Master-Workshop «Replacing the «New Normal» – Imagining worlds»

by Susanna Hertrich

In Science Fiction it is the great catastrophes that often build the basis for massive societal changes. Believing in the «otherness» of the fictional worlds as described in the genre seems a too big challenge without the notion of a world in extreme crisis – leaving a blank slate where all existing norms, traditions and histories have been wiped out.

However, the societal changes that we experience with COVID-19 do not erase all that is known to us. The pandemic conquers our everyday life through seemingly small changes and rules. Life goes on as always – but with a sense of strangeness.

We want to take this moment of a «strangely familiar» everyday as our starting point to imagine how life would be if everything was completely different. We use our imagination to build different projects that engage with yet unthinkable alternative worlds; we embrace new societal forms and social utopias, we take the 1960s Hippie Modernism and its excitement, adaptation and reevaluation of new technologies as a starting point to push these ideas into a possible future and we want to elaborate experimental designs that dare to question all that is known to us in the sense of an «Extro-Science Fiction» (Meillassoux, 2013).

These rather unusual perspectives give way to explore how we can use design to negotiate and create new worlds – beyond an old and a «new normality». Designerly imaginations lead us to varied strategies and projects: objects, rooms and their interaction which imply guidelines for a newly imagined world-order; imaginary worlds that manifest in the form of alternative cartographies – narrative strategies within design fiction will be explored across a range of media.


Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia. Andrew Blauvelt, Ross Elfline (Hrsg), Walker Art Center, 2015

Science Fiction and Extro-Science Fiction. Quentin Meillassoux, Univocal, 2013

Carmen Baumeller, Imaginäre Welten entwerfen. UZH Magazin, 03/2001

The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift: Intellectual Barbarians. Donlon Books, 2016

Grand, S. & Wiedmer, M. (2010). Design Fiction: A Method Toolbox for Design Research in a Complex World, DRS, 2010.


Examples / Inspiration

Kibbo Kift

«The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift was a camping, hiking and handicraft group with ambitions to bring world peace. It was the first of three movements in England associated with the charismatic artist and writer John Hargrave (1894–1982). The Kindred was founded in 1920.

The mission was the belief that Kibbo Kift training would produce a core of healthy and creative individuals through whom the human race would evolve into a society without war, poverty and wasted lives.» Wikipedia

«Formed by John Hargrave in 1920, the Kindred of the Kibbo Kift were an extraordinary mixture of the archaic and the hypermodern. A back-to-the-land movement that used the techniques of contemporary advertising, it offered a holistic, dazzling vision. (...) Every-thing was styled: from the costumes – which totally exploded conventional 1920s body shapes with hooded jerkins and massive, multicoloured tabards – to the staffs and totem carvings that each member was encouraged to make.» The Guardian

Andrea Zittel

«Zittel verwandelt ihre Werke, die aus Skulpturen und Installationen, aus Einrichtungsge-genständen und Kleidungsstücken bestehen, in eine bewohnbare, artifizielle Welt, in der sich die Grenzen zwischen Kunst und Leben verwischen und die ein eigenes soziales Umfeld entstehen lassen.» Wikipedia

«...Throughout her career, Zittel has used her home, and her clothes, as a means to explore her subject. ‹My artwork, as well as my lived life, revolves around the contradictory nature of freedom›, she says. ‹I’ve spent time living in the confines of prescribed spaces, living with-out time for periods, eating and drinking only out of bowls, or living without running water or electric light›. Her work is designed to question the constraints of a supposedly free society.

‹My experiments question the definition of freedom as it is framed by capitalist society›, says Zittel. ‹Perhaps the only way to truly be free is to make our own rules.›» The New York Times