Symposium: Dreams of Contra-Colonial Futures
Thursday, September 23, 2021
12:00 PM - 3:30 PM (EDT)

In an age of climate catastrophe and social reckoning, dreams and imagination are more important than ever. This symposia brings together four members of the Futuress community who connected through Against the Grain, our most recent fellowship held between April–August 2021. From various corners of the vast planet, we met virtually to critically reflect on the designed past and the pastness of design. Together we imagined hybrid, generative, abolitionist futures while reflecting on current design realities and situatedness. With: Cherry-Ann Davis, Javier Syquia, Lauren Williams, Naïma Ben Ayed, Nina Paim, and Zainab Marvi.

Making Room for Abolition
Lauren Williams
What if we could imagine and experience a world without police and prisons? Not just think, talk, or write about it, but truly see, feel, hold, and sit in it? Making Room for Abolition reflects on an installation of a living room that evokes critical conversations around what stands between us and abolition. Situated in a domestic space, the installation draws attention to our home’s quotidien contents and soundscapes, acknowledging how our living spaces and belongings reflect the world outside, especially in a city in a nation so deeply shaped by over-policing and carceral politics as Detroit, Michigan, US. In this presentation, participants will learn about design’s complicity in constructing and maintaining the carceral state, design’s capacity to posit questions about what it takes to move toward abolition, and the process and negotiations undertaken to manifest this work.

A Rejection of the Term ‘Vernacular'
Javier Syquia
In this presentation, Javier questions the use of the term “Vernacular Design,” especially when it references designs exhibited in post/colonial, non-Euroamerican, contexts. Through the study of the term’s etymology, its subliminal meanings, his own personal relationship with the term and how it relates to his practice, Javier argues that Graphic Design in Post/Colonial Nations is Graphic Design, not “Vernacular Design.” “Vernacular” is a colonizing term, coined for the sake of Othering design languages that dare to challenge the Euroamerican Design Canon.

Identifying feminist practices and modes of resistance in Karachi, Pakistan
Zainab Marvi
By exploring the concept of a feminist city and feminist right to the city, I probe how women navigate the city differently through the use of public transport in Karachi, Pakistan. My research maps their commuting patterns and behaviours with the intention of uncovering the unspoken communal practices, the common threads and the anomalies that reveal how pockets of feminist cities are enacted in the here and now. To broaden our understanding of gendered commuting, I question the standard ways of communication and navigation design in urban spaces. How can perception of design be shifted away from planning & solutionism towards maintenance and care? Are design interventions even needed where people seem content living with contradictions? Lastly, what is the fine line between romanticising the struggles and nurturing the acts of everyday resistance of women and the marginalised?

Imagining Alternatives for Multi Script Type Design Education
Naïma Ben Ayed
Multi script type design education is located in Europe; far from multi script contexts and realities. Looking at multi script typefaces publication, we observe that the offer is considerably expanding from Latin as more and more foundries expand their script coverage. If multi script type design opportunities and processes occur in the West and from the Latin script, should they be the dominant narratives? Drawing from her article for Futuress, Naïma will discuss the status quo of multi script type design education and practice and possible paths to challenge it: Using design processes to create alternative narratives; recentering education in relevant contexts, connecting with culture and experience; moving beyond print History to look for and create alternative archives of letters

This session will be recorded and available exclusively to attendees post-event.