Design & Transience
Design History Society Annual Conference 2022
Design history has expanded its interest from the permanence of artifacts and the values they embody for the moment of writing to a focus on the processes of writing. Shaped by post-Cold War dynamics, we are now surrounded with a global situation of indeterminacy and volatility that reflects on the transience of populations, natural resources, information, heritage (both tangible and intangible), and settlements i.e. the expandability of the planet. This is further reinforced by the inescapable repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has radically transformed our daily lives and led to a painstaking realization of our own ephemerality as well as of everything we took for granted. The present moment forces us even more to rethink whether transience has to occupy a place as important as permanence does for the history of design. This conference intends to open up a space for discussions regarding the ways design and design history would deal/has dealt with transience and the lessons to be learnt from design’s encounter with transience.
The multifaceted relation between design and transience enables diverse perspectives and extensive discussions. Imagine the design of temporary settlements (which might end up being permanent) or the design of solutions for humanitarian crises regarding any human need. Imagine the state of information and knowledge being subject to digital retrieval and manipulation more than ever, constantly bringing about the problem of selection, storage and conservation as well as tactics of visualization. Transience also pushes forward an agenda not only of adaptability and flexibility, but also one of vigilance against planned obsolescence. How can design deal with the consequences of Industry 4.0, preempt its planetary impact regarding human and non-human aspects? To what extent can recent approaches like circular design provide a way out of the ecological crisis? How should the historiography of design take on the challenge of transience?
In the light of the discussion above we invite papers that deal with transience and design from a historical or contemporary perspective. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
What challenges and opportunities do digital resources and technologies present for design historiography? How can design historians make use of computer and communication technologies in analyzing, documenting, presenting and preserving their resources? What can we learn from design history in dealing with the complex problems brought about by transience?
How has design responded to and how would it respond to transience of populations forced by various humanitarian, natural and ecological crisis? What is the role of temporality in shaping approaches to design and designing? How would design deal with the question of ephemerality? How does/did design respond to the ephemerality of human life? How do digital technologies transform aesthetic conventions of design? What is the role of transience in shaping our relations with the designed objects? How did different design movements frame the temporality of objects?
How is transience inscribed in the materiality of the object? What is the role of designed objects and spaces in the fluidity of cultural, ethnic, national, gender and religious identities? How does the professional identity of designers evolve in response to rapid technological, environmental, economical and social transformations? How would we define aesthetics of transience? How is the transience of human body interpreted in art and design? How does impermanence challenge preservation, collection and documentation? How would museums and other temporary exhibitions like expos respond to transience?
The conference will be held in a hybrid format to allow both on-line and in-person presentations. We invite proposals for individual papers, thematic panels of three papers, poster presentations and workshops related to the conference theme. All submissions will be double blind peer-reviewed.
The extended deadline for submissions is 25 April 2022.
Paper, panel and poster submissions will be made through EasyChair.
For workshop proposals please fill in the form and email to email@example.com by 25 April in 2022.
Please write “DHS 2022 Workshop Proposal”
in the subject line of your e-mail.
The Design History Society offers bursaries for DHS Student and/or precariously employed members. The bursary covers the DHS member concessionary conference fee. For more information please visit
For any queries please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
F. Zeynep Ata
Izmir Institute of Technology