A conversation between designers and educators Hayfaa Chalabi and Loana Gatti, discussing the underpinning norms of design.
In Correspondence is a moderated conversation between practitioners exploring feminist, decolonial, and anti-racist approaches to design education and practice. It aims to create dialogue through difference, with each conversation pairing positions from across cultural, geographical, and linguistic contexts. On Feb 22, 2023, we will host a discussion around norms, politics, and design with Hayfaa Chalabi and Loana Gatti, who will discuss how a normative gaze is reinforced in design practice and how we can resist it.
Often, the world seems to be designed for someone other than us – the majority of people. Nevertheless, the discourses of design’s presumed neutrality and universality still prevail in design education and practice, creating environments for the very few. Norm-critical perspective on design helps to reveal the underpinning sociopolitics of design. Pointing to power structures helps make visible and question discriminatory norms embedded in epistemologies and ways of teaching and practicing design. But what are the challenges of such critical practices in the classroom and professional life? What does this labor entail, and how to continue despite the hurdles of institutional life?
Hayfaa and Loana will share snippets from their experiences as students and, later on, educators and practitioners to discuss how we can resist the “universal” homogenizing and discriminatory norms and move towards pedagogies and practices that are critical, situated, reflexive, and socially transformative.
Hayfaa Chalabi (she/her) is an illustrator and storyteller interested in the role of illustration to re-contextualize narratives, histories, and discussions. She graduated with an MFA in Visual Communication from Konstfack – Stockholm, Sweden. Chalabi uses her power as an illustrator and storyteller to spark discussions about different socio-political issues. Her work revolves mainly around the misuse of power structures in our society and the intersections of visual culture, sexuality, gender, and migration. Currently, Chalabi works as a senior lecturer at the University of Arts in London (UAL).
Loana Gatti (she/her) is a pluridisciplinary artist, designer, and researcher whose practice focuses on critical pedagogy, agroecology, and their transformative effect. Rooted in ecopedagogy and participatory action research methodology, her work explores the potential of the school garden as a space for knowledge exchange, dialogue, and resistance. In addition to her artistic practice, Loana Gatti is deeply interested in food and its inherent social bonds, ecofeminist theory, and sustainable agriculture. Alumni of the HEAD (Geneva) and ECAL (Lausanne), Loana Gatti was part of the ICA (Kyoto) as a research fellow in 2022-23 and is currently living and working between Switzerland and Japan.
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