Interact Global Design Networks: Exploring Post-Disciplinary Design in a Global Context

The following is a summary of a paper presented at the Cumulus Paris 2018 Conference: To Get There – Designing Together 

Cumulus Paris 2018: To Get There - Designing Together - Programme

Cumulus Paris 2018: To Get There – Designing Together – Programme

Interact is an academic and student exchange project between four major institutions that explores the futures of design in the global context.

The first stage of the project took place between 2014 and 2017 across London College of Communication, University of the Arts (London), Danish School of Media and Journalism (Aarhus), Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (Melbourne) and Queensland University of Technology (Brisbane), the project draws on the abundance of knowledge and experience of interaction design in practice, research and pedagogy between the institutions and industry partners to develop new ways of collaborating and communicating across institutional, national and expertise borders.

The project affords for a diverse range of voices across countries, fields and levels of expertise to develop strategies for applying interaction design to combat anxiety about future uncertainty, imagining and building new opportunities. By encouraging a global vision for staff and students in the program the project aims to broaden vocabularies and carve out a shared language for design and its interlocutors. This language works in a future-facing way; able to tackle or at least reconcile anxieties in regard to the dramatically shifting geopolitical contexts that design is bound up in.

The significance of the project lies in imagining alternative futures of interaction design practice and research against the tendencies of contemporary geopolitics. The vision of Interact affords space and time for a global forum of students, academics and practitioners with interaction design as a universal language of practice. The project established and provided frameworks for new pedagogic and practice relationships between academics, students and industry that would allow for continued resilience through collaboration and sharing.

The first stage of the project concluded with a seminar at the London Design Festival in September where many of those involved were drawn together to develop outputs and begin next stages. Here we were able to deal in strategies that would enable the continuation of a global, anti-nationalistic design practice. We drew conclusions about the vitality of these kinds of ambitious international projects, their importance to the continued imagination, ambition and growth of design fields and their role in combating anxiety about future uncertainty.

Tobias Revell and Eva Verhoeven — UAL