Attending this event?
To view sessions, please select the Grid view below.

After registering for the conference, you can log in here to save sessions to your personalized itinerary, sign up for workshops and performances with limited capacity, edit your profile, and edit your session description. For help using Sched, please see support.

For full details about the conference, please visit hastac2023.org
Back To Schedule
Friday, June 9 • 11:15am - 11:35am
Design is Not Neutral

Log in to save this to your schedule, view media, leave feedback and see who's attending!

The design field has a long history of excluding marginalized voices, and design education has played a significant role in perpetuating these exclusionary practices. The central text in design history courses, Megg’s History of Graphic Design, contains only 62 women out of 594 designers. People of color make up only 80. Traditional design curricula is defined through this canon of designers that prioritizes Eurocentric, capitalist, patriarchal approaches to design.

My work utilizes a feminist, practice-based approach to develop an anti-patriarchal and post-capitalist design pedagogy. This project challenges the notion that design is solely practiced within formal design structures, design schools, and professional bodies, focusing on re-centering subaltern forms of making in design education.
My intervention began with a podcast, social media, and a website containing resources for design educators to create equitable pedagogy. The podcast, titled “Design is Not Neutral” features design educators including Anne H. Berry, Jarrett Fuller, Nika Fisher, and others who have deeply researched the gaps in design education. The podcast’s episodes overwhelmingly discussed the industrialized system that has built design’s foundational teachings. As design education became institutionalized, it prioritized a more formalized, ‘professional’ approach to design. This shift was particularly pronounced in the United States, where design education became closely tied to the growth of corporate capitalism. In contrast, the Bauhaus school, founded in Germany in 1919, sought to integrate art, craft, and technology in a way that would create a more holistic approach to design education. Despite these efforts, design education has remained exclusionary which has marginalized craft-based design forms. The separation between craft, design, and arts is highlighted by the classifications of ‘high and low design’. These categories allow us to analyze the power dynamics and oppressive structures that have historically excluded craft from being considered a ‘high design’. By deconstructing these binaries, we can challenge dominant ideologies and begin to open new possibilities for design education.

For the second phase of my intervention, I created a knitting workshop that seeks to challenge these power dynamics and recenter ‘low design’ or craft forms of making in the design classroom. Through the use of non-digital materials, the workshop generated a connection to every day creating for participants and established a collaborative classroom. Using a feminist educational methodology, the knitting workshop model opens debates about the gendered hierarchies in design curricula that dictate what is defined as ‘design’. I increase agency to a practice traditionally designated as a ‘craft’, by presenting alternative ways to devise and initiate a design process. The practice of knitting circles is a design process that is slow and deeply personal in contrast with traditional profit-focused design education. My approach to challenging dominant patriarchal, Eurocentric, and heteronormative design education aligns with several feminist scholars, including bell hooks, Louise Schouwenberg, Paulo Fiere, and Cheryl Buckley. These scholars emphasize the importance of 'design in the margins' — small-scale acts of producing in the classroom that can begin the process of a profound change in education.

Developing a design education-focused podcast creates a more accessible and centralized source of resources for individual educators to incorporate feminist curricula into their classrooms. This project is unique in its focus on re-visioning design education through a feminist pedagogical methodology, its emphasis on challenging gendered stereotypes around craft-based design forms, and its engagement with the capitalist historical development of design education. This intervention seeks to create a more inclusive and equitable design pedagogy that centers marginalized perspectives by incorporating subaltern forms of making. This project allows design education to become more diverse, accessible, and empowering, ultimately leading to a more just and equitable society.


Grace Hamilton

MFA Candidate & Instructor of Record, Notre Dame

Friday June 9, 2023 11:15am - 11:35am EDT
PS 311 (Design Center)