Histories of the Social in Design – Victor Papanek Foundation

This international symposium examines the significance of Austrian and Central European émigré and exile architects/designers in promoting a progressive culture of debate in the USA, around the needs of society and strategies for social inclusion. The culture of the social in design that emerged in the US from the 1920s to the 1960s was defined by collaboration. The symposium is the first to address the pivotal role played by émigré and exile networks, in New York, Boston, Chicago, Aspen, and L.A., in shaping a new social agenda within design.

Cutting-edge research will bring to the fore the ways in which architects and designers utilized their Viennese and European schooling to confront political realities of World War II and beyond. The lessons adapted by prominent figures such as Josef Frank, Richard Neutra, Frederick Kiesler, Eva Zeisel, Bernard Rudofsky and Victor Papanek prompt the revisiting of discussions that originated on Vienna’s famous Ringstrasse; illuminating design’s role in the creation of progressive social communities.

Leading scholars in the fields of architectural and design history, cultural history and anthropology consider the critical contribution of émigrés and exiles in forming new humanistic directions in design. This historical appraisal opens a new forum in which to debate the role of the social in design and its relevance for today’s global perspective.

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