The Lab for Network Communities is an experimental program developed and curated by The Global School at the School of Art & Design – BIFT (Beijing Institute for Fashion Technology) during the 2018/2019 academic year.

The lab is a piloting effort for the establishment of a long-term research entity and frameworks of cooperation based on interdisciplinary, practice-lead forms of learning that interact with the existing system of departmental knowledge present at BIFT. The lab aims to encourage the edification of new knowledge-making mechanisms and knowledge-sharing dynamics engaging students, faculty and professionals from a variety of fields ranging from independent design circles to the academic arena and innovation outlets found in private and public sectors.

For this first year the lab operates under an explorative environment that informs the 2019 graduate show under the theme Significant Others, Incomplete by Design.

Between October 2018 and June 2019 an integrated program of focused workshops, in-studio lectures and a series of public events are developed to both accompany students’ research agendas as well as expand the conversation with practitioners from relevant areas of study that both challenge and reroute critical discourse in and out the specificity of given goals.

The program includes a bilingual online platform intended as a tool for research and dialogue with relevance to the yearly theme, and curatorial/editorial/design planning for the final graduation show and catalogue.

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This project tests new methodologies across the innovation-education interface that sit on the fringe of both systems as connective procedures rather than objectifiable models. In so doing it behaves in a shape-shifting fashion as a form of bottom-up, tentacular agency that productively intrudes the disciplinary hierarchies customarily imposed by traditional educational institutions, so to unearth and explore new creative alliances that can constantly reconfigure around ecologies of empathy and proximity in thought and practice.

OFFICIAL PROGRAM WEBSITE : http://creativelab.bift.edu.cn/

ABOUT BIFT here

ABOUT THE PUBLIC PROGRAM | browse the news section!

LAB FOR NETWORK COMMUNITIES 互联共同体实验室

 

ABOUT | LAB FOR NETWORK COMMUNITIES 互联共同体实验室

From the educational field to corporate ranks of operation, notions of ‘design thinking’, ‘user-centred design’, ‘social design’ are used to tackle the urgency and need for creative thinking to build responsive, user-specific tooling with the capacity to preserve balance amidst the increasingly fragmented and uneven forces that inhabit everyday life – design is ever more asked to perform as a connective agent among different forms of knowledge, demographic groups, physical and digital realms of experience.

Connectivity nowadays is no longer the single purview of high-tech companies eager to capitalize on the social desire to ‘be there, be present’, but a condition of existence – connectedness is predicated on the imperative of the network - ‘be linked, or never be whole’.

The implications of this condition are complex and multifarious – to be sure they are so in relation to whom and how detains control over the very means and outcomes of its social production. While networked technologies have produced uplifting impacts over the course of the past 20 years and the coming of age of the ‘sharing economy’, they also present urgent challenges for our subjective understanding and articulation of what it means to ‘belong’ to this new and future ‘whole’ beyond partaking to communities of interest, nuclear preservation and ‘self’-centred economies of consumption.

 

Can we alter, redirect or redraw systemic dependences of social, economic and cultural nature into new configurations that can truly restore a sense of ‘reciprocity’ and ‘mutuality’ into the contemporary condition of ‘’connectedness’’? That is to empower or re-enable the making of communities around empathetic networks of value, proximity and care?

For designers this means to think through and ‘build’ actionable blueprints of change across both real and speculative scenarios: mediating between the fast-paced simulations of technological augmentation and the real-world resilience of human predicaments, that is the habitudinal systems of co-dependence and trust that historically have sustained offline social networks. 

This research environment aims at exploring the contemporary condition of NETWORK COMMUNITIES by devising practical and speculative scenarios implicating ACCESSIBILITY, IMPACT and COLLABORATION in a radically interdisciplinary context spanning the social sciences, technological research, spatial, visual and material studies, entrepreneurship and economics.

The program aims at building long-term perspectives for the establishment of a permanent research entity within The School of Arts & Design at BIFT dedicated to design research and development concerned with the positive edification of systems of extreme proximities among today’s network communities.

从教育领域到企业运营层,“设计思维”、“以用户为中心的设计”、“社会设计”的概念被用来处理创意思维的紧急需求并建立具有在日益破碎的情况下保持平衡能力的,具有响应性的、用户特定的工具。分裂与不平衡导致在日常生活中,设计越来越被要求作为不同形式的知识、人口群体、物理和数字体验领域之间的连接媒介。

如今,连接性已不再是高科技公司渴望利用“be there, be present”的社会愿望的单一权限,而是一种存在条件——连接性基于网络——“被连接,或永远不连接”。

这种状况意味着未来的复杂性和多样性,可以确定的是这与谁以及如何控制社会生产的手段和结果有关。虽然网络技术在过去20年以及“共享经济”时代中造成了令人振奋的影响,同时,也给我们理解和阐明“属于”这个新的和未来的“整体”意味着什么提出了挑战,而不仅仅是让人们停留在参与利益共同体、核保护以及“以自我为中心”的消费经济中。

我们是否能够改变、重定向或重塑社会、经济和文化的系统依赖性,使之成为新的形态,从而真正将 reciprocity and mutuality的感觉恢复到“联系”的状态?

对于设计者来说,这意味着要仔细思考并“建立”跨越真实和猜测场景的可操作的变化蓝图:在技术增强的快速模拟和人类困境的真实世界之间进行调解。在依赖和信任的基础上,过去人们一直保持离线社交网络。

这个研究环境旨在探索网络社区的条件,通过设计一个跨社会科学、技术研究、空间和虚拟空间的跨学科的、包含可访问性、影响力和协作性的实际和思辨的场景。

这里提出的三位一体计划旨在为北京服装学院艺术与设计学院建立永久性教育计划,并建立长期远景,该教育计划致力于设计研究与开发,关注当今网络社区之间极端接近系统和其积极启迪。

 

2019 | SIGNIFICANT OTHERS, INCOMPLETE BY DESIGN 另一半,不完整为设计

The theme for the 2019 Graduation Show poses a quest to students to explore their life environment, their personal, familial and social contexts with the aim to find an inspirational cause to explore and empower.

Significant Others is a project challenge that unknowledges the shapeshifting nature of design both as process and product, and the productive vulnerability that is inscribed in the intrinsically plural and thus dispositional character of the creative enterprise, crafted at the intersection of multiple needs, interests and desires. Incompleteness is therefore intended as a formula of open-endedness, where the positive, active contribution of others is necessary for the project to complete its function, to make it ‘whole’.

Students are prompted to delve into their own reality, the city, the universe that surrounds them and devise a project that brings positive impact to a community of their choice by suppling a function, service, activity of any nature be it based on an economic transaction, a volunteering job, an educational/commercial/academic/cultural offering provided it clearly targets an unattended common need, whose extent can vary from a small group of people to a neighbourhood or an entire city district. With a targeted ‘user’ in mind the project must reflect on this hypothetical perpetrator as a social partner, a significant other complement.  

The goal of the project is that of re-establishing a meaningful connection among people and groups, a simple premise that wishes to probe extant connections and systemic dependencies and reconfigure them into new value creation.

 

2019 | SIGNIFICANT OTHERS | PUBLIC PROGRAM 公共项目系列

The program includes a series of workshops, in-studio lectures and an ongoing series of public talks open to the entire school. Such program is organized in IRREGULAR LECTURES and a SALON series, articulated around 6 key thematic strands that refer to contradictory stances embedded in the practice of design - unexpected encounters, conceptual dissonances and productive challenges that come involved in the process of developing one’s critical standpoint and approach to it. They are:

 

# BEAUTIFUL FAILURES 美丽的失败 

on mishaps, mistakes, leftovers and failed experiments and how they can become productive conditions of creation

 

# UGLY FEELINGS 丑恶感情 

on the empathetic dimension of design and how both positive and negative emotions play a part in the design work

 

# FLEXIBLE PRINCIPLES 灵活原则 

on adaptability and fluidity, how unexpected factors and misunderstanding influence and eventually change our relation to objects, spaces and situations

 

# SELFISH ENGAGEMENT 自私从事 

idealism and design, in theory and practice

 

# LONELY COMMUNITY 孤独社群 

around place-making and community building – the joy and discontents of participatory and relational design

 

# THE DISLOCATED MEDIATOR 位错的调解员 

the shape-shifting role of the designer, between facts and fiction

 

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