Docu-Design or a reality check

2019-04-22T21:10:58Z (GMT) by RTD Conference Elizabeth Hale
Design, through current social transitions, has been invited to stand up and face the multidimensional geopolitical issues of our time. With this emerging demand, designers and researchers are challenging the limits of their discipline. This research project, based on time spent in the Calais Jungle (France’s largest and oldest informal Refugee Camp) reconsiders designer’s role(s) in social and contextual transitions. I realized rapidly on the ground, with much bewilderment, that the role I could have in this specific context as a designer was unbeknown to me. In face of the urgency of the situation, the Jungle’s inhabitants had become autonomous and by no means needed me, as a designer, to dictate their needs. However, it seemed primordial to be a witness to this ever transitional and both spatially and culturally evolving community of refugees who had created this world-town or town of the future. I instinctively used what design tools
I had in order to record this reality, becoming an on the ground design-researcher. I started composing data comprising installations, objects, videos, maps, texts and recordings. This practice, later named docu-design, used design to designate and document a context by materializing realities and creating artifacts in the same manner you would produce proof. Reflecting on this approach, is it possible to determine a way in which design could engage itself socially, culturally and politically, by preparing specific territories in order to act locally-centrically?