We need to talk.
The A+D community today is facing an unprecedented amount of backlash. You might think that, beholden as we are to the vicissitudes of commerce, our degree of agency is somewhat curtailed. And, in some cases this is true. There is, however, an extremely large degree to which the autonomy of the A+D community is actually growing from strength to strength.
Thanks to our friends across the Atlantic, landmark legislation surrounding the intellectual property of design has finally granted us with a fully equipped arsenal of tools for self-protection. Now that we’re finally making grounds on doing away with ‘the replica’ (and all errant forms of shady profiteering that market has bred), we now look to our involvement in other spheres of stakeholder engagement. Our participation in the private, public and even commercial spheres is suddenly under an almost crippling level of scrutiny.
But this is not a bad thing in the very least. In what is undoubtedly an overdue turn in the pedagogical and socio-political thinking around A+D, we are now increasingly aware of our own complicity in what can sometimes be the dark underbelly of our industry. While we inch closer and closer to a more holistic standard of responsibility in architecture and design, I am starting to feel it is only appropriate that we take a moment to give ourselves the third degree. Has anyone stopped to think about what the new directions we’re taking might just actually mean?
Borrowing its name from Charles Kingsley’s seminal 1855 novel, Contemporary is bringing a series of hot-topic panel discussions to the West for Contemporary Wine In Design, October 15th. Entitled Westward Ho! these seminars are imbued with as much spirit and reflection as Kingsley’s tale of adventure, the New World and the inquisitive nature of reaching out to new frontiers. Butting in on the design discussion across Western Australia, these lively and heated industry talks put a spotlight on A+D in a wholly new way. Surrounding topics relevant to the disciplines and professions of A+D today, the foci may be West Coast, but the insightfulness is valid worldwide.
So, are you ready? Here’s a taste:
East v West
Design discussion often throws the words ‘collaboration’ and ‘co-operation’ around a little too recklessly. In Western Australia, the word ‘competition’ should be added to the mix. The focus and hype around A+D in this country is undeniably skewed in favour of the East Coast. But what does the West do differently? What is the distinction between the two orientations toward design? What can we learn?
Design Democracy: ! or ?
The way the public perceives design is often very different to how the industry perceives it. This comes as no shock whatsoever. With huge projects like the New Museum or the revamped Perth Stadium on the cards, the design discussion in WA is not in the studio: it’s on the street. What does designing for the public sphere actually mean? Is this the only public? Meanwhile, in Europe, there is heated debate on the designer-side too. With landmark legislation that attempts to finally do away with ‘the replica’, democracy in design has come full circle to include the producer-side as well. When we talk about democracy in design, just how far-reaching are the ramifications?
Looking backward, moving forward, Perth’s cityscape has a unique architectural identity. But, alongside massive redevelopments of some of the city’s old icons – The Treasury, Allendale Square, the Walsh Family Residence – we have to think about what architecture is worth protecting. How important is creating or maintaining an architectural identity? How much of a role should architects and designers have in the story of Perth’s identity?
With the increased investment in Western Australia’s cultural and civil infrastructure, we have to ask what our A+D community is doing that seems to be getting the world’s attention. Tourism on the West Coast is growing from strength to strength annually, and the unique skyline of Perth is luring visitors from all over the globe. What did A+D do that has helped make Perth an international destination? How have they done this? Or, simply, why?
With full CPD accreditation, the biggest names in A+D today, and the most controversial issues we’re currently facing, be sure to register your attendance at Contemporary Wine In Design here.
Contemporary Wine In Design
Words by David Congram.