Within the framework of Cantiere per pratiche non-affermative
Designers’ Inquiry is an investigation into the social and economic profile of who today defines him or herself as “designer”, including in this definition a broad range of overlapping disciplines (graphic, web and product design, animation, fashion, illustration, architecture, design research, etc.). The project was launched in April 2012 through an anonymous online questionnaire, which in two months collected the responses of 767* designers working and living in Italy. The report Designers’ Inquiry (published in Italian and English) is the account of the data and the testimonies collected.
As designers, how do we relate to the structural precariousness of everyday life, to the cuts to culture and welfare, to the lack of social protection and support as workers? How are we reacting to an educational system that forms “industry-ready” creative subjects? How aware are we, as producers of knowledge and languages, of being a fundamental component of the current economic system?
The investigation Designers’ Inquiry takes as a starting point both questions like these and a series of difficulties in contemporary society that brought us to desire a radical change for our lives. The inquiry can thus be seen as an attempt to address these questions and desires: on the one hand, by capturing the conditions of life and work of designers in Italy, and, on the other hand, by initiating a dialogue as well as a critical reflection on the profession itself.
Influenced by the model of co-research, the 78 questions elaborated in Designers’ Inquiry tried to involve the participants in a reflection on their own condition, thereby opening the path for possible co-operations and common struggles. A first “collective step” had already been taken in the stages following the collection of the responses: the evaluation of the data and their conceptual, visual and verbal elaboration have been developed publicly through workshops at which a diversity of designers interested in the project participated. The long-term objective of Designers’ Inquiry is to continue to produce tools of analysis, but above all tools for shared actions that aim at intervening in the present state of reality.
The launch of the project at the 2012 Milan Furniture Fair
Data elaboration workshop at FDV Residency at the Fabbrica del Vapore, Milan, July 2012
Data visualisation workshop with Gianluca Seta at FDV Residency, January 2013
The launch of the published report at the 2013 Milan Furniture Fair
* For now, we decided to focus our attention on the elaboration and the publication of the data collected from designers who are operating in Italy. The 303 responses collected from designers operating in other parts of the world originated from a variety of socio-economic contexts that are very different from each other. This makes these data rather irrelevant because they are very fragmented.