Call for Conference DHS 2019: The Cost of Design

Design History Society Conference 2019
The Cost of Design

‘The Cost of Design’ explores the complexities of the historic and contemporary relationship between design and economy. Design is both influenced by, and can shape, economic systems. Both ‘cost’ and ‘economy’ are to be understood beyond their financial implications. ‘Cost’ is envisaged as the exchange of resources, meaning or value. The conference looks at how design sustains, accelerates or challenges dominant systems, and examines the resulting social, cultural, economic or environmental consequences that arise. It examines the roles of design in rapidly changing economies, examining the relationship between technological advances and the economy. ‘The Cost of Design’ also looks at design’s relationship to the political economy and the global/regional/local exchanges occurring within. Design practices can react to, resist, challenge or seek to influence economies that are viewed to negatively impact in some way. The ways in which design has been used to affect positive change within economic systems will also be examined.

The conference welcomes historic, contemporary and interdisciplinary approaches to the topic, and invites contributions from design historians, scholars, and academics in related fields, as well as design practitioners and educators, museum professionals and students. Topics might include:

Technological and changing economies

  • Impact of automation
  • Digitisation of design culture
  • Hybridisation of physical and virtual spaces

Political economies and global/local exchange

  • Supply chains, manufacture and relocation vis-à-vis geopolitical and cultural borders
  • Challenges to/persistence of dichotomies of North/South; East/West; Centre/Periphery
  • Dynamics of transcultural (intra- or extra regional) design
  • The relationship between design and soft power
  • Appropriation and copyright

Resistance, sharing economies and design

  • Design for “post-growth” economies
  • Political design in a national/regional/local context
  • Artisanal/craft solutions
  • Indigenous autonomy
  • Designing for wellbeing, happiness and social values

Individual papers of 20 minutes or proposals for full panels of three papers related to the topics listed above or theme of ‘The Cost of Design’ will be considered. Panel proposals must include abstracts for all three papers, in addition to a short description of the panel theme.

All proposals will be double-blind reviewed and selected by the conference committee. Submissions are due Monday 25 February 2019 and should:

  1. Be sent in the form of a Microsoft Word document (.doc, .docx)
  2. Not exceed 300 words
  3. Include the title of the paper
  4. Include the author’s full name, title, position and institution
  5. Include a brief professional biography (not exceeding 50 words)

Submissions should be sent to to the attention of the Academic Convener.

The Design History Society offers bursaries for student speakers whose abstracts have been accepted and who are members of the Design History Society.

Elizabeth Kramer, Academic Convener
School of Art, Design and Social Sciences Northumbria University Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK


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Chiara Lecce

Chiara Lecce received her MA in Interior Design (2008) and her PhD in Interior Architecture & Exhibition Design (2013; with the thesis: “Living Interiors in the Digital Age: the Smart Home”) from the Politecnico di Milano. Since 2008 she has been engaged in teaching activities, in History of Design classes and Interior Design studio, at the Design School of the Politecnico di Milano, collaborating with professors Giampiero Bosoni and Ico Migliore. Since 2013 she has been managing editor of the scientific journal PAD (Pages on Arts and Design) and member of AIS/Design (Italian Association of Design Historians). She is the author of several articles featured in various design journals. She is currently research fellow and lecturer at the Design Department of the Politecnico di Milano, with a focus on exhibition design history and methodologies. In 2016 she was a tutor within the H2020 European project “Design for Enterprises”. Since 2009 she has been collaborating with the Franco Albini Foundation and with other Italian design archives, while continuing to work as a freelance interior designer.

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