As a queer intersectional feminist platform, Futuress strives to be a home for the people, histories, and perspectives that have been—and still often remain—underrepresented, oppressed, and ignored.
News & Collaborations
As a queer, intersectional feminist platform, building alliances is key to us. Check out our latest collaborations and partnerships!
Since the beginning of the year, Brazilian designers Tereza Bettinardi and Lucas D’Ascenção have lent their magic to our social media presence. Their beautiful templates help us spotlight our new texts, announce events, feature projects, share book recommendations, and more. We are now expanding this visual experience: departing from a design and concept by Studio Amanda Haas, Lucas and Tereza have redesigned our entire website. Their vision is being implemented by the one and only Morgan Brown, our reliable programmer since the days when Futuress was still only a speculative library of unwritten books. (Pssst… also, by popular demand, we’ve brought our beta website back to life, and you can add your idea for a future Futuress book at library.futuress.org!) We are working vigorously behind the scenes to tidy up everything and whip it into shape, so please bear with us if you unexpectedly find any pesky 404 bugs!
The multidisciplinary jury who reviewed our work was impressed by the broad range of formats and offerings, including workshops, lectures, fellowships, and of course, our beloved texts. In their words: “Futuress contributes to expanding design discourse at national and international level at a critical moment in the history of the discipline.” The award is one of the oldest and most prestigious prizes in Switzerland, and comes with a hefty check of CHF 25,000, which will go a long way towards further developing our platform! We are beyond humbled by this recognition and re-energized to keep improving. Thanks a billion to everyone who helped us reach this goal, especially Romi Lee, Tereza Bettinardi, Mayar El-Bakry, Eva Böhlen, Cherry-Ann Davis, Noemi Parisi, Heba Daghistani, Sherine Salla, and so many others who continuously support our work. Watch the short video produced specially for the occasion on our Vimeo account!
We are thrilled to announce our new long-term collaboration: CROSSINGS—TRAVESSIAS. Together with the Brazilian publishing platform Piseagrama, we will be working together to translate into English a series of Afro-Brazilian, indigenous and LGBTQIA+ texts, originally published in Portuguese by Piseagrama. Founded in 2010, Piseagrama is an open-access, non-profit publishing platform, whose mission is to catalyze urgent ideas, build bridges between fields of knowledge, and bring people together to imagine possible futures in alliance with LGBTQIA+, Afro-Brazilian, indigenous, peasant, and urban resistance collectives. As a first collective effort, CROSSINGS—TRAVESSIAS has been inaugurated with Becoming Savage, an essay by Indigenous activist and educator Jerá Guarani, in which she reflects on the alarming conditions of planet Earth brought about by so-called “civilized” people. The text has originally been published in 2020 by Piseagrama.
Our Futuress team has gone through some c-c-c-c-changes yet again! Sadly, our beloved powerhouse Cherry-Ann Davis has left Futuress to focus on her own research. Cherry has been part of Futuress almost since its inception: first as a participant of the first Troublemakers Class of 2020, and then as a crucial part of the team co-facilitating workshops and helping our fellows craft their texts—always with her joyful energy, sharp wit, and fierce grit. She will be sorely missed! We do, however, have some happy news as well—Franca López Barbera will be our new Associate Editor, shaping and refining our texts for publication with her sharp eye and love for commas. Franca is an Argentinian designer and researcher based in Berlin, and she, too, joined Futuress as a fellow in the Troublemakers Class of 2020. Since then, she has been giving lectures and publishing texts on Futuress, exploring the intersection between nature, coloniality, and ethics.
We’re changing the way we structure our learning programs! In addition to the lecture series accompanying our fellowship program and curated under one topic, we will now offer various new formats, each focusing on a different topic within our main course: design politics. From March 2022 onwards, we will take deep-dives into various topics in our Futuress Keynotes, open the space for discussion on urgent issues in our Roundtables, and spark conversation on design teaching in our “Educators in Correspondence” format. Dedicated to opening design education to a broad audience, all events will be free of charge and published in the form of recordings and transcripts on our Futuress website! Save the date for our upcoming events: a Futuress Keynote by designer and researcher Lesley-Ann Noel, a Designers in Correspondence discussion with Tanveer Ahmed and Lauren Williams, and a Futuress Keynote by artist and designer Luiza Prado!
The Void by Maya Ober has been republished by The Funambulist in their 40th issue! The Funambulist engages with the politics of space and bodies. Through articles, interviews, artworks, design projects, a podcast, and the bi-monthly magazine, the platform assembles an ongoing archive for anti-colonial, anti-racist, queer, and feminist struggles. The March issue “From Settler Colonial Property to Landback” deals with land as the primary object of the decolonizing struggle. From Australia, British Columbia, Palestine, Kenya, Ecuador, Alaska, the Caribbean, Turtle Island, Sudan, and Pakistan, the issue looks at settler colonial land dispossession and political strategies to reassert Indigenous sovereignties. In “The Void,” Maya Ober explores the void of feminist Yiddish publications in Polish archives, reflecting on the frictions between feminist values and Zionism as a colonialist and racist ideology.
How do maps represent the world? What ontologies lie behind the seemingly objective design of world maps, and how can the world be imagined otherwise? These are some of many questions that Sherina Salla addresses in South is Up—On subjective worlds, alternative Earths, and map projections. In her text, Sherine looks at various world maps, from 12th-century Arabic maps based on oral tradition, to Medieval European cartography informed by the centering of Christianity, to contemporary explorations of bringing the earth’s spherical body to the flat surface of a map. We are very excited that the piece got republished as “Contemplations about map orientations” in the February newsletter of the Sign Design Society! The Sign Design Society is a platform that focuses on the design of information, and offers talks and publications across various disciplines includingtypography, products, architecture, translation technology, and mapping.
The 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan were preceded by a series of racist and sexist outrages. These incidents revealed how profoundly sports are embedded in oppressive body norms and a binary notion of gender. The Dark Side of Pictograms by Mujgan Abdulzade explores how these multiple systems of oppression are perpetuated in sports—particularly in the Olympics—and how these conceptions are reflected and manifested through pictograms. In December, Mujgan’s article was republished in Femiskop, a platform co-founded by four women from Azerbaijan. The collective aims to create feminist content in the Azerbaijani language, amplifying the voices of Azeri feminists, and unifying its audience through common views and struggles. Their articles and research dissect how different forms of oppression affect our society.
On December 4, our tight-knit community around Basel gathered to celebrate together our pan-religious Futuress Hannukkah—Day of Iansã—Xmas—End of the Year meal. The dinner honored our different cultures and culinary genealogies, with a broad array of dishes originating from the Brazilian coast, through the islands of Trinidad and Tobago, enriched with the flavors of the Ashkenazi diaspora, and topped off with Western Asian relish, and scrumptious delicacies akin to the palate of Japanese food stalls. Thank you to everyone who joined and shared these beautiful moments of being together in real life (IRL)—away from our usual barriers of screens—and in particular, we extend thanks to Gabriela Aquije Zegarra and the Food Culture Lab for their hospitality!
A Line Which Forms A Volume #5 explores how the act of leaning on, with, and into a research topic can be regarded as a form of care for the complexities of contemporary society. It approaches the idea of leaning from a particular perspective: the encounter between care and radical transparency in design research. Alongside Bryony Quinn, Intersections of Care, Ramon Tejada, and the participants of the MA Graphic Media Design course at London College of Communication, U.K. Futuress was delighted to contribute to this publication! Does Design Care? was first published in Alter-Care, the 2021 Porto Design Biennale journal, then republished online on our Futuress website, and now it has been reprinted in the 5th issue of ALWFAV! In the text, Cherry-Ann Davis and Nina Paim examine the role of the term “care” in the design field and why, under its benign banner, design sometimes inflicts more harm to the communities it wishes to elevate.
Our colorful Feminist Findings zine by the L.i.P. Collective has been touring the globe and speaking new languages! It was recently on display at the “Hard Copy Soft Touch” exhibition in Milan, Italy! Each of the involved realities in the exhibition has a peculiar approach to the subject of the archive and how it feeds and evolves depending on the collaborations, contributions, and methods of access and interaction with the public between offline/online dimensions. On display with Futuress were Archivo de la Memoria Trans from Aregntina, Centro di Documentazione Aldo Miel from Carrarai, Compulsive Archive from Milano, Queer Reads Library from Hong Kong, and Queer.Archive.Work. from Providence, and many more.The exhibition was part of the independent publishers and art book salon SPRINT21 at Spazio Maiocchi and ran from November 26-28, 2021.
Futuress was born from a desire to think and practice design “otherwise.” Our first workshop, the L.i.P. Collective, was the fuse that sparked our model of mixing collective learning and publishing, which premiered with our colorful zine Feminist Findings. In 2020, the L.i.P. collective stories have not only made their way to our website, but went far beyond, thanks to our growing, globally dispersed community. We are thrilled to announce that Feminist Findings has just been translated to Korean, and now exists as a striking Hangul publication! Behind this amazing feat is a large team led by the brilliant In-An Shin of the Feminist Designer Social Club. 페미니스트 파인딩스 was on display from November 16 to December 23 2021 at Platform P in Seoul, where you could not only read our stories, but also browse through a collection of original periodicals researched by the L.i.P., including Chrysalis, Courage, Sinister Wisdom, and more!
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As a queer intersectional feminist platform, Futuress strives to be a home for the people, histories, and perspectives that have been—and still often remain—underrepresented, oppressed, and ignored.
depatriarchise design and Futuress have been steady collaborators for a long time. Even before the Diversity Issues text and the Coding Resistance Fellowship, our two platforms have been supporting each other in being the killjoys of design. After many long coffees, emergency venting calls, and books gifted and exchanged, it became clear that we share the same goal, which is—to echo the words of adrienne maree brown: “shaping the future we long for and have not yet experienced.” Knowing that feminist work is first and foremost a collective endeavor, we decided to permanently join forces to connect and amplify intersecting communities. So… drumroll, please! As of October 2021, Futuress is now run by the non-profit association depatriarchise design, based in Basel, Switzerland. Maya Ober and Nina Paim share the role of co-directors, a decision meant to institute dialogue, difference, and care into the daily practice of steering the Futuress ship.
Futuress was invited to speak at the 2021 Weltformat Graphic Design Festival in Luzern! Under the panel theme “The Power of Identity,” Futuress, alongside Clara Balaguer and Charlotte Rhode, gave insights into how the private, the personal, and the professional intertwine in their practice. We were excited to open up the stage for personal experiences from the community, emphasizing the power of sharing space: Mujgan Abdulzade and Mio Kojima represented the community in presence, giving insight into how Futuress transformed research into an activist practice and created space for sharing vulnerabilities. Sherine Salla, Heba Daghistani and Noemi Parisi took part in the form of video contributions, talking about embracing subjectivity, falling in love with design again, and finding a community to change the canon together. The presentation can be rewatched on our Instagram.
In an age of climate catastrophe and social reckoning, dreams and imagination are more important than ever. This is what inspired Dreams of Contra-Colonial Futures: a Futuress-curated symposium within the 2021 AIGA Conference. Moderated by Nina Paim and Cherry-Ann Davis, the program brought together four members of the Futuress community who connected through our past fellowship Against the Grain, a space to critically reflect on the designed past and the pastness of design. Lauren Williams spoke about making room for abolition and imagining a world without police and prisons. Javier Syquia questioned the term “Vernacular Design” in relation to designs from post-colonial, non-Euro American contexts. Zainab Marvi explored the concept of the feminist city by investigating women’s use of public transport in Karachi, Pakistan. Finally, Naïma Ben Ayed imagined alternatives for multi-script type design education in the North African context.
Futuress was part of the “Here We Are!” exhibition, which celebrated women designers from the past 120 years. The show at the Vitra Design Museum was curated by Viviane Stappmanns, Nina Steinmüller, and Susane Graner, and it told “a many-voiced story of design against the background of the struggle for equal rights and recognition.” Around 80 women in design are showcased in the exhibition, including protagonists of modernism like Eileen Gray, Charlotte Perriand, Clara Porset, and Jeanne Toussaint; business leaders like Florence Knoll and Armi Ratia; and also lesser-known figures like the social reformer Jane Addams. Futuress is featured in the last, future-oriented section of the exhibition, titled “Change The System,” next to contemporary positions such as Matri-Archi(tecture). The exhibition was on display at the Vitra Design Museum from September 23 until March 6, 2022.
Futuress was nominated for this year’s Swiss Design Awards, and invited to present our work in the form of an exhibition. But how can we present the intangible work of a transnational feminist platform for design politics? And how to do it specifically in the context of a design prize that has historically foregrounded abstract and problematic notions such as “merit,” “quality,” and “good design”? Our solution: we used the chance to come together as a community and claim space, being the killjoys of design that we are. Together, we tagged, graffitied, and drew—while dancing and laughing a lot. Our wall was messy, imperfect, and rebellious—just like us! But it was also beautiful, full of joy and a lust for life. In the end, we didn’t win the prize, but we won the hearts of many who stopped by! On the last Friday of the exhibition, we were joined by Naomi Samake and Ana Santos from the Racial Justice Student Collective for an open discussion on anti-hegemonic networks, moderated by our friend Jonas Berthod.
Futuress had the pleasure to re-publish some of the text from the past issue of A Line Which Forms a Volume! The publication is a critical reader and symposium of graphic design-led research that is edited, written, designed, and published by participants of the MA Graphic Media Design course at London College of Communication, U.K. Issue #4 approaches the topic of decoloniality and the constructed borders of the design canon. It asks: “What are the boundaries that graphic design exists within?” Dive into the conversation with Clara Balaguer, and learn why using open-source programs entails a privilege in Learning from the Vernacular by Rhys Atkinson. Explore how Lucas LaRochelle queers artificial intelligence in Queer Dreams of an A.I. by Riccardo Righi, and follow Yu Jiwon as she talks about the representation of Asian Design in the West in The Interlocality of Typography by Rachel So Dam Jung!
Could design be reimagined as a care practice? This question lies at the core of Alter-Care, a journal edited by Cherry-Ann Davis and Nina Paim, on behalf of Futuress for the 2021 Porto Design Biennial. Acknowledging the violent colonial entanglements of Portugal, the duo populated the issue with the ideas of Brazilian designers, artists, curators, and thinkers who are deeply committed to inclusivity, participation, and collaboration: Zoy Anastassakis and Marcos Martins wrote about their experience of co-directing ESDI, the Industrial Design University in Rio de Janeiro; in a long-form interview, curator Keyna Eleison discusses the violence embedded in Eurocentric notions of care; Indigenous artist and designer Denilson Baniwa imagined how Rio would look through forest regeneration—interweaving existing infrastructure and Indigenous knowledge—and finally, the editors Cherry-Ann and Nina co-wrote Does Design Care? problematizing design’s recent interest in care!
Collectively addressing contemporary social issues: Troublemakers Class of 2020 in GRAPHIC Magazine #47!
Issue #47 of the South Korean magazine GRAPHIC brings together several projects by designers, design researchers, and artists concerned with contemporary social issues around social, spatial, and climate justice. They invited 10 teams to convey their research from different angles and areas, including MMS, Klasse Klima, and Futuress, among others. Each was given 16 pages to present their work. Some contributed a report, a chronology, or diary; others showcased transcripted talks, interviews, and even coloring books. Futuress contributed a preview of the Troublemakers Class of 2020 in the form of an extended content page. The contributions and essays by the various teams are not bound together. Instead, they were collected separately as brochures and flyers inside a box—a gesture that reflects the sharp rise in the use of postal services due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Pandemics do not materialize in isolation,” Edna Bonhomme, a historian of science, has rightly pointed out. “They are part and parcel of capitalism and colonization.” A crisis brings to light the hidden cracks in a system, something particularly true for the cultural sector, which has been highly affected by COVID-19. Organized by Futuress and the Centre culturel suisse Paris, the lecture series “Making and Unmaking Exhibitions” aims to critically address the impact of the climate crisis within the museums, galleries and other exhibition contexts. Understanding that sustainability means the concerted effort towards climate, spacial, and social justice, we’ve invited practitioners from different cultural backgrounds to share their varied perspectives. This includes Dhaka Art Summit curator Diana Campbell Betancourt, MAM-Rio artistic co-director Keyna Eleison, Bangladeshi architect Inteza Shariar, Swiss artist Ramaya Tegegne, and Australian museum scholar Fiona Cameron, amongst others. The full program can be watched online, and will later appear as texts on Futuress.
Feminism. Design. Politics. Where these three intersect, you will find Futuress.
At the beginning of 2021, our co-founding editors Eliot Gisel and Madeleine Morley left Futuress to work on new initiatives—we thank them for their contributions, and wish them all the best in their future endeavors! In the meantime, Futuress has sprouted a new team: Maya Ober, activist, educator, designer, researcher, founder of depatriarchise design, and long-standing ally is our new associate editor; Mio Kojima, German-Japanese designer and researcher joins us as our new editorial assistant; Cherry-Ann Davis, designer, writer, and marketing strategist from the twin island of Trinidad and Tobago is our new workshop co-facilitator; and Sacha Fortuné, the fabulous Trinidadian writer with a background in International Journalism and Media & Cultural Studies is our new copyeditor. Welcome, everyone!
In a public lecture at the Design Academy Eindhoven, Maya Ober and Anja Neidhardt from depatriarchise design, together with Madeleine Morley and Nina Paim from Futuress, shared a few insights from their recent joint article Diversity Issues. The text, published Dec 4, 2020, details experiences of abuse and discrimination within Swiss art and design education including instances of racism, sexism, ableism, and more. The lecture revealed the research methodology behind the article, contextualized the issue historically, and presented several initiatives that have been striving to bring these issues to a wider public and spark a transformation of art and design education. If you missed it, don’t worry: the lecture recording can be watched on the Design Academy Eindhoven’s Youtube channel.
Feminist Findings by the Liberation in Print Collective is a zine filled with stories on the labor, loves, networks, hierarchies, friendships, fallouts, struggles, victories, economics, designs, and daily lives of womxn in the past. It works out what it might mean to organize a feminist praxis. Especially from the late 1960s onwards, publishing became a crucial means for womxn to build community and inspire social change. Feminist Findings chronicles these means and methods, seeking to garner what we can learn today from the movements that came before us. All stories result from a workshop initiated by le Signe, the National Center for Graphics in Chaumont, France in response to the COVID-19 pandemic—the very first Futuress fellowship. With libraries and universities shut, the L.i.P. Collective sought to resurface the unknown histories embedded in these online archives, and make them known to a wider readership. Read all the texts on our website!
Feminist Findings showcases the joint research of the L.i.P. Collective—the very first Futuress fellowship, which ran from April–June 2020. Spread over four continents and many time zones, 23 women and non-binary people connected through the beams of their computer screens to dig through digital archives, searching for the missing histories of feminist journals, magazines, zines, newspapers, and newsletters. A wunderkammer brimming with photographs, artefacts, logos, magazines, quotes, excerpts, resources, pages, footnotes, and digressions, Feminist Findings is a messy, knotted web manifesting its own collective research process. Visitors can discover the struggles and victories of a 1980s San Francisco newsletter for Asian/Pacific lesbians, solve the mystery of an underground tea-room in Paris, hear from the co-founder of India’s first feminist press, and learn how writing a feminist history of Swiss graphic design might start by calling up a neighbor, and much more. The show is curated by Eliot Gisel, Madeleine Morley, and Nina Paim for Futuress, and runs from July 30 to September 24, 2020 at A—Z Berlin.
Eliot Gisel is a Swiss journalist, editor, and researcher exploring topics such as design education, dress culture, city politics, visual rhetorics of resistance, LGBTQIA+ activism, culture, and the politics of language. Madeleine Morley is a Berlin-based British writer and editor who combines the tools of journalism and archival research as she delves into histories of design, media, and feminism. Nina Paim is a Brazilian designer, researcher, curator, educator, and activist, whose work revolves around notions of directing, supporting, and collaborating. During the uncertain and unstable times of the first COVID-19 lockdown in Europe, these three came together to envision Futuress as a space for togetherness, generosity, resistance, growth, and social purpose. They jointly applied and received a Pro-Helvetia Grant, which allowed for the evolution of Futuress into a hybrid publishing and learning platform!