The ABOUT: call, for a new design culture

What has happened to design? This is one of the most frequently asked questions at events, exhibitions, and trade fairs in Milan in recent years. Design culture has been under threat for years now: the overwhelming use of social media as the primary channel for sharing work, coupled with communication aimed solely at self-promotion to increase engagement, likes, and followers, has led to a cultural and critical flattening. As a consequence, many magazines publish projects and feature designers who can secure a “like” – as well as the collaborations some companies choose – leading many designers to focus more on appearance than content (not all, of course, but there has been a noticeable trend towards this approach in recent years). (Cover image, Techno Techne by Carmelo Zocco)

Despite this, fortunately, there are still some studios and designers who propose projects and events for sharing ideas and thoughts. We would like to remind you that design is always the result of a dialogue: there is the designer’s idea, the experience of a technician or artisan, and the willingness of a company to invest in and produce that idea. This is an extreme simplification of a much more complex process.

Without dialogue, there is no project, and Sovrappensiero studio knows this well. The new ABOUT: call launched by Lorenzo De Rosa and Ernesto Iadevaia aims to engage with this historical moment by opening a constructive discussion on the design approach, beyond traditional frameworks and market requirements.

The ABOUT: open call

“Our intent is to engage designers in analysing and challenging the contemporary approach to design, reassessing and reemphasizing the intrinsic cultural value of the creative process. We aim to stimulate critical thinking and encourage open dialogue free from preconceived notions, thus opening new paths of exploration and discovery in the design world” – writes the studio.

By defining a theme, the project invites designers to experiment and propose their point of view through a small prototype. The first open call focused on exploring new ways of using and conceptualizing the box cutter blade to discover innovative, functional and narrative solutions: “Box cutter blades are fundamental tools in the office and craft world, known for their precision, versatility and reliability. Although often associated with simple cuts and everyday tasks, their potential extends far beyond these conventional uses. Each blade, thanks to its edge and ability to handle various materials, represents a blank canvas for innovation.”

The aim of the ABOUT: open calls is to find solutions that redefine the possibilities of the chosen themes – cutter blades in the first instance, and bristles for the second call, which is already online – through specific interpretive keys: new functions, tools, rituals, and narratives. Once the prototype is submitted, Sovrappensiero prints a catalog and organizes an exhibition, always held in different studios and workshops where the submitted projects are presented. This creates a convivial moment with design at the center. The first exhibition was hosted by the Polignum restoration workshop.

ABOUT: is the project we need: an open call where designers are invited to experiment with a theme, free from the commercial and communication dynamics that constrain creativity. It’s a wonderful exercise to finally return to talk about design culture.

As anticipated, you can already find the second edition of the bristle-related open call online. Here, you can find all the necessary information. To see the results of the first ABOUT:, you can view the catalog here, follow the open call’s Instagram page, or visit the Sovrappensiero website!

Ph. courtesy

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