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.
Dr Danah Abdulla is a designer, educator and researcher based in London, UK
DANAH ABDULLA is a designer, educator and researcher interested in new narratives and practices in design that push the disciplinary boundaries and definitions of the discipline. She is Programme Director of Graphic Design at Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Colleges of Arts, UAL. Prior to this role, she was Senior Lecturer in Communication Design at Brunel University London, and was a Lecturer in the design school at London College of Communication. Danah is a founding member of the Decolonising Design research group, and the Creative Director and Editor of Kalimat Magazine, a non-profit publication about Arab thought and culture. She holds a PhD from the design department at Goldsmiths, University of London. Danah's research is particularly focused on decolonising design, possibilities of design education, design culture(s) with a focus on the Arab region, the politics of design, publishing, and critical views of social design.