Designing China

Aug 9–Aug 22, 2009
Shanghai, China

To date, SECT sessions have been conducted at UCHRI’s facilities in Irvine, California. In August 2009, SECT VI traveled to Shanghai to hold an intensive two-week summer institute on “Designing China.” Design is more than just a matter of combining aesthetics and functionality. Today, more than ever, the stakes of design are very high, raising at every turn urgent economic, political, social, and philosophical issues. The relation between design and its context is particularly salient in a rapidly transforming space like contemporary China. This seminar proposed to focus on China, not because China leads the world in the field of design, but because China today is where design issues are raised in perhaps their most problematic and provocative form. The seminar was neither a survey of design nor a training course in design fundamentals; it was not even exclusively about China. Rather, China was taken as a case study to explore, in the spirit of “experimental critical theory,” the larger issues of design in a globalizing world.