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Design is political - by Jan Boelen

In April, Z33 attended the Milan furniture trade fair for the fourth time. Over the past few years, Z33 has become one of leading voices in the European design debate. Z33 is embraced by the most prestigious magazines and top institutions such as the V&A and the Vitra Design Museum are eager to work with us.

We are not afraid to take the lead in the design debate. Not because we want to simply envelope ourselves with the shroud of avant-gardism, because we think that everything new is by definition good, but rather because we feel the contemporary art and design debate is not a mere academic exercise. It is an essential part of the debate about how we choose to organise our society. Design is in essence political. The products and systems we design have an influence on how we produce, how we structure our society, even on how we think and feel.

All around us, we see how production systems, financial systems and social models are crashing into their limitations and failing. We shouldn’t be fatalistic in this: systems both succeed and fail, but all of those systems were designed by people, for people. A design can be rethought, and everyone can play a part in doing so. At Z33, we – in collaboration with artists and designers – have to look to the future with a critical eye, sketch possibilities as yet inconceivable, and warn about brutal visions of the future. Not to frighten people, but because we believe that we can make a difference.

Jan Boelen –artistic director Z33

Photo: Mercenary Cubiclists by Tobias Revell - Design Beyond Production preview in Milan 2013

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