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'The Future is Not What it Used to Be'

Under the overarching title The Future is Not What it Used to Be, the 2nd Istanbul Design Biennial asks, “What is the future now?” The Biennial invites designers to rethink the manifesto, harnessing this powerful and fertile genre as a platform for reconsidering where we have come from, where we are, and where we are going.

Throughout history, manifestos have functioned as statements of purpose, stimulating dialogue without limitations and pursuing inquiry as a radical process. Manifestos have typically been produced as texts that lie somewhere between declaration and desire. In the new context of today, how can we reclaim the manifesto as a catalyst for critical thinking in design? Reinvented as an action, a service, a provocation, or an object, what new potentials might the manifesto have for generating inventive outcomes that address both positive and negative consequences?

Istanbul, a city undergoing rapid transformation, is a hub for alternative thinking about design and its relationship to daily life. It is therefore an ideal place for a biennial that will bring together a diverse cross section of design ideas for the emerging conditions of our world. Using the city as a dynamic space for projects, talks, workshops, publications, and actions (as well as generating online initiatives), the biennial will present an international range of projects that open up new attitudes and sensibilities, foregrounding underexplored or overlooked aspects of society, and prompting investigation and exchange about our designed, constructed, and digitized age.

The word “manifesto” is derived from the Latin verb manifestare, which means “to bring into the open, to make manifest” and refers to the act of making visible. Manifestos emerge at moments of rapid change and questioning, when present conditions afford multiple potential visions for the future. Productive moments in history are not for the faint of heart. Indeed, many early-twentieth-century manifestos favored collective action and called for violence, destruction, and societal rupture to allow for a fresh start (Futurist Manifesto, F.T. Marinetti, 1909; Ornament and Crime, Adolf Loos, 1910). Others have employed the manifesto to rethink disciplines through site-specific analysis (Learning from Las Vegas, Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour, 1972) or to conflate the past and the present to form a new portrait of the world in which we live (Delirious New York, Rem Koolhaas, 1976). Still others have suggested best practices or alternative methodologies (Ten Principles for Good Design, Dieter Rams, 1980s;Critical Design, Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby, 1999). As diverse as the designers who have created them, design manifestos have addressed issues as far ranging as ecology, science fiction, sustainability, play, color, clothing, responsibility, urbanism, normalism, DIY, storytelling, alternative methodologies, open source, and pesto!

As the 20th century came to an end, however, there was a sense that the age of the manifesto was over. Manifestos were deemed outdated and historical; the utopian project no longer seemed current or relevant. As we move further into the 21st century, new languages, forms, and methods are being sought to readdress urgent challenges, particularly the global balance of equality. It is therefore an appropriate time to reconsider the manifesto, harnessing its declarative power and ability to frame pertinent questions, while rethinking what a manifesto can be.

Seeding ideas and fostering dialogue and debate, the biennial will feature new commissions and projects selected through a two-stage call for ideas (see below for more information). The biennial will embrace designs that are visionary yet grounded in everyday realities—projects whose innovative approaches are transforming how we see, interact with, and understand the world. The biennial will articulate a portrait of design activity today, mapping the often unexpected ways the field intersects with contemporary life: with basic human needs such as food, shelter, health, and safety, but also with less tangible issues, including love, play, fear, discord, abundance, sustainability, mobility, accessibility, community, and geopolitics.

We are looking for manifestos (whether texts, actions, services, objects, or something else) that imagine a new future and instigate change by building on and reinterpreting history, changing both in the process. Rather than merely highlighting large claims and loud voices, the biennial seeks nuanced and layered approaches, manifestos that question the role of design and suggest alternatives from multiple points of view, generations, and places. Neither a means to an end, nor an end in itself, the biennial encourages interaction and participation. This is an occasion to explore the changing scope of design across various fields of practice and to shed light on current global challenges.
Designers, we need you! The biennial invites designers and others to declare, whisper, formulate, demonstrate, recuperate, pop-up, crowd source, duplicate, and/or fabricate their points of view, defining new possibilities and points of urgency for design in the 21st century and beyond, and emphasizing the complex but essential relationship between design and everyday life.

Zoë Ryan, Curator, 2nd Istanbul Design Biennial
Meredith Carruthers, Associate Curator, 2nd Istanbul Design Biennial


CALL FOR DESIGN MANIFESTOS
A critical reading of design manifestos of the past two decades reveals a complex, interdisciplinary set of approaches that address issues as diverse as ecology, science fiction, sustainability, play, color, clothing, responsibility, urbanism, normalism, DIY, storytelling, alternative methodologies, open source, and pesto!

But what are contemporary design manifestos?

Are they quicker, lighter, cheaper, faster? Are they wily, canny, curious? Do they recuperate ideas from the past—and from the present? Are they responsive: looking to the periphery but also mining the center? Are they empathetic: fostering new relationships between people and information, objects, rituals, and services? Are they composite: borrowing from multiple sources and questioning hierarchies? Do they advocate: catalyzing social infrastructures toward new goals?

We seek manifestos (whether texts, actions, services, objects, or something else) that open up new attitudes and sensibilities, highlight underexplored or overlooked aspects of society, and prompt further investigation and exchange about our designed and constructed age. We are looking for submissions that imagine a new future and instigate change by building on and reinterpreting history, changing both in the process. With your contributions, we hope to generate an alternate portrait of the future—one that is layered and nuanced, represents multiple points of view, acknowledges both positive and negative outcomes, and includes ideas from multiple generations and places—while emphasizing the important role that design plays in furthering our understanding of, and engagement with, the world around us.

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The Istanbul Design Biennial encourages individuals from any design-related field or background to contribute. We are interested in receiving manifestos in all forms, including, but not limited to, images, animations, videos, graphics, diagrams, and/or text. Ultimately the form of each contribution should be determined by whatever most effectively communicates the idea.

To submit your design manifesto, fill in the form HERE and please respond HERE until 1 February 2014. For attachments exceeding 25MB please use online fire sharing services.

Please click here for the 2nd Istanbul Design Biennial theme.