We regret to inform our colleagues, members of the DHS2020 scientific committee that due to the severe challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic the convenors have decided to postpone the DHS Annual Conference 2020 at the HGK FHNW in Basel to 2-4 September 2021, in agreement with the DHS Executive committee.

Given the severity of the situation, we are convinced that postponing the conference to next year is the best possible solution. We hope you understand this has been a hard decision for us and join us in our efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

We wish you all the best during these disruptive times and above all: Stay safe and keep the spirits high!


Click here for the website of the conference.

The “memory full” warning sent by a device when its drive reaches maximum capacity is both an irritant and an incitement for creativity. Responses include upgrading storage, editing and deleting content, or constraining an otherwise unfettered desire to archive everything. Actions like these can be read as a metaphor for how histories of design are shaped. Against a background of multiple temporalities and ontologies for design, this conference sets out to explore the relationship between design and memory. It invites reflection on the entanglements embodied by design between futurity and amnesia, critical discussion on data cultures, and debate around emerging approaches to the designed environment, such as forensics.

How can the memory of design be interpreted, shared, mined, or performed? Stories of social change are recorded in artefacts buried under layers of water or soil, in the plot twists of old novels or vintage media. The legacy of human activity passes into the material culture of non-human species, or enters their very physiology. Practices involving design as means to construct, repair and speculate about the past are integral to processes of codifying both canonic and alternative histories. To what extent can history writing be compared to a design project? Assumptions and bias are embedded in the ways facts are gathered and constructed as habitable stories. How long do these narrations remain functional before they need to be patched with new data? Are machines also learning bias when they are instructed to collect data and present it in meaningful forms?

The conference welcomes historic, contemporary and interdisciplinary approaches to the topic and invites contributions from design historians, and students and scholars in related fields; as well as writers, practitioners, educators, museum professionals, and activists who engage with design. Relevant topics include, but are not limited to:

  • the designed environment as distributed archive
  • emerging sites of knowledge production and dissemination
  • mediation and consumption of story-telling
  • design histories as design fictions
  • design and critical heritage
  • data cultures in design practice and mediation
  • blind spots in the memory of design
  • indigenous epistemologies
  • decolonizing sites of memory
  • alternative genealogies
  • design and personal or collective memory
  • design history as a form of activism and repair
  • the practitioner as a historian, the historian as a practitioner
  • relations between design practices and historiography
  • designerly ways of doing history
  • trans-modern and trans-cultural models
  • historicising emerging design practices
  • the challenges of digitalisation
  • radical pedagogies in design history


We welcome proposals for individual papers of 20 minutes, or proposals for thematically coherent panels of three papers. Panel proposals must include abstracts for all three papers in addition to a short description of the panel theme. We also encourage applications that propose alternative formats for research dissemination and collective knowledge production.

The deadline for submitting abstracts is 1 March 2020. Proposals should be submitted through the link on this page, and include:

  • title
  • abstract of up to 300 words
  • short biography of each author (up to 60 words)
  • authors’ names and affiliations
  • description of the format of the contribution (paper / panel / alternative format)
  • three keywords

Keynote speakers

The confirmed keynote speakers of the 2020 DHS Annual Conference will be Alexandra Midal, Jussi Parikka and the The Polycardinal Design Lexikon collective project with a fourth keynote to be announced. You may find further information on the keynotes below;

- Alexandra Midal is a free-lance curator, design theoretician and historian, visual theory filmmaker and professor in history and theory in design at HEAD University of Art and Design, Geneva. She’s the author of the book “Design by accident: For a new history of design” (Sternberg Press, 2019)

- Jussi Parikka is a writer, media theorist and professor in technological culture & aesthetics at Winchester School of Art (University of Southampton). He is also Visiting Researcher at FAMU in Prague and Visiting Professor, Chair of Media Archaeology, at University of Udine, Italy.

- The Polycardinal Design Lexikon collective project (C.Dilnot, A. Escobar, A.Gutierrez). The collective will be presented by Alfredo Gutierrez Borrero, zoo-technologist, specialising in alternative formats for both collaborative and participatory academic knowledge production and associate professor of Industrial Design at the Jorge Tadeo Lozano University, Bogotá.

Planned visits

- Bally in Schönenwerd_ a guided tour through the extraordinary museum of the Swiss shoe brand or a tour through the collection of the Ballyana family foundation, discovering the histories of design, manufacturing, distribution, and consumption, accompanied by fashion history specialists.

- VITRA design museum behind the scenes_ a guided tour in the conservation and restauration departments will reveal the challenges for preserving the unruly materiality of design icons.

- Novartis Campus_ an architectural guided tour in the so called “forbidden city” and visit to the archives of the pharmaceutical company Ciba-Geigy, a milestone for the Swiss graphic design internationalisation.

- Design Walks in the tradition of Lucius Burkhardt’s “Strollology” or science of strolling

- Schaulager: a visit to the innovative institution, combining the storage and display of contemporary art. The building developed by the architectural office Herzog & de Meuron structurally implements the progressive Schaulager concept.


2-4 September 2021


FHNW Academy of Art and Design, Basel, Switzerland

All submissions will be double blind peer-reviewed by the conference scientific committee. For any queries please contact cfp@memoryfull2020.org.

The CfP for this event will be relaunched in November 2020.

The call for abstracts will be relaunched in November 2020, requesting all delegates to hand in their proposal again.

The CfP for this event will be relaunched in November 2020.