Imagining Otherwise encompasses current and past projects at the FHNW Academy of Art and Design, and strives toward socially transformative educational and design practices and more equitable futures.
The project started in October 2018, against the backdrop of massive feminist mobilizations, such as NiUnaMenos, Women's March, and Feminist Strike; and the rising demands from the students for design education that counters patriarchal-colonial narratives. Inspired by the research and activism of Palestinian design educator and researcher Danah Abdulla, we joined forces to start imagining design otherwise—a practice that is critical, situated, reflexive, and socially transformative.
Believing in the transformative potential of design and echoing Colombian anthropologist Arturo Escobar's words, we began asking ourselves: “How can design be infused with a more explicit sense of politics?” How can we participate in the recentering of design education by specifically situating it in relation to structures of inequality, sexism, racism, and colonialism? And how can we disrupt hegemonic epistemologies, ontologies, and systems from within a Eurocentric institution, and strive toward more equitable, pluralistic futures?
On this website, you can delve into different projects realized since 2018. They do not attempt to answer the aforementioned questions, nor to provide universally replicable solutions. Instead, they invite you to open your mind to alternatives, and to open up spaces of potential for change—as expressed by feminist activist and writer bell hooks: “a space where there is unlimited access to the pleasure and power of knowing, where transformation is possible.”
Co-directors: Mayar El-Bakry, Maya Ober and Laura Pregger
Imagining Otherwise was co-conceived by Maya Ober and Laura Pregger. In 2019, Mayar El-Bakry joined the team to co-curate Educating Otherwise, a continuing education program.
AYLIN YILDIRIM–TSCHOEPE is a cultural anthropologist and architect. In her research, she deals with questions related to urban anthropology, environmental anthropology, gender and migration studies, urban studies and explores possibilities of interdisciplinary methodology and digital humanities. In addition to her practice as an architect, she has pursued her research interest in the nexus between urban and socio-cultural development with a master thesis in Frankfurt and Istanbul (2005-2007), and has deepened her knowledge with a doctorate in urban studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (2008-2012). In order to expand her transdisciplinary research and teaching experience, she continued her studies with a PhD in Anthropology at Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (2011-2018). Since 2009, she has taught as a Fellow at Harvard University (Anthropology, Landscape Architecture, Urban Design) and TU Darmstadt (International Development), and as a Visiting Professor at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston (Architecture) and Boğaziçi University in Istanbul (Anthropology). Aylin applies her experiences as a postdoctoral fellow/ cultural anthropologist in the interdisciplinary SNF project “Visual Communication in Participative Urban Planning Processes,” a project between the Institute for Visual Communication HGK FHNW and the Institute of Cultural Studies at the University of Basel.