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Matter as a Subject of Design

Design traditionally serves as a framework to understand material surroundings through the contours of things — or clearly defined objects. Its focus frequently lies within the study of material properties and in the realm of material innovation. But the current state of affairs and escalating environmental crisis calls for different approaches that allow to step back and sideways, and rethink the existing relationship between human and matter. By stressing the difference between matter and material, the conversations invite designers, artists, scholars, scientists, lawyers and other stakeholders to imagine more ethical forms of co-habitation between humans and matter, beyond the premise of novelty and constant economic growth. 

Material Agencies 

The series draws on the exhibition and research project Lithium, the curriculum of Neuhaus, the temporary interdisciplinary academy for more-than-human knowledge that took place at Het Nieuwe Instituut between May—September 2019, and the learning line Meeting Matter. The project also builds upon the long-term research by Het Nieuwe Instituut on the economic, social and cultural implications of materials, such as Wood and Glass. Other related projects include On the Most Powerful Catalyst by research fellow Füsun Türetken; Ore Streams presented by Studio Formafantasma; Mineral, Immutable: To Design a Document by research fellow Christopher Lee.