Designing With(in) the Mess Past Event
How can we create a more inclusive landscape for graphic design and architectural practice? Introduced by Dr Neal Haslem and moderated by Dr Fayen d’Evie, this panel discussion explores the research and practices of four different designers (Nina Gibbes, Dennis Grauel, Dr Jane Connory and Issa el Assaad) who make space for this important shift towards a design world that is pluralistic, inclusive and diverse. This panel discussion is the inaugural 2021 event of the RMIT WoD series in connection with the #worldwewant initiative. #Worldwewant was launched in 2020 to advance a radical critique to the inequities, lack of representation and established power paradigms both within and caused through design practice, and to support initiatives that aspire to the ‘worldwewant’ through design practice.
Nina Gibbes is a graphic designer and current student in the Master’s of Communication Design degree at RMIT University. Her 2020 professional research project titled Sitting With the Mess, investigates how designers are making space to address the inherent gender and cultural biases present in the canon of graphic design and in the wider industry. In Semester 1 2021, using her research project as a starting point, Nina collaborated with Dr Fayen d’Evie on developing a project for RMIT Experimental Typography students to design typographic Risograph posters in response to design practices that have been under-acknowledged. The posters created by the students will be on display at this event.
How might we radically reframe the practice of making, maintaining and distributing typefaces? This talk explores the paradigm of maintenance as opposed to production, and how the library can offer an alternative toolkit and lexicon: the designer as custodian; the typeface as a site for communal dialogue. Anti-capitalist strategies, experimental pricing models, the withholding of labour, and the sharing of resources are all pondered. How might the type library be rooted in care?
Dr Jane Connory
How diverse is the Australian graphic design industry? How visible are women in it? There is now data available to show that platforms which give designers a profile are often unfairly biased against women. Be it awards or the way history is written, women are too often excluded. However, with women being the majority of graduates from visual communication degrees it is educators who can have a big influence on changing this. Resources are available to ensure women, indigenous Australians, those who are differently abled and part of the LGBTQIA+ community can all be seen and heard. This visibility is important to the self-efficacy of design students and to the ongoing innovation of the industry they are moving into.
Issa el Assaad
Issa el Assaad is a graduate of architecture and multi-disciplinary artist. Born as a Palestinian refugee in the United Arab Emirates, he is now based in Melbourne Australia. With a particular focus on decolonial spatial practices, Issa has written extensively on empowering women through architectural design, specifically in Ein el Hilweh Refugee Camp. Using methodologies of anti-colonial and decolonial design he explores the expected norms and behaviours in cities to interrogate how a shared social production of space can empower communities through social, political and environmental disaster. Informed by personal experience but driven by global urgency, Issa seeks to challenge the broad historical, cultural and political structures that underpin dominant societal frameworks to find a common path towards community care and repatriation.