Not the least of the sins of the obsession with the “research” in the contemporary university is that it unreflectively privileges the appearance of the new. Failing to see the extent to which its own thinking is thereby hobbled and limited, understanding turns in even narrower circles of concern. Design is not immune to this condition. Expansion in practice and the global increase in numbers of those with design education or who study design has not necessarily brought with it increased understanding of design. On the contrary, despite real attempts to counter these impulses, reduced to the crudest understanding of vocation, depth of thought disappears, crises remain untouched, genuinely new practices and conceptions struggle to be comprehended.
Radical Thinkers in Design, a moment of the wider project Designing in Dark Times seeks in a small way to try to address this situation. The project is to bring back into circulation, as provocations and aids to thinking, some key texts in contemporary thinking on designing.
As acting in the world descends ever deeper towards instrumentalism these books offer a counter view. In what they open towards, what they explore and present, above all in what they anticipate, they point to the concrete possibilities, as well as to the necessity, of paradigm-shifts in design thinking and in our conceptions of what designing today can and should be. They offer approaches, concepts, modes of thinking and models of practice that can help not only in thinking how design can be re-thought and re-positioned in its internal momentum, but how it offers an integral mode and capacity of acting in the world. By showing how, at base, designing contains irreplaceable critical and affirmative moments, they point us towards ways of reversing some of the negative and destructive tendencies threatening to engulf the world.