Design! Objects Processes Experiences Narratives

The University of Parma through the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences and Cultural Industries and CSAC (The Study Centre and Communication Archive) with the collaboration of the Department of Philosophy and Communication Studies of the University of Bologna, the Department of Humanities of the University of Palermo, the Department of Design of Politecnico di Milano, the Department of Engineering Enzo Ferrari of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia will host the international conference Design! OPEN. The aim is to stimulate and open a critical debate on the multidisciplinary aspects of design starting from the four “dimensions” stated in the title: objects, processes, experiences and narratives, which are also represented by the acronym in the logo of the event.

The conference

The conference is deliberately titled after the exhibition curated by CSAC that took place at the Abbey of Paradigna. CSAC, through its immense archives, carries out an ongoing reflection on the role of archives in modernity and contemporaneity and, in the framework of the program of Parma Capital of Culture 2020+21, it created a path through the history of Italian design in the second half of the 20th century, while also opening some questions on contemporary perspectives. In this sense, the conference will retrieve some of the tenets of the exhibition and also further develop the first outcomes of the discussion initiated in that occasion a book that will be published in 2022. The main areas of interest of the exhibition were: “Memory and the Future” and “The Tools of Design and the Languages of Representation”.

Now, the conference, by drawing from the questions brought about by the exhibition aims at further investigating them and also bringing to the fore topics that weren’t openly addressed and that are yet at the center of the multidisciplinary debate on design. It will do so with both the analysis of concrete case studies and theoretical and methodological proposals aimed at highlighting the “multiverse” character of design. The tenets of the conference, i.e., objects, processes, experiences and narratives will hence also correspond to the sessions through which the event will be articulated.

The tracks that are the subject of the call and the conference are therefore:

-Objects. Design as focused on the object, on its functional and symbolic dimension, and at the same time on the object as a tool for representing cultures;

-Processes. The designer’s self-reflective moment which is focused on the analysis and on the definition of processes in various contexts, spanning innovation, social engagement, reflection on emergencies or forecasting.

-Experiences. Design as a theoretical and practical strategy aimed at facilitating experiential interactions among people, people and objects or environments.

-Narratives. Making history, representing through different media, archiving, narrating, and exhibiting design.

Each session will be opened by the following invited keynote speakers:

-Objects: Andrea Mecacci (University of Florence), Jane Forsey (University of Winnipeg)

-Processes: Jeffrey Schnapp (Harvard University)

-Experiences: Marc Hassenzhal (University of Siegen), Jocelyn Spence (University of Nottingham)

-Narratives: Uwe Brückner (FHNW Academy of Art and Design in Basel, Studio Uwe Brückner), Mirko Zardini (Ex director of the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA), Montreal)

Con il patrocinio di

Con il patrocinio di


Design! OPEN is a conference that aims to stimulate and open a critical debate on the multidisciplinary aspects of design starting from four “dimensions”: objects, processes, experiences and narratives.





Alice Biancardi | Raffaella Trocchianesi