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.
LAURA PREGGER As a designer and feminist, I want to understand freedom as chosen dependency. I am interested in how ways of relating, situations and rituals can be designed to be used as a potential for social transformation. At the same time, I ask myself how I can responsibly deal with my privileges as a white, queer, abled-body, cis woman and lecturer? Discrimination in the form of racism, heteronormativity, white supremacy, ableism, sexism, ageism, transphobia and classism remain too often unchallenged and thus reproduced even at our institute (HyperWerk FHNW). I would like to advocate that structural oppression in particular - in the sense of institutional critique - can be understood, named and criticised. As a mentor and lecturer, I would like to cultivate and hold learning spaces in which self-reflection, respect, solidarity, caring, diversity, friendliness towards mistakes and caring for each other are understood as the basis. Allowing irritation, ignorance and uncertainty are important aspects of this, as is expressing what is desirable. For this, we need different spaces of trust that enable self-critical, empowering and imaginative conversations and understand mutual listening as a central moment of education and thus as a broadening of horizons.