Online Conference, 25-26 March 2021 | SDN Symposium
SDN Symposium
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10:30 - 12:00


Commoning, Urbanism, Critique, Collaboration, Alternative Economies, Modelling, Toys

Commoning is a multifaceted way of communal living, promoting democratization, self-determination, autonomy and environmental sustainability. It aims for non-capitalist modes of production, living and learning together. Commoning as a form of design becomes a common good or resource, if you will, which is owned and organized by an open community of stakeholders and not a private entity or the state. The question of the role of design for commoning processes is thus at least twofold: How can design support and mediate commoning in practical but also experimental and speculative ways? And how can design itself as a practice and field of knowledge be opened up as a commoning practice?
The panel consists of five contributions. We would like to experiment with the format and explore a visual map of our papers, which we will present in a prepared conversation-style. There are opportunities to ask questions during and after our conversation.

Panel speakers

Presented papers

  • Toy Stories for the Common Good

    by Athina Fousteri, George Liamadis

    Design in the 21st century, has as its pointers: participation and collaboration, open-endedness and aims to social change. This paper seeks to explore what common good can entail through the perspective of toy objects designed for/with/by children. Toys as artefacts encode various ideologies and transmit meaningful stories. The connection between toys and the common good, can be investigated through those ‘toy stories’ as they can open the way to two different narrations, one engaging social impact and another aiming for social change. Six case studies are closely selected and classified on the basis of their form to realistic and abstract, and in terms of their function to prefixed and open-ended. Advocating for open-ended and abstract toys, it is argued that letting children imagine and create our world and be the designers of their future will undoubtedly be for the common good.

  • Spaces of Commoning: Critical Reflection on Urban Commons (in ex-Yugoslavia)

    by Jovana Timotijevic, Iva Čukić

    With the imperative of constant economic growth, cities and their development have become paradigms for the intensive exploitation of resources and accumulation of capital. Decrease in urban public spaces and their privatization, residential segregation, prioritization of construction investments over public interest – all have transformed city planning, which is often unable to perceive and push for alternative solutions against the overexploitation of urban territory and the increase in inequalities, caused by the very logic that drives the political economy of today. As a response to ongoing processes within neoliberal capitalism, the commons in urban contexts have thus (re)emerged as a potential driver of wider socio-economic transformation. The ex-Yugoslav region also reflects these global tendencies, but with some specific features. This paper aims to critically reflect upon this specific context through analysis of contemporary spatial processes that challenge the contemporary economic logic and power relations, through presenting part of the study conducted in Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro.

  • Telling Stories on Commoning with Design of Models and Simulations

    by Selena Savić, Yann Patrick Martins

    This paper will present learnings from a 4-year SNSF-funded research project (2018-2021), exploring commoning initiatives through regular exchange with three housing cooperatives from Switzerland. In close cooperation with them, we developed four agent-based models as visions for dividing up work needed to care for common spaces and resources in a sustainable way. We affirm computational modelling as a design praxis that can address commoning as a world-making activity, and explore mechanisms that would challenge or restore the stability of community life simulated in this way. Our models are not to be understood as prediction-oriented systems, but rather as a process of designing thinking tools, or toys by which we are creating ways of being. What kinds of controls can prevent extraction of resources from the community? What personal strategies bring more harmony to the group and how much does individual behaviour affect it? We address these questions and propose some preliminary conclusions about the entanglements of labour with value extraction in commoning activities that are best addressed through stories.

  • Digital Tools for Collaborative Design Processes

    by Moritz Greiner-Petter, Merle Ibach

    Diverse practices of collaboration in design, research, teaching, or academia increasingly rely on digital online tools to facilitate processes of working and creating together. But a lot of the available digital platforms are not necessarily designed with the particular needs of these respective practices in mind. Rather, they might focus on commercial contexts, be built on limiting assumptions about work practices and collaboration, or simply lack capabilities for a substantial support of specific knowledge and creative practices within more diverse collaborative settings. In this paper, we take an exemplary look at three widely-used digital collaboration tools and their capacities and limitations to support collaborative design processes in particular. We aim to highlight a few of their embedded dispositions and built-in understandings of collaboration, creativity or productivity and suggest some aspirations for alternative designs.

  • Re-Imagining Commoning Infrastructures and Economies

    by Viktor Bedö, Shintaro Miyazaki

    Today’s sensing and computing capacity creates new potentials for material commons, commons that are not merely digital and which need to be transported between sites of productions and sites of use. The management of material commons, for example distributed cooperative power production or food rescue operations, has logistic and on larger scale economic implications. Today we lack obvious recipes for translating new technological affordances into design principles that allow for the injection of the values of commoning into the infrastructures organizing the commons. This paper investigates the kind of imaginaries in combination with situated design exploration that are relatable to everyday life but at the same time trigger relevant discussions about underlying infrastructural and economic layers. The paper outlines an example for a participatory design research format that builds on an infrastructural and economic design fiction and playfully engages with everyday urban life.