationship then, between subject and object is based on their mutual distinction between what concerns rational activity and objective materiality, but between these two terms, in Hegel, there is no longer opposition but complementarity. The subject is such because it can relate to the object and the object is such because there is a subject that considers it. In other words, our relationship with the external world also gives rise to an understanding of it, so we are the ones to give meanings to our surroundings, be it natural or artifact, but can the object change meaning according to who looks at it? Can the object somehow escape its conceptual standardization? That is, lose the function which was created for? Can its geometric structure be the subject of a conceptual and physical transformation? Can we overturning Hegel’s concept, thinking that what has been defined by our intellect can have a real life even escaping its control, entering the world of the irrational, of the non-functional, of poetry?
- Sessions: Non-standardization: The first session of this section invites papers that reflect on the idea of non-standardization, that is on the possibility that the object loses its idea of standards and becomes "unrepeatable". How can the object in the era of its technical and technological reproducibility still be "unique"?
- Geometry: The second session invites papers dealing with the structure of the object, geometry as a molecular structure, capable of transforming the object of use into a poetic object. Can we modify the geometry of objects, thus also modifying the rational approach to them?
- Material: The third session invites papers that reflect on the material as the subject of the object. Can we use materials in a way that the object they shape, becomes a subject? That is, that can give us an unexpected and poetic point of view on reality?
- Up Close and Far Away: The fourth session invites papers that reflect on the object as a subject of our memory, capable of establishing a two-way relationship and creating emotions. Objects can become subjects when they are symbols that are when they contain within themselves the memory of an emotion, or a thought when they become "totem".
- Play: The fifth session invites papers that take into consideration the game as the final function of the object, we are not talking about objects born to be toys, but objects whose original function was other, but which find their definitive identity precisely through an unexpected, playful use. The game has the opportunity to talk about serious problematics, using an immediate and at the same time profound language because it touches our most archaic part, that of the child we all were.