With Gratitude for The Design After- A message from Cumulus President Mariana Amatullo

If you did not make it to Bogotá last month, it is possible to get a taste for the exciting atmosphere and special energy this conference generated.

Twice a year for close to thirty years, Cumulus conferences have been inviting our members to gather for a substantive conference program of broad interest that relates to significant pedagogical issues, research questions, and internationalization trends touching art, design and media across the diversity of our member institutions around the world. Cumulus conferences, thoughtfully supported by our Secretariat, are always designed by our host institutions to inspire creativity, networking and learning among our community.

The Design After, the Cumulus Bogotá 2019 conference chaired by Dean Hernando Barragán with a team of academic leaders from the Schools of Architecture and Design at Universidad de los Andes was, in this respect, no different.

If you did not make it to Bogotá last month, it is possible to get a taste for the exciting atmosphere and special energy this conference generated. I invite you to check back on #thedesignafter #cumulusbogotá2019 social media hashtags that captured real-time highlights of the event across three days of dynamic programming; or perhaps watch some of the short video testimonials by conference attendees and students. If you read Spanish, don’t miss some of the terrific local press in Colombia’s mayor design outlets such as Revista Arcadia (all archived in the excellent conference website).

Only the second Cumulus conference to be held in Latin-America and the first one to take place in Colombia, the event found special resonance for me as your newly elected President but also as a design educator and researcher deeply committed to the social agency of design. As I state in my introduction to the conference proceedings (download them here), this conference provocative theme and carefully curated set of narrative streams were highly inter-twined with the political, cultural and social issues we are confronted with today in an age of climate crisis, polarization and strife. The combined perspectives shared, starting with the opening remarks by Alejandro Gaviria, Andes’ president (whose humanistic and socially engaged agenda for his mandate is informed by many years of public health policy work in Colombia); the excellent presentations by the conference keynote speakers touching on themes such as biodiversity-driven design, decolonization, de-innovation, new design futures and cities; the different conference tracks and Cumulus working group exchanges—all amounted to a profoundly inspirational program that brought to life ongoing and new debates about design’s transdisciplinarity and societal impact.

For our team in the Cumulus Executive Board, the conference came in the heels of three days of intensive strategic visioning work that we are launching for our association and a special visit to Medellín, where we were also exposed to an ecosystem of private and public sector initiatives Colombian colleagues in RutaN, Medellín’s business innovation and enterprise center, are leading in the city.

Now back home in New York, I find myself with a renewed resolve to push forward. I am also energized to continue advocating for the importance of the free exchange of knowledge, projects and people that our Cumulus convenings invite. Crossing borders—whether it is physically or digitally through our networks—celebrating collaboration and new friendships, and learning beyond our differences and institutional silos, are all part of the magic make-up of the Cumulus spirit. This was a spirit that was in full-force in Bogotá. Along with our Secretary General Eija Salmi, our coordinator Justyna Molik and my peers in our executive board: Philipp Heidkamp and Rachel K.B. Troye (Vice-Presidents) and José Allard, Adam de Eyto, Lorenzo Imbesi, Michael Krohn, Teemu Leinonen, Anne Pikkov, and Xioa Yong, we say once again congratulations to the Universidad de los Andes team and muchas gracias!

Mariana Amatullo
President of Cumulus

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