Conference St. Petersburg 2020 Design: Vertical and Horizontal Growth

Please note! Due to COVID-19 updates will follow shortly.
October 28-30, 2020 St. Petersburg, Russia
Hosted by Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University and St. Petersburg University

Pre-conference event
October 26, 2020 Moscow Russia
hosted by HSE Art and Design School

DESIGN: VERTICAL & HORIZONTAL GROWTH
In accordance with the vision that Cumulus has regarding the exchange of knowledge and design experience on a global and interdisciplinary scale, three Russian schools – Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, St. Petersburg University and HSE Art and Design School have joined their efforts to host an annual Cumulus conference and organize discussions devoted to current design issues. The conference, first of all, strives to encourage the Cumulus community of designers, scholars and experts to express their opinions on the role of design as a humanizing practice in the context of multidirectional development.

The conference invites the participants to explore the issues concerning the involvement of the modern design community in the innovation process. What makes a society receptive to new ideas and technologies? How can design thinking help it overcome its fear of and resistance to the challenges of our times? Are there any possible ways to bridge the gap between the traditional life patterns and the changes rapidly occurring in all areas of society today? How can design really “make the world a better place”? We need a communicative model that would smooth over the differences between the horizontal and the vertical processes.

The vertical and horizontal development vectors – x and y – are perpendicular to each other, and they shape the space of interpretation, aims and objectives of design. The horizontal vector represents cultural values and the conventional lifestyle; this is an area of social comfort. The vertical vector represents innovations that destroy the familiar way of life. Our discussion focuses on design as a practice of searching for areas of growth, areas of support, and areas of balance, which make it possible to reconcile the traditional way of life and cultural values with the innovative approach to solving problems arising in society.

The conference ‘Design: Vertical and Horizontal Growth’ invites its participants to develop a map of relevant research in the field of design within the following reference frames:

HABITAT
technocentric / cosmocentric
Preservation of the environment implies a cautious attitude to any interventions into the ever more fragile ecosphere. At the same time, technologies often become an effective way of solving or mitigating environmental problems. What could be the role of design in softening the technicist attitude towards nature, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, in cultivating openness and the ability of a conservatively-minded community to engage in a dialogue with the economic and technical research institutions? Is it possible to reduce overproduction by means of adaptive design? Could we satisfy the growing consumers’ demand for novelties by means of design instead of material production?

DATA
statistical / profound
The state of the modern information environment encourages development of technologies for working with large amounts of data, which shape a pragmatic, ‘programmer’ outlook in people. Working with information, however, should also include a humanist aspect and promote not only mathematical and statistical methods, but also a hermeneutic approach and contextual analysis. Therefore, design becomes a platform of creating new methods of perceiving, structuring and reviewing the information flow. How can we combine these two attitudes? What form can the modern information design take? What is the future of memory design and data design? What are the ways of using data as a creative medium?

INTERACTION
human / artificial
The structure of communication itself gets strongly influenced by design today. The development of a virtual interactive environment has largely transformed communication processes, reducing the share of direct interpersonal communication in favour of communication mediated by digital technologies. What are the resources of the digital media? Is it possible to establish trust between the actors of communication and coordinate their actions, especially in professional communities? What role can design play in optimizing communication and rethinking the idea of ‘human-computer interaction’?

GNOSIS
learning / vision
In contemporary information environment, educational practices have increasingly intensified. Accessibility of information, the possibility to actively shape and design it, the need to structure it – all this turns education into a technological process. There remains, however, a demand for a deeper personal processing of the information received, for ‘slow’ thinking that can capture and analyse the events in a wider sociocultural context. Will the design techniques and concepts be able to provide a key to harmonizing these two trends and show us the path to achieving a synthesis of the rational and the intuitive approaches to gaining knowledge? How does design influence interaction with academe considered as an information environment?

CREATIVE INDUSTRY
focus / diversity
For over two decades the term ‘creative industry’ has been widely used to designate an ever growing diversity of economic activities. Creativity as such is an essential human feature necessary for inspiring innovative development of every industry and science. Should design be a universal instrument capable of embracing the whole range of human activities, or should it just focus on ‘creative industries’ as they are defined today? How does the project-oriented approach of the industry influence design thinking? And what should contemporary art and design schools be teaching?

FUTURE HUMAN
augmented / extended
The concept of the human body and its’ capacities gets reviewed today due to the development of technologies changing the body structure by means of surgery, genetics and technological correction. As a result, the body becomes a platform of transformation, so today it is an object of design: “extended body” and “morphological freedom” come to the foreground. What new ways of considering one’s body does it imply? How one could adapt to extended self? What is the new subjectivity of an augmented human?

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