Image Credit: Maroon World Volume 1, Copyright: Travis Gumbs, 2016. Cropped.

Project Leaders: Lynhan Balatbat-Helbock (S A V V Y Contemporary), Dr Sheena Calvert (VisComm), Elsa Westreicher (SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin)

Number of participants: 10

Duration: 5 days

Deviant Design in a House of Old Fears: Questioning Coloniality in Design Theory and Practice

This workshop is a collaboration between S A V V Y Contemporary: The Laboratory of Form-Ideas (Berlin) and Visual Communication (RCA). Everyone involved will be a contributor, taking first steps in dismantling design theory and practice as we know it: by questioning the colonial condition that has distorted much of its history and digging into the global entanglements that are in fact at its core.

In this workshop, many presents and pasts will meet in order to create a space for epistemological risk-taking that will eventually break open the selective memory and self-centred perspective of the geopolitical West in matters of design history and discourse. Through the participants’ confrontations with an area of research and practice of their choice, we hope to bring together a polymorphous collection of thoughts, objects and doings, that make a first collective step towards shifting the telos of design.

The participants are encouraged to explore manifold forms and disciplines, from the written word to sonic manifestations, ephemeral moments, performative encounters, scents, graphic patterns or whatever seems suitable… Our research and practical enquiries will be brought together continuously and will transform the former empty space of our classroom into a living structure. Towards the end of the workshop, we will decide collectively how this arrangement can be translated into a more durable form and integrated into the RCA’s Study Collection, as well as S A V V Y Contemporary’s Documentation Centre, and made accessible to the public beyond these privileged spaces.


A reading and reference list will be sent out to participants and can be consulted in advance.

Further information about the precise schedule and guest speakers will be sent to the participants.

Day 1: [MON, 30.10.2017]

Introduction round with all participants and introduction of workshop through workshop leaders.

First encounters with questions and materials. Reciprocal discovery. Exchange and discussion. Spatial arrangements.

Lunch break

Breathing space. Individual studies in classroom or elsewhere.
Lectures by guest speakers.

Day 2: [TUE, 31.10.2017]

Field trip. Design Museum.

Discussion of first ideas for individual journeys.

Individual studies.

Day 3: [WED, 01.11.2017]

Individual studies, individual making.

Coming together: Encounters with new “objects” and questions. Where do we go from here? What format/form do we choose for a collective, archivable outcome?

Day 4: [THU, 02.11.2017]

Individual and/or collective making

Day 5: [FRI, 03.11.2017]

Collective Making.


We open the classroom to the outside. And enjoy!