Making and Unmaking the Environment

University of Oslo

7 – 9 September 2017

The “Making and Unmaking the Environment” conference is organised annually by the Design History Society in a different town. This year it is Oslo’s turn to host it from 7 to 9 September 2017.

In Victor Papenek’s pamphlet “Design for the Real World”, which looks at the failures of design (1971), designers are confronted with the responsibility they hold for the effects on the environment caused by the products they have designed.

Overrated by proponents as saviours of the world, a great deal of influence is attributed to them as those who make the decisions for the materials and production methods used.

Critics imply that designers often hide behind financial excuses and do not take their responsibility for the environment on board. This annual conference in design history wants to address this area of tension and open up a dialogue about the options for exerting influence on the environment.

Taking this year’s theme of “Making and Unmaking the Environment”, the intention is to re-gauge the relationship between design and nature in the context of design history. The aim is to confront the effects of design on its surroundings with a new sense of seriousness and to take a fresh look at design history against the background of the Anthropocene age. Guest speakers include Simon Sadler, Jennifer Gabrys and Peder Anker.


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