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Open Call: Istanbul Design Biennial

The curator of the fourth Istanbul Design Biennial, Jan Boelen, announced the event’s eight key themes and the open call for projects from designers and thinkers

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Text by Rab Messina

December 15 marks the deadline for submissions to the open call of the Istanbul Design Biennial. The concept? The curator of the event’s fourth edition, Jan Boelen, proposed A School of Schools. In a fast-paced world that increasingly challenges the tenets of design education, how can a design biennial serve as an experimental space that can lead to lateral approaches in design didactics?

“As design becomes pervasive, the discipline can no longer claim to offer solutions to everything,” argues Boelen. “In fact, the one-size-fits-all approach of many universal global systems is showing its cracks and exclusions. Similarly, design education —where the field and its practitioners have traditionally been reviewed and refined— now finds itself navigating new constraints and challenges regarding relevance, adaptability, accessibility, and finances.”

Designers, architects, scientists, engineers, chefs, craftspeople, activist and the general public can propose a learning experiment —or participate in one. In other words, it’s a twofold open call, which asks for both schools —which can be as small as a one-hour tutorial or as thorough as proposal for an alternative university— and learners —including humans, bots and machines.

The School of Schools is divided in eight main themes. Measures and Maps questions the idea of the map as the territory, while Time and Attention is concerned with how keeping pace with media has become more important than reflection or learning. Mediterranean and Migration explores the shift in geopolitics, while Disasters and Earthquakes studies the transformative forces of literal Earth shifts. In Food and Customs the curatorial team contrasts the rise of food insecurity and our ability to make social connections and transfer cultural knowledge, while Patterns and Rhythm analyses repetition, “a stigmatised method of learning.” Cryptocurrencies and late capitalism make an appearance in Currency and Capital, while Parts and Pockets focuses on maker, hacker and open-source communities.

To submit an application, both schools and learners can visit the Biennial’s website here.

From left to right, İKSV chairman Bülent Eczacıbaşı, curator Jan Boelen, director of the Istanbul Design Biennial Deniz Ova and İKSV general director Gorgun Taner

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