As institutions or individuals, design bodies have been weaponized for war, colonization, racism, sexism, ableism, and other forms of oppression. This talk reports on the Designing for Liberation research program that, since 2010, engages diverse design bodies with the fight against all forms of oppression. This program unleashes designing potentials that have been prevented or denied in specific communities and social groups through participatory design, technology appropriation, self-management, critical pedagogy, theater of the oppressed and, other Marxist-inspired approaches.
First, we must shift our attention from media to mediations,
from interface to interactions (Van Amstel, 2008).
Faber-Ludens Institute for Interaction Design (2007-2014)
shifted the attention from interface to interaction.
Faber-Ludens was part of the Digital Culture movement,
championed by Min. of Culture Gilberto Gil (Van Amstel, 2012)
The Designing for Liberation research program started in
Faber-Ludens around 2010, when we decided to open the
black box of design to the general public.
Faber-Ludens published a manifesto book in 2012 inspired by
Digital Culture, Participatory Design, and Free Software.
We could not do Design Livre with Google apps, so we
developed our own collaborative platform.
Corais Platform, a digital infrastructure for collaborative projects
of any kind, built with free software (2011-actual).
Social movements, indigenous communities, and popular
educators took over Corais, developing more than 700 projects.
Government became interested in Corais and we were invited to
design a social participation app (Van Amstel & Gonzatto, 2016).
My students reimagined Roussef's impeachment in a speculative
design mockumentary (Van Amstel & Gonzatto, in press).
We experimented extending speculative design with Theater of
the Oppressed (Van Amstel & Gonzatto, 2020).
Scrotien (2019) is a speculative design product that draws
attention to inequalities in body care and body presentation.
The political body needs to be awakened to deal with oppression
and liberation (Angelon & Van Amstel, 2020).
My students wrote a manifesto on dissent as a tactics to
decolonize the design body (Angelon & Van Amstel, in press)
In times of intense oppression, women of different origins must
coalesce to fight sexism (Eleutério & Van Amstel, 2020).
Design & Oppression Network: coalescing against all forms of
Theater Forum: Design and Precarious Work in Digital
Platforms (2020) addressing work exploitation.
Theater Forum: The Invasion of the Gringo Design Thinker
(2021) addressing colonialism.
The fight against oppression
must be the fight against all
forms of oppression, otherwise
one oppression replaces the other.
Violence is the visible outcome of less visible, intersecting,
structural, oppression relations (@socialclub406, 2020).
What can design do for the
What can the oppressed do
of the North
of the North
of the South
of the South
Pelanda, M. F. L., & van Amstel, F. M. C. (2021). A fumaça digital: inversão infraestrutural do COVID-19 pela perspectiva
Yanomami (The digital smoke: Infrastructural inversion of COVID-19 from the Yanomami perspective). International
Journal of Engineering, Social Justice, and Peace, 8(1), 69-85.
Van Amstel, F. M. (2008). Das interfaces às interações: design participativo do portal broffice.org. Thesis (Master in
Technology). Federal University of Technology Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil.
Amstel, Frederick M.C. van; Vassão, Caio A.; Ferraz, Gonçalo B. 2012. Design Livre: Cannibalistic Interaction Design. In:
Innovation in Design Education: Proceedings of the Third International Forum of Design as a Process, Turin, Italy.
Van Amstel, F. M., & Gonzatto, R. F. (2016). Design Livre: designing locally, cannibalizing globally. XRDS: Crossroads, The
ACM Magazine for Students, 22(4), 46-50.
Van Amstel, Frederick M.C and Gonzatto, Rodrigo Freese. (in press) Existential time and historicity interaction design.
Angelon, Rafaela; Van Amstel, Frederick M.C. (in press) Monster aesthetics in a decolonizing design experiment. Art,
Design & Communication in Higher Education.
Angelon, Rafaela; Van Amstel, Frederick M.C. (2020). The political body as a fulcrum for radical imagination in
metadesign. In: Proceedings of the III Design Culture Symposium, Unisinos, Porto Alegre, Brasil.
Van Amstel, Frederick M.C and Gonzatto, Rodrigo Freese. (2020) The Anthropophagic Studio: Towards a Critical Pedagogy
for Interaction Design. Digital Creativity, 31(4), p. 259-283.
Eleutério, Rafaella P. and Van Amstel, Frederick M.C. Matters of Care in Designing a Feminist Coalition. (2020). In:
Proceedings of the 16th Participatory Design Conference. Manizales, Colombia.
Frederick van Amstel @fredvanamstel
Service Design and Experience Design
DADIN - UTFPR