This summer has been hot! And not in a good sense. Europe -and beyond- is literally on fire! With extreme droughts, heatwaves and wildfires raging across the continent, with “no significant rainfall recorded for almost two months across western, central and southern Europe and none forecast in the near future, meteorologists say the drought could become the continent’s worst in more than 500 years.” Reported Jon Henley for The Guardian on August 13, 2022.
If you quickly google the latest headlines on the major news channels, you will note a spotlight on climate emergency now more than ever. “Adapting to climate change is no longer an option. It’s an obligation.” Reported Laura Kyle for the AlJazeera also on August 13, 2022. Each year, the threat of Global Warming is hitting closer to home, wherever you are. Including here, the Saxon Swiss National Park, near the Design Campus in Pillnitz, was on fire for the past weeks – you couldn’t see the threat but smell it. What to do?
One of the major quests behind the School of Utopias, the Design Campus Summer School, is to be a space where creatives gather to rethink these troubled times. This year, the The School of the Untold curated by Formafantasma focused on the many layers of materiality and the histories and complexities behind it. Each of the six-week program explored diverse perspectives on material and immaterial culture, from the origins of artefacts in a museum, to the complete process of extracting resources, such as iron from nature and producing objects out of it, or to creating a water wheel powered printing press. One workshop group even put “fire” within the museum’s premises to remember the archaic and apocalyptic force behind this element. Incredible efforts and outputs created in just a week’s time. These highlighted projects demonstrate not only the ingenuity of the design community gathered here in Pillnitz during the Summer School, but also how design has the potential to help create awareness of current issues, to build new and responsive tools in times of crisis, and to bring hope and optimism to co-create a better future.
The time we spend together at the Design Campus in summer is fun, but also very serious and relevant. We call it School of Utopias not because we want to create a perfect and unreachable dream island. “Utopianism is social dreaming,” as the utopian studies scholar and political scientist Lyman Tower Sargent defined. Amidst all the crisis and disruptions we are seeing in the world, it is up to us as citizens, as designers, as cultural agents, to take matters into our own hands, and act! We are proud to be a space that offers opportunities for deep thinking and radical experimentation. And we are even more proud of the participants from all different countries and projects created here at the Design Campus.
This is the last week of the Summer School Class 2022. To celebrate it, we will have a special closing party this Friday, with our traditional OPEN STUDIO night, where you can see the results of this week’s workshops. And of course, we will celebrate all this hard work and big achievements by finally dancing into the dark!
-- Thomas and Aline
-- Thomas A. Geisler
Design Campus and Kunstgewerbemuseum Director
-- Aline Lara Rezende, Editor and
Design Campus Chief Knowledge and Impact Officer