Design Display: Design and Democracy – Planbude / Blockchain

Design Display: Design and Democracy – Planbude / Blockchain

Autostadt in Wolfsburg

Visual essay for the accompanying magazine ON DISPLAY by Nicolas Polli. © Design Display.

July 17, 2017
Design Display
Design and Democracy – Planbude / Blockchain
Exhibition #5
July 20–November 12, 2017
Autostadt in Wolfsburg
38440 Wolfsburg

The exhibition series Design Display represents an expanded understanding of design seeking to demonstrate its complex role in our everyday lives, as well as its political and social dimensions. With the purpose of inciting reflection on the way we design not only products, but also our environments and communal spaces, each exhibition solely features two projects in comparison to each other over the course of four months. Inside a monumental glass display, the exhibits constitute two different perspectives on a particular subject and initiate discourse within a design-centric context. Curated by the Autostadt in Wolfsburg and Friedrich von Borries, along with a design board consisting of Konstantin Grcic, Jesko Fezer and Nicolas Bourquin, the concept of the series not only includes product and industrial design but also experimental and interdisciplinary forms of contemporary practice.

Beginning on July 20, 2017, the 5th iteration of the series takes “freedom” as its subject matter by examining how design and democracy intersect in order to effect change in society and its complex systems. On the basis of two different democratic procedures, the exhibition presents a spectrum of creative possibilities: from hands-on participation in urban development to new digital technologies that can fundamentally alter the face of democracy.

On one side of the two-fold exhibition, the Hamburg-based group PlanBude focuses on promoting public participation in city planning and explores how design can become more inclusive. Shaping and implementing participatory processes is an important step to ensuring democracy isn’t just a formal act, but a vital part of everyday life—as it’s observed through the team’s initiatives. This means giving voice to those not normally consulted during the stages of development. Architects and city planners are made aware of the residents’ knowledge, desires, and needs, so that site-specific features can be incorporated into their designs. PlanBude advocates moving beyond designing for the people toward designing with the people.

Since today we don’t just live in physical places, but also the World Wide Web’s infinite virtual space, design becomes indispensable for everything that is invisible too. The second element of the exhibition turns to the digital world and, in particular, the innovative technology of blockchains and its various applications. This new type of online storage makes it possible to safely transfer and save information online while protecting against hacker attacks and tampering. Across the world, blockchain solutions are advancing e-democracy, prompting administrative processes to become more transparent and citizens to get involved more directly.

Revisiting previous Design Display exhibitions
The first iteration featured innovative methods of production and design by looking into a computer-generated chair based on bionic principles and an affordable hand prosthesis manufactured with a standard 3D printer. For the topic of simplicity, the industrial designer Jasper Morrison presented his ideal combination of proportion, volume and mass in the form of cutlery designed for Muji. Elegant form was examined not merely as an end in itself but instead as something that derives from usability. Going beyond the products of design, one of the preceding exhibitions chose to shed light on material research and how scientific examination can be transferred into the world of design through objects and systems. Seaweed was studied as an alternative to fossil fuel while curtains equipped with solar cells cleverly harnessed unexploited energy. In a timely manner in relation to current affairs, one of the most recent topics to come to the forefront was the design scene in Mexico which was observed through a product upholding cultural heritage while simultaneously pointing the way to a gender-defying future. In the same context, conceived as an ideal metropolis, Fernando Romero’s plan for a bi-national city served as a model for cities around the world straddling between national borders.

The dialogical process of each exhibition is continued further in the accompanying magazine ON DISPLAY which features in-depth essays and expert interviews. Published in German and English, the magazine can be found free of charge on site, or ordered from the media partner, the design magazine form.

Press contact
BUREAU N, Stefanie Lockwood: T +49 30 6273 6104 / stefanie.lockwood [​at​]
Autostadt GmbH, Stadtbrücke, 38440 Wolfsburg. Anja Kress: T +49 5361 40 1417 / anja.kress [​at​]

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Autostadt in Wolfsburg
July 17, 2017

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