Designing in Dark Times: An Arendtian Lexicon

Eduardo Staszowski and Virginia Tassinari (eds.)

Bloomsbury (2020)
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Developed in critical harmony with Arendt’s thinking and writing, the concept of designing in dark times put forward in this admirable project makes a welcome practical addition to the literature on Arendt and on thinking our times.

—Jerome Kohn, a Trustee of the Hannah Arendt Bluecher Literary Trust, has published several volumes of Arendt’s writings, the most recent Thinking Without a Banister (2018)

A provocative and timely intervention into the politics of design, this is the first book to bring Hannah Arendt’s ideas directly into critical conversation with the urgent questions of acting politically and designing today

—Alison Clarke is a University Professor and Director of the Papanek Foundation at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna.

Building on the revival of interest in Hannah Arendt, and on the increasing turn in design towards the expanded field of the social, this unique book uses insights and quotations drawn from Arendt’s major writings (The Human Condition; The Origins of Totalitarianism, Men in Dark Times) to assemble a new kind of lexicon for politics, designing and acting today.

Taking 56 terms—from Action to Violence—and inviting designers and scholars of design world-wide to contribute, Designing in Dark Times: An Arendtian Lexicon, offers up a range of short essays that use moments and quotations from Arendt’s thought as the starting points for reflection on how these terms can be con- ceived for contemporary design and political praxis.

With additional contributions by Arendt herself, Richard J. Bernstein, Kenneth Frampton and Martha Rosler, the lexicon brings together designing and political philosophy to begin to create a new language for acting and designing against dark times.

Eduardo Staszowski is Associate Professor of Design Strategies at Parsons School of Design and Director/Co-Founder of the Parsons DESIS Lab, where he works on enhancing participation in policy development and civic design.


Virginia Tassinari is a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Design and Philosophy at Politecnico di Milano and a Design Researcher for Pantopicon, an Antwerp-based foresight and design studio. Her research in design and philosophy has a specific focus on design for social innovation, participatory design and design activism.


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