The International Research Network on Design (and) Activism was founded in 2017 by Tom Bieling (Berlin University of the Arts) & Andréa Poshar (Politecnico di Milano), at the Design Research Lab // Berlin University of the Arts. The main goal of the network is to encourage a continuous debate, investigation & publication of research related to design and its role within social//activist movements. We are interested in the most diverse assortment of projects and research developed within the interconnection of design, technology, art, politics, and related topics. We welcome any kind of collaboration from designers, researchers, activists and academics that seek to engage within all areas proposed. We also intend to propose a wide range of activities within our partners and Universities. Our conferences, lectures, courses, publications and workshops may be found in the „Activities“ section. Feel free to join us and get in touch!

Members of the International Research Network on Design (and) Activism are soon to be portrayed here. If you are interested to join, feel free to get in touch with one of the initiators…


Prof. Dr. Tom Bieling (dipl. des.), is a professor of Designtheory & research, and vice dean at HfG Offenbach University of Art and Design, teaches design research and -theory at Zentrum für Designforschung (HAW Hamburg University of Applied Sciences) and Designwissenschaft at HAWK Hildesheim. Previously Senior Researcher at Berlin University of the Arts (Design Research Lab), Vertr.-Professor at the Centre for Design Research (Hamburg University of Applied Sciences), and research fellow at the Vilém Flusser Archive. Visiting Professor at the German University in Cairo (Faculty of Applied Sciences & Art), Visiting Professor at Trento University, Design Theory at BIU, Design History / Design Theory at GIU AS, and Designtheory / Transformation Design at NDU – New Design University St. Pölten. Numerous guest lectures and workshops at international universities (e.g. Mumbai, São Paulo, Basel, Milan, Portland, Spokane, Edinburgh, Brussels, Nottingham, Tallinn, Budapest, Eindhoven, Rotterdam). He is co-editor of the BIRD series at Birkhäuser as part of the Board of International Research in Design, co-editor of the book series Design Meanings (Mimesis), and Chief Editor of DESIGNABILITIES – Design Research Journal for social, cultural and political Discourse, Transformation & Activism. Founder of the Institute for Applied Fantasies. Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Institut Mensch, Ethik und Wissenschaft. Co-Founder of the “Social Design Network” and of the German Initiative “Design promoviert. Exhibitions in New York, London, Berlin, Vienna, Manchester, Sheffield, Milano, Munich, Dresden, St. Etienne, Karlsruhe, Eindhoven and Cologne. Recent books: “Design (&) Activism” (Mimesis), “Gender (&) Design” (Mimesis) and “Inklusion als Entwurf” (Birkhäuser: Basel) published in 2019. www.tombieling.com

Andréa Poshar, born in Brazil and currently based in Italy, has a M.Sc. in Media Culture – PPGC/UFPB, and a B.A. in Social Communication and Advertising, both earned in Brazil. Currently, Poshar is a Ph.D. Candidate at the School of Design of Politecnico di Milano. She is a member of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research and Analysis of the Media (CARISM), University Paris 2, Pantheon-Assas, Sorbonne Universities, and a member of the Design Research Journal DESIGNABILITIES, coordinated by Tom Bieling. She also collaborates with the Research Lab on Typography and Graphic Language, Design Program at Senac University, SP, Brazil. Poshar has more than 10 years of experience at various communication enterprises. She has worked and presented in numerous international conferences.

Simona Venditti holds a Ph.D. in Design from Politecnico di Milano (2017). She has a background in Communication Design and is currently working with Imagis LAB, a research group of the Design Department of Politecnico di Milano focused on audiovisual storytelling, digital media and game design. She was a guest Ph.D. student at RUC – Roskilde University at the Department of Communication and the Arts. Her research interests deal with digital fiction, narrativity, social media, and digital strategies of engagement. She presented her research in numerous international conferences.

Thomas Markussen is associate professor of social design at the University of Southern Denmark. In his work, Markussen focuses on how design can be used as a political and critical aesthetic practice, notably in the fields of social design, design activism and design fiction.

Alastair Fuad-Luke is a design facilitator, educator, writer and activist. His books include Agents of Alternatives (co-edited), Design Activism and The Eco-Design Handbook. He is a Full Professor of Design Research at the Faculty of Design and Art, at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy. Previously he was Professor at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Aalto University, Finland. His present design research interests include agri-culture (What Could A Farm Be? and muu-baa.org), alternative economies and new concepts of local production.

Ann Thorpe is Deputy Director of the Transport Institute at University College London (UCL). She was previously with UCL’s Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy and UCL’s Bartlett School of Architecture. She is the author of Architecture & Design versus Consumerism (Routledge 2012) and The Designers Atlas of Sustainability (Island Press, 2007).

Cathy Gale (MA: RCA) is a Senior Lecturer and Course Director of MA Communication Design: Graphic Design at Kingston School of Art London. She teaches across design theory and practice from a critical position to challenge the status quo and invoke change. She was awarded a Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (UK) for her radical design pedagogic research projects, the Alternative Art School and Disco Dissent.

Maziar Rezai is a Design-Activist, Design Researcher and Film Critic. He is a doctoral candidate in Design Studies at the Braunschweig University of Art (HBK) and previously a guest lecturer in Art University of Tehran in Iran. He works as Art Director and design counselor and has led several consulting projects. “Design and Democracy: New Critical Perspectives” (Birkhäuser: Basel) (co-edited with Michael Erlhoff), will be his next publication in 2020.

Dr Sharon Prendeville is a researcher, educator and activist working at Loughborough University in London, where she is the Principal Investigator on an AHRC-funded grant (almost £250,000) that investigates ‘the politics of design framing practices’. Her research focuses in particular on the role of design in grassroots and social movements in sustainability. She has previously worked at the Royal College of Art in London and TU Delft, The Netherlands.

Chol William Arem is a Social Activist, Visual Artist and Co-founder of the Youth-led Art Organization DASCO (Design for Art & Social Change Organization), focusing on community empowerment for Social Change, for instance, Visual Communication in the context of Illiteracy. “Together our aim is to reach sectors of underprivileged communities and teach them basics about strategic developmental goals (SDGs) in South Sudan and beyond the borders”.

Dr Clare Cooper (University of Sydney) Dr Clare Cooper is a Lecturer in Design Computing at the University of Sydney, where she teaches visual communication, design futuring, interaction design and electronic arts. Her research and pedagogy is informed by two decades of professional design practice, workshop facilitation, design activism, and improvisation in the sonic and performing arts. Cooper has brought together thousands of people to work together on community initiatives, creative approaches to governance, collaborative composition, speculative design, and critical listening through co-founding the NOW now festival (2001), Splinter Orchestra (Sydney 2000), Splitter Orchester (Berlin 2009), Frontyard Projects (2016), Climate Strike Workshop (2018), Community Environmental Monitoring (2019), and the Design Activism Workshop (2019). Cooper has consulted on government projects, community grants and policy development with local and state governments and NGOs. As a musician, her international performances and compositions have been featured on Australia’s ABC, Germany’s SWR and UK’s BBC and have been published by Mikroton (Russia), Splitrec (Australia), and High Zero (USA). http://cargocollective.com/claremcooper

Denis Weil
(IIT Institute of Design)

Dr Craig Martin (Scottish Graduate School for the Arts & Humanities)