The NO-CHAIR-DESIGN Campaing is essentially about causing an impact without doing anything. Instead of designing innovations to solve ecological challenges it looks at what we can afford NOT to do inorder to meet minimum standars for sustainability. It kind of resembles Zen teachings: Act without doing Etc. Perhaps this kind of zen attitude of passive resistance is also manifested in Gandhis politics. Instead of attacking, he remained motioneless which was more disarming agains the brute forces he and he’s peers faced. I can see links to this in tai- ji and kung-fu: using the force of the opponets attack agains him/her self. In this case “making de-growth fun”. But I also noticed a western link to the idea of NO-DESIGN. As a performance artist I have focused my practice to understanding what effects our behaviour and constructs our normes. For example what causes people to consider some gestures to be bad behaviour in certain situations – And funny in others. Like jokes based on stereotypes or race
With my Brazilian friend I have no problem talking about the fat asses or girls in the beach but with his wife this does not work even as I have known her longer then the husband. The important question here is that what kind of social structures are enforced by these norms. What do I or we gain when starting a macho dialogue with the husband and intentionally provoking the wife. Why do we need to construct gender stereotype based tentions. (erotics?) Getting back to the point: Radical feminism has show that we manifest our ideological believes with; Not only what we say and do – But also what we do NOT say or do. There have been powerfull women leader in the history but they are not mentioned in some history books. Effectively we are NOT talking about women at all in some situations. We use some words like chairMAN as if only men would be sitting on chairs. With such words we are crafting a society which “would be best to be run by men” as there isn’t even space for women in our language. The same applies to race as feministic theory has shown that we forge our viewpoint by not looking at what we see. Slave owners chose not to see their slaves as human etc. For constructing believes and societies the not is possibly even more important what is said. The unspoken norms are the most powerfull ones. I am manifestin my ideological believes by NOT-DESIGNING and thus crafting a mindset which does not include innovation over the maintenance of the old. So I am using stradegies which patriarchal societies have utilized since the dawn of modernism – but agains modernistick believes. NO-DESIGN is passive resistance. I’d like call it a feministic design campaing for de-growth. But this idea is fresh and I’m not sure what it would mean. A simple way of looking at the campaing is as CULTURE JAMMING. The theory here is that modern societies could be looked as systems. For example the consumer industry looks at what people buy inorder to make the “right” kinds of products. Consumers cause an input by buying something. This input is noted in the stock of the store and store owners get to know that a particular product is popular. They buy more of these items and manufactorers end up producing more of it. The point in this theory is in the flow of information. Parties involved in consumer goods selling, transport and production are dependent on consumer input to know what would be good to produce. So when it comes to organic food the industry and its allies look at the amout of organic food people buy inorder to calculate the amount of investements would be smart to make in organic food production.
Eventually we do not see a lot of organic food commercials on tv or on the streets. This is because it is much safer to invest money in commercials which promote lifestyles linked to spesific products that are know to sell (like sugar and beef). The idea in culture jamming is to reroute information. So for example a commercial showing happy children eating at a franshice hamburger restaurant is turned into picture of happy children zombies eating children working in meat industry owned factories. Ideally this would rerout consumer energy into something else. With NO-DESING we are attempting to block a flow of information. The design industry thinks it needs to design new chairs because people buye new chairs and they hire designers to design new chairs according to changes in consumer behaviour.
Designers know this and young generations send drawing of innovative chair desing to industry giants, partisipate in design competition (some of which only suck new ideas from students) and rent spaces to present their design at fares etc. The result is that we have designs for chairs to meet a millenia of culture. We need to challenge ourselfs as designers to NOT partisipate in this mode.
The NCD-C or NO-CHAIR-DESIGN Campaign is going well. I am really happy that we have been featured on Instructables and that some 600 people have read the tutorial on how NOT to design chairs there. But only a fraction of people reading the material we provide have taken the time to come on our site and fill the on site form. Something must be done to solve this. Stuff needs to be packaged in a more nicer way. Perhaps a direct link to the form should be included in the emails we have send to promote the project.
Pushing the project into different kinds of social medias has promoted the cause but this is messing how the project is handled. We now have some 10 different site to maintain and update.
To help with entropy in the project some kind of solid and absolute manifesto would be useful.
Experience has show that when inviting people to take part in something a project should NOT be called art (because people are bored with art) nor should it be framed politically (because people will think the project will narrow their possibilities in the future) and possibly the most inspiring design project have not been framed as design but something else. The more easy a complicated project is explained the better the outcome. Humour in solves near all issues.
But but I cant hide the cultural agenda we are working for. I have not tried to put my finger on it… What would really happen if designers would not develop new chairs… What kind of utopia is this project working for. Just to contemplate on these questions I think it would be nice to create some kind of manifesto
Please join the development!