ICS Seminar Series

Next Seminar

Date: Thursday 4 August 2016
Time: 11.30am–1pm
Venue: EE.G.36, Western Sydney University, Parramatta South campus

Abby Mellick Lopes

(Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University)

Design as an Ecological Practice

Abstract

Meditating on the gift of electric light, design philosopher Clive Dilnot observes that design gives us a human world. The gift of design isn't of the sort that can be placed in front of one or handed over from one to another. Artefacts of design don't come into their own as 'objects'. Once they find a place in our life-worlds, and we no longer look at them but live with them – use them, wear them, depend on them, make worlds in their light – their presencing work begins. They form the horizon and limit of the actual.

An understanding of design-as-object conceals the ecological character of designed things. As an applied rather than a fine art, design finds success in the achievement of ubiquity, which marks a point of disappearance and cultural forgetting. We tend to forget the extent to which human being is shaped by human making in the practice of everyday life. We tend to forget the multiple social, cultural and environmental injuries generated by designed objects, systems and infrastructures. As a social and material practice that prefigures future possibilities, design needs to take responsibility for both what it has made and unmade. Design as an ecological practice marks this becoming-critical of design.

This seminar will explore this ground via the thought of ontological design. Ontological design is a theory and critical practice that characterises the nature and agency of design as a fundamental human activity shaping the condition or behaviour of 'what is.' I will look at the hidden ecologies of design and how research is facilitating a critical engagement with the environments we have designed for ourselves. At this historical juncture where anthropogenic climate change confronts human being with the challenge of cultural change, grasping the ontological character of design has perhaps never been more important, for it contributes to the story of who we are and points to who we need to become.

Biography

Abby Mellick Lopes is Senior Lecturer in the Design (Visual Communication) program in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts at Western Sydney University, and a new School-based member of ICS. Abby's research focuses on design's role in facilitating transitions to more sustainable ways of living, most recently in projects exploring repair cultures with Dr Alison Gill and the liveability of Western Sydney in a climate-changed future, 'Cooling the Commons' with the Mapping Urban Resilience in the Riverland, Sydney (MURRS) group at ICS. Abby has published widely on design and sustainability, most recently contributing several chapters to The Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Design (2016). She is on the editorial board of Design Philosophy Papers and an associate of The Studio at the Edge of the World (opens in a new window).

^ Back to top

ICS Seminar Series - Deborah Stevenson

Date: Thursday 11 August ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series - James Goodman

Date: Thursday 18 August ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series - Sheree Gregory

Date: Thursday 25 August ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series - Sebastian Martin-Valdez

Date: Thursday 1 September ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series - Jessica Whyte

Date: Thursday 8 September ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series - Astrida Neimanis

Date: Thursday 15 September ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series - Grant Bollmer

Date: Thursday 22 September ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series - Emma Kowal

Date: Thursday 29 September ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series - Louise Crabtree, Liam Magee, Ann Hill and Emma Power

Date: Thursday 6 October ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series - Jenny Pickerill

Date: Thursday 13 October ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series - Cecelia Cmielewski

Date: Thursday 20 October ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series - Céline Granjou

Date: Thursday 27 October ...Read more.


Past 2016 Seminars

ICS Seminar Series - Denis Byrne

Date: Thursday 28 July ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series - Leah Gibbs

Date: Thursday 21 July ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series - Jack Parkin

Date: Thursday 14 July ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series – Tim Rowse and Emma Waterton

Date: Thursday 16 June ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series – Ece Kaya

Date: Thursday 9 June ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series – Megan Watkins

Date: Thursday 2 June ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series – Gerda Roelvink

Date: Thursday 26 May ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series – Amanda Third

Date: Thursday 19 May ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series – Ben Dibley and Gay Hawkins

Date: Thursday 12 May ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series – Daniel Miller

Date: Friday 6 May ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series – Timothy Neale, Juan F. Salazar, Catherine Phillips and Chris Vasantkumar

Date: Thursday 28 April ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series – Anna Pertierra

Date: Thursday 21 April ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series – Charlotte Lloyd

Date: Thursday 14 April ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series – Raj Isar, Ien Ang and Philip Mar

Date: Thursday 7 April ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series – Sukhmani Khorana

Date: Thursday 31 March ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series – John Cox

Date: Thursday 17 March ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series – Brett Neilson

Date: Thursday 10 March ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series – Declan Kuch

Date: Thursday 3 March ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series – Max Haiven

Date: Thursday 25 February ...Read more.

^ Back To Top
ICS Website Feedback

Feature Video

Watch Professor Ien Ang’s seminar presentation on Navigating Complexity: From Cultural Critique to Cultural Intelligence, which formed part of a special issue of the journal Continuum.

Three students listening to a seminar presentation.Seminar audience listening to a seminar presentation.

Handel Wright presenting at the ICS Seminar Series.

Handel Wright presents at the ICS Seminar Series. The photo shows attendees sitting around table.