'The Cost of Design' explores the complexities of the historic and contemporary relationship between design and economy. Design is both influenced by, and can shape, economic systems. Both 'cost' and 'economy' are to be understood beyond their financial implications. 'Cost' is envisaged as the exchange of resources, meaning or value. The conference looks at how design sustains, accelerates or challenges dominant systems, and examines the resulting social, cultural, economic or environmental consequences that arise. It examines the roles of design in rapidly changing economies, examining the relationship between technological advances and the economy. 'The Cost of Design' also looks at design's relationship to the political economy and the global/regional/local exchanges occurring within. Design practices can react to, resist, challenge or seek to influence economies that are viewed to negatively impact in some way. The ways in which design has been used to affect positive change within economic systems will also be examined.

The conference welcomes historic, contemporary and interdisciplinary approaches to the topic, and invites contributions from design historians, scholars, and academics in related fields, as well as design practitioners and educators, museum professionals and students. Topics might include:

Technological and changing economies

  • Impact of automation
  • Digitisation of design culture
  • Hybridisation of physical and virtual spaces

Political economies and global/local exchange

  • Supply chains, manufacture and relocation vis-à-vis geopolitical and cultural borders
  • Challenges to/persistence of dichotomies of North/South; East/West; Centre/Periphery
  • Dynamics of transcultural (intra- or extra regional) design
  • The relationship between design and soft power
  • Appropriation and copyright

Resistance, sharing economies and design

  • Design for "post-growth" economies
  • Political design in a national/regional/local context
  • Artisanal/craft solutions
  • Indigenous autonomy
  • Designing for wellbeing, happiness and social values

Individual papers of 20 minutes or proposals for full panels of three papers related to the topics listed above or theme of 'The Cost of Design' will be considered. Panel proposals must include abstracts for all three papers, in addition to a short description of the panel theme.

All proposals will be double-blind reviewed and selected by the conference committee. Submissions are due Monday 25 February 2019 and should:

  1. Be sent in the form of a Microsoft Word document (.doc, .docx)
  2. Not exceed 300 words
  3. Include the title of the paper
  4. Include the author's full name, title, position and institution
  5. Include a brief professional biography (not exceeding 50 words)

Submissions should be sent to costofdesign.dhs2019@gmail.com to the attention of the Academic Convener.

The Design History Society offers bursaries for student speakers whose abstracts have been accepted and who are members of the Design History Society.

Elizabeth Kramer, Academic Convener
School of Art, Design and Social Sciences Northumbria University Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK

Confirmed keynote speakers and the conference website link will be forthcoming.

Conference Website: Https://costofdesign2019.com