Harvard GSD Conference on Design I: Liminal Objects

Design is a complex cultural practice that exists between the scale of architecture and the human body, among a myriad of industries and crafts and an equally wide array of end uses. Along with Architecture, Urban Planning and Design, and Landscape Architecture, the design of objects shapes our built environment and contributes to our quality of life and our use of resources. Public interest in design is stronger and broader than ever before, but its boundaries are challenged as emerging areas of specialization expand the discipline from within, and countless professions appropriate design methods for their own ends.
Liminal Objects initiates a conference series about design that aims to identify pressing issues within the field by exploring the designed object’s role in diverse spatial practices.
Through carefully crafted discussions between designers, critics, curators and business leaders, the conference will approach design from differing points of view, studying the production of design, design in practice, and ways that institutions shape design through exhibitions and commissions. The discussion will culminate in a round table with GSD faculty and invited guests.
Schedule (panel start times are approximate)
3:00 p.m. Introduction by Mohsen Mostafavi (Dean, Harvard Graduate School of Design)
3:15 p.m. Design-in-Practice—Moderated by Justin McGuirk (Design Critic at the Guardian), with Jonathan Olivares (Designer and Writer), Jonathan Muecke (Designer), Jürg Lehni (Designer)

One of the biggest questions a designer must face is what kind of design work to do. A panel of forward-thinking designers working in different areas of the field, will discuss the experimentation, techniques, and goals behind their work. How does a designer begin to form the questions that will frame the work? How is design effected as the tools of daily life are increasingly becoming virtual? What techniques are essential in the designers process? What is the relationship of design to the body and the surrounding space?

4:15 p.m. Design and the Museum
—Moderated by Toshiko Mori (GSD and Toshiko Mori Architects), with Cara McCarty (Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum), Joseph Becker (SFMoMA), Murray Moss (Moss Bureau)
The Design Museum operates between the design sphere and the public, functioning as a historical mechanism, a critical outpost, and as a catalyst for change both within the field and in the public’s perception of design. A panel of museum curators will discuss their respective institutions programs and what they view as pressing issues within the field.

5:15-5:30 p.m. Break

5:30 p.m. Design and Production—Moderated by Jeff Chu (Fast Company), with Benjamin Pardo (Knoll), Ville Kokkonen (Artek), Paul Johnson (Johnson Trading Gallery)
From mass-manufacturing, to limited editions, to cultural initiatives, forms of production continue to evolve and shape the designed object. A panel of design directors from the furniture industry will discuss the production process; What role does research and planning play? What characterized the development process and how is it evolving? How is manufacturing changing the way that objects are designed? How is the distribution model evolving? And what role does the designer play throughout these processes?

6:30 p.m. Round Table
—Including Mack Scogin (GSD and Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects), Francisca Insulza (Architect), Sanford Kwinter (GSD), Karen Stein (Design Consultant and Writer)
A discussion in which GSD faculty and invited guests will join the day’s panelists to explore several questions, including: How should the GSD could get involved in the design of objects and interior spaces? What links can be drawn between the existing spatial practices at the GSD and the design of objects? Which methods from the broad practice of design might be most relevant? What are the key concepts that could guide such a study? What pertinent work, done at the GSD in the past, could be a point of departure?

Anyone requiring accessibility accommodations should contact the Public Programs Office at (617) 496-2414 or [email protected].