Organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial will be held from 22 September to 4 November 2018. Curator Jan Boelen announced the concept and open call at a press meeting held on Thursday, 12 October at Salon İKSV.
The press meeting was attended by İKSV Chairman Bülent Eczacıbaşı, Director of the Istanbul Design Biennial Deniz Ova and Curator of the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial Jan Boelen, as well as members of the press, academics, and design and architecture professionals.
In his welcome speech, İKSV Chairman Bülent Eczacıbaşı said: “Design, which permeates every layer of our life, is critically important both as a source of power and as an instrument for questioning, thinking and learning. From the outset, the Istanbul Design Biennial has sought to contribute to the enrichment of design thought by providing a world-class, productive platform for thinking critically about design. The 4th Istanbul Design Biennial, which will take place in 2018, will ask crucial, globally relevant questions about design, explore new models of production and exhibition, and approach both design practices and the biennial itself with a new perspective. I hope that this biennial will be a source of inspiration for both the public and creative professionals and contribute significantly to our intellectual and cultural life. I would also like to express our warmest gratitude to all the private and public institutions that are contributing to the realization of the biennial.”
A conversation about the concept, A School of Schools, between Deniz Ova and Jan Boelen followed. Covering the challenges faced by design education in today’s changing world, the conversation turned to the role of a design biennial and how it can be used as an experimental space for alternative approaches to design education. Both reflected on how the next edition of the Istanbul Design Biennial can build on the previous editions to create a sustainable legacy for the initiative.
In 2018, the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial will seek to consolidate the legacies of previous editions, and reinvent the biennial format into a productive process-orientated platform for researching, experimenting and learning. A School of Schools will manifest as a multi-platform biennial that uses, tests, and revises a variety of educational strategies to reflect on the role of design, knowledge, and global connectedness in contemporary Istanbul and beyond. The biennial will stretch both the space and time of the traditional design event, manifesting as a flexible year-long programme within which to respond to global acceleration, generating alternative methodologies, outputs and forms of design and education.
Initiating an open call from 12 October, A School of Schools invites a broad range of designers and thinkers from around the world to explore eight themes: Measures and Maps, Time and Attention, Mediterranean and Migration, Disasters and Earthquakes, Food and Customs, Patterns and Rhythm, Currency and Capital, and Parts and Pockets. Focusing on the process as much as the outcomes, the biennial aims to create new knowledge, search for alternatives to implemented systems, and with radical diversity, push the boundaries of the design discipline.
The open call is extended to all designers, architects, scientists, engineers, chefs, craftspeople, activists and everyone else, who would either like to propose or participate in a school or learning experiment. The deadline for submissions is: 15 December 2017.
For the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial Jan Boelen is teaming up with Vera Sacchetti as Associate Curator and Nadine Botha as Assistant Curator.
The amount of information in the world is more than doubling every two years. People know more than ever before. Lifelong learning is touted as the only way to keep a job and keep your head. Chalk and talk, and reciting multiplication tables has no chance against the animated distractions in our pockets. Meanwhile, the machines themselves have started learning too. What will be left for humans to do and which mental faculties remain irreplaceable are hot topics. Is it time to go back to school – and redesign it?
Alternative design education initiatives have consistently provided a brave space for experimentation and new knowledge, from the Bauhaus to Black Mountain College, and from Global Tools to the Sigma Group. These initiatives have not only helped design evolve, question itself and push its own boundaries, but also education and learning in general. Not only concerned with design, many of these experiments have also tested alternative ways of living, working, and connecting with each other and ourselves. Through this process-based experiential research, new manifestations, meanings, and implications of design have surfaced.
Today, design has become a form of enquiry, power and agency. It has become vaster than the world and life itself, permeating all layers of everyday life. As design becomes pervasive, the discipline can no longer claim to offer solutions to everything. In fact, the one-size-fits-all approach of many universal global systems is showing its cracks and exclusions. Similarly, design education – where the field and its practitioners have traditionally been reviewed and refined – now finds itself navigating new constraints and challenges regarding relevance, adaptability, accessibility, and finances.
As a space for critical reflection on design established in a historically rich context, the Istanbul Design Biennial offers the opportunity to question the very production and replication of design and its education. In 2018, the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial builds on the legacy of previous editions, in order to reinvent itself and become a productive process-orientated platform for education and design to research, experiment and learn in and from the city and beyond.
Titled A School of Schools, the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial will stretch both the space and time of the traditional design event, manifesting as a flexible year-long programme within which to respond to global acceleration, generating alternative methodologies, outputs and forms of design and education. A School of Schools manifests as a set of dynamic learning formats encouraging creative production, sustainable collaboration, and social connection. Exploring eight themes, the learning environment is a context of empowerment, reflection, sharing and engagement, providing reflexive responses to specific situations. Can the biennial use, question and reframe previously tried-and-tested education models – from the museum-as-encyclopedia to the laboratory, the studio and the academy – to create a setting for meaningful dialogue and design? Can design itself be a brave space for people to share their knowledge and ignorance, their experience and curiosity?
Engaging multigenerational, transdisciplinary practitioners from Turkey and abroad, A School of Schools brings together old and new knowledge, academic and amateur, professional and personal, focusing on the process as much as the outcomes. Together, agents in this complex and ambitious ecosystem will create new knowledge, search for alternatives to implemented systems, and with radical diversity, push the boundaries of the design discipline.
Open Call: Learning from Learning at A School of Schools
An open call is extended to all designers, architects, scientists, engineers, chefs, craftspeople, activists and everyone else. Fuelled by a research and process-orientated approach, A School of Schools will manifest in a variety of formats in many locations, in addition to the six-week intensive in Istanbul from 22 September to 4 November 2018.
Divided into a call for ‘schools’ and a call for ‘learners’, the open call is twofold. The format of a school is open for interpretation – from a one hour class or tutorial, to an online network or alternative university; from in situ observation and other methodologies, to critical schools of thought. The learners are anyone who would like to participate in a school, and can demonstrate an openness to discovery and transformation, regardless of design expertise, background or experience. The biennial will endeavour to address matters of financial support and other accessibility issues but encourages resourcefulness.
Both learners and schools are urged to connect their applications to one or more of the themes under scrutiny for the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial. Besides those who demonstrate a capacity and passion for learning, A School of Schools will give preference to proposals that are committed to not only learning but translating the learning into a communicable form.