The Social Design Class 2021-22 builds Itself

Inhabiting a Space in Common

At the beginning of the winter semester, the social design class (2021-22) found itself with an empty classroom. No elements where to be found. Not a single chair. The infrastructures which Johanna, Jeanne and Marjetica’s classes previously inhabited were gone. The memories are now either images or oral history. Finding us within this empty space begged the question: what kind of space does a social design studio need? What are our spatial needs as a group that learns together?

Everyone in the class brought a gift for the studio. Some of them were symbolic, other rather pragmatic objects: a wok for cooking, some plants, a shelf, a book, a kettle, a coffee machine, a poster with phrases, an immense white carpet, some pillows and cushions. 

Another observation: when looking at self-build references we tend to orbit around the same (male) names: Enzo Mari’s Autoprogettazione, Ken Isaacs’ Living Structures or Victor Papanek’s Nomadic Furniture. All great examples of emancipatory design practices. But who are the female references of self-build?

We turned to Celine Condorelli as a source of inspiration and decided to adapt one of her designs. First by studying her mobile architectures and then by playing with the studios’ own spatial qualities, trying to make her design respond to our needs and desires: to cook, to rest, to assemble, to read, to draw, to chat, to design. 

The building of our studio infrastructure was meant to be as well a process of group-building itself: we cut, sanded, painted and fixed them together. By doing so, some of us developed new bonds among themselves but also with the space we inhabit. 

This spatial inventory is meant to grow, unfold as we use it and hopefully it will also support us to achieve continuity as a class. Already it is becoming a place to welcome and comfort ourselves, guests and friends. 

The space group is Marie-Theres Böhmker, Isaac Bolton, Jeanie Brell, Zineb Mahassin, Mu-Heng Tsai, Sveon Schröder.

Inhabiting a Space in Common