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Design & Politics Recap

To ring in 2021 strong, DSI teamed up with MFA Products of Design to create a new iteration of their biennial Design & Politics workshop, facilitated by our own Sloan Leo & POD faculty Jennifer Rittner. 

Sloan gave us a recap of the course, which came at a pivotal moment following the insurrection at the Capitol:  “[we] explored the question, ‘how can we as communities (organizational, geographic and political) heal and navigate moments of tension and harm?’ The workshop was developed during an unprecedented moment in American socio-political history, and engaged students in a dialogue rooted in their personal and professional experiences to generate creative interventions to address moments of transition in a community’s lifecycle.”

Across two days, students created small projects that explored this question using various mediums. While the catalyst for this question is rooted in the sociopolitical evolutions in the US over the last 8 months, the question is applicable to any community, and the projects reflected various systems in which this work is applicable.

One example was Jenny Lin and Daphne Luo’s take on this question led them to co-creating a story about the traditional cultural embroidery of the Miao people in South China as a means of connecting to history, community, and identity. When re-imagining care, they envisioned community action from the ground up instead of top down, and created a WeChat collective intended to connect the younger generation to the older generation to spread the craft beyond local communities. The final story is told from a young person’s perspective, to engage the youth in claiming their culture and identity.

Mickey Ferrera’s group’s explored the impact of racist and xenophobic policies and rhetoric on immigrant communities. Using their experiences of migration, they came up with the idea of a community kitchen series, where stories and ancestral connection are the main ingredients to seeing themselves as fully human, and futuring a world without borders. They modeled this with each other by re-creating dishes from their home countries and integrating a “fusion ingredient” from someone else’s home spice gallery, which creating a laboratory of connection and belonging even virtually. 

We thank Products of Design for collaborating with us on this important timely project, and are looking forward to future collaborations.

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