You are on page 1of 3

12—13 October 2018

A programme of talks, debates and workshops led by

participants including Ruth Catlow, Sara Gold, Joseph Grima,
Adam Greenfield, Dougald Hine, Natalie Kane, Torange
Khonsari, Justin McGuirk, Nils Norman, Nina Power, Joseph
Rykwert, Vera Sacchetti, Eleanor Saitta, Jana Scholze,
Ben Terrett, John Thackara, Stacco Troncoso, Sumitra Upham,
Ann Marie Utratel and Ben Vickers.

Ivan llich was an Austrian social provide them have created possible through co-creation
philosopher, polymath and radical monopolies. At the same and shared responsibility.
priest and a perceptive critic time, there is a growing interest
of industrialised society, which in alternative political and The design profession is
he saw as forcing people into economic systems that can questioning the kind of society
‘compulsory consumption’. better serve the interests of a it is helping to create. Long defined
In recent years, the thinking fair society and a planet under by the consumerist model that
of Illich has come back into ecological strain. The idea of Illich repudiated, designers are
currency. In his book Tools for the commons – co-produced increasingly seeking to produce
Conviviality (1973), Illich argued and self-managed wealth – can different kinds of tools and
that the nature of modern tools, help reframe our understanding new forms of social relations.
from machines to schools, had of cities, the digital realm and As we become ever more
the effect of making people natural resources. environmentally conscious, the
dependent and undermined their idea that the designer’s role is to
own natural abilities. What he Illich himself was an influence on create novelties for new markets
called ‘convivial tools’ were the commons movements. In an has become less acceptable.
those that encouraged people era when rampant privatisation This programme, which brings
to think for themselves and be makes many nostalgic for the days together designers, technologists,
more socially engaged. of a robust welfare state, the philosophers and artists,
commons seems to offer one way explores whether they can help
Such ideas are timely in an out of the deadlock between private to create what Illich would call
age when tools are becoming interests and public responsibility. a convivial society.
more and more powerful. Our Cooperative movements – in the
machines increasingly do much worlds of technology, urbanism
of our thinking and remembering and agriculture – suggest that an
for us, and the companies that alternative future could be made
Friday 12 October Saturday 13 October Schooling or Deschooling?
Commonspoly Convivial Tools symposium Chair: Joseph Grima
Bauhaus & Ulm Bakala Auditorium Torange Khonsari, Nils Norman
the Design Museum the Design Museum and Vera Sacchetti
11.00–13.00 11.00–17.00 The book that brought Illich to
Commonspoly is a hack and a Leading designers, curators, public attention was Deschooling
critique of the game Monopoly. technologists and theorists Society (1971), a radical critique
Players aim first to re-municipalise discuss the legacy of Ivan Illich’s of the nature of institutionalised
private goods and then turn them concept of conviviality. education in western society.
into a Commons – you’ll learn This session explores the
why this is the best strategy while Welcome legacy of Illich’s thinking around
playing the game. Rather than 11.00–11.15 education. Drawing on current
compete against each other, Sumitra Upham and models of alternative learning,
players must overcome their Justin McGuirk speakers will explore the
conditioning and ‘rational, self- implications of deschooling and
interest’ to instead maximise What are Convivial Tools? the meaning of convivial education.
cooperative behaviours and 11.15–12.15
create a commons-oriented Chair: Justin McGuirk Lunch 
locality. Games leaders: Stacco Adam Greenfield, Nina Power 13.35–14.30
Troncoso, Ann Marie Utratel and and John Thackara
Ruth Catlow. Illich argued that modern society Emergent Cooperativisim
was hardwired to turn us 14.30–15.30
A Convivial Table into ‘addict-consumers’, at the Chair: Ben Vickers
Walmer Yard expense of our own natural Sarah T Gold, Eleanor Saitta
19.00–21.00 abilities. Illich believed that we and Ben Terrett
‘Tables: A School of Expanded need to master our tools, lest How are new technologies
Formats’ is a series of six curated they master us. He also felt that helping to create a more
dinners led by Jana Scholze for our tools should encourage cooperative and convivial society?
the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial – participation, trust and sociability: What limits do we need to place
A School of Schools. It intends on digital tools in order to prevent
to test the alternative curatorial Convivial tools are those which them from overshadowing and
format of a dinner as tool for give each person who uses them undermining human ability?
teaching and learning. the greatest opportunity to enrich In this session, Illich’s concept
A Convivial Table, the 2nd the environment with the fruits of conviviality will be used as
dinner in the series, has been of his or her vision. Industrial a framework for a discussion
conceived in conjunction with tools deny this possibility to those on the potential of an open,
the Design Museum’s Convivial who use them, and they allow networked society and how the
Tools symposium. The dinner their designers to determine co-operatively owned Internet
brings together a group of 20 the meaning and expectations is becoming a reality. The group
curators, designers and thinkers of others. will reflect on emerging tools
to reflect on Illich’s concept of and technologies enabling
conviviality in a social setting. This first session will discuss greater social production, new
By taking part in a series of the criteria for a convivial society forms of citizen participation
rituals and shared experiences, in today’s networked age, and and digital commons.
participants will be encouraged the tools needed to shape it.
to question conventional forms Reflection 2
of participation and interaction Reflection 1 Joseph Rykwert
and stimulate focused discussions Dougald Hine 15.30–16.00
around the meaning of a 12.15–12.35
convivial society. The Open Session
This final session is an opportunity
for any of the participants, and
anyone in the audience, to reflect
on the day’s proceedings and
what the learnings might be.
Participant biographies Haunted Machines which Eleanor Saitta is a hacker, Ben Vickers is a curator,
looks at the use of magical designer, artist, writer, and writer, explorer, publisher,
Ruth Catlow is an artist and narrative in technology. barbarian. She makes a living technologist and luddite.
curator, co-founder and co- and a vocation of understanding He is CTO at the Serpentine
director of Furtherfield, Ruth Torange Khonsari is co- how complex, transdisciplinary Galleries in London, co-
Catlow is a recovering web- founder of the art and systems and stories fail and founder of Ignota Books and
utopian and has worked since architecture practice public redesigning them to fail better. an initiator of the open-source
the mid-90s with network works and course leader Among other things, she monastic order unMonastery.
practices in arts, technology of MA: Design for Cultural consults on strategy and
and social change. Commons at London architecture for firms seeking
Metropolitan University. to build or grow their security Convivial Tools Curators
Sarah T Gold is a leading Her projects are socially and practices or secure specific
expert in emerging issues politically motivated and products, advises news Justin McGuirk Justin McGuirk
and trends in privacy, security directly impact public space, organisations and NGOs is Chief Curator at the Design
and technology. She founded working with communities, targeted by nation states, and Museum. He has been head of
IF in 2015 and has a well- grassroots organisations, builds immersive transmedia Design Curating & Writing at
established reputation for her government bodies and participation events. Design Academy Eindhoven,
commitment to changing the cultural institutions. director of Strelka Press, the
way personal data is managed. Ben Terrett is a designer and design critic of The Guardian,
Sarah’s won a range of awards, Nils Norman is a London/ CEO at Public Digital which and the editor of Icon magazine.
including Forbes 30 Under 30 Amsterdam-based artist, helps governments and large His book Radical Cities: Across
in 2016, and is a practitioner for writer and educator working organisations around the world Latin America in Search of a
the Research Institute in the across public art, architecture adapt to the internet era. He’s New Architecture is published
Science of Cyber Security and and urban planning. His won various industry awards by Verso.
a Fellow of the RSA. projects are informed by including the Design Museum’s
local politics and ideas on Design of the Year and a D&AD Sumitra Upham is Curator
Joseph Grima is an architect, alternative economic, Black Pencil. Ben holds a series of Public Programmes at the
curator and writer. He is ecological systems and play. of non-exec roles; a Governor Design Museum. Previously,
Creative Director of Design From 2007-2017 he was of University of the Arts she was Design Curator at
Academy Eindhoven; Artistic Professor at the Royal Danish London, a member of the HS2 Oxo Tower Wharf, Associate
Director of Matera European Academy of Fine Art in Design Panel and an advisor Curator at the Institute of
Capital of Culture 2019, Copenhagen where he helped to the London Design Festival. Contemporary Arts, London
and Founder and partner at facilitate the School of Walls and part of the exhibitions
Space Caviar. and Space. Stacco Troncoso is the team at White Cube, London.
advocacy coordinator for She holds an MA in Curating
Adam Greenfield is a London- Nina Power is a philosopher Commons Transition and Contemporary Design from
based writer and urbanist. and cultural critic. She is a the P2P Foundation, and a Kingston University.
His most recent book, Radical Senior Lecturer in Philosophy co-founder of the Guerrilla
Technologies: The Design of the University of Roehampton. Translation collective. He is
Everyday Life, was published Nina has written extensively the designer and content
by Verso in 2017. on feminist theory, art and editor for CommonsTransition.
activism and is the author org, the P2P Foundation blog
Dougald Hine is a writer, of One Dimensional Woman. and the Commons Strategies
thinker and teacher who Group website.
has been at least partly Joseph Rykwert is a globally
responsible for the creation renowned critic and historian John Thackara is a writer
of organisations including the who became one of very few and advisor. His book How
Dark Mountain Project, School writers to be awarded the To Thrive In the Next Economy:
of Everything, Spacemakers RIBA’s highest honour in 2014, Designing Tomorrow’s World
and a school called HOME. the Royal Gold Medal. He is the Today will be published in
In 2006, he travelled to author of countless books and China in December. John
Cuernavaca to participate in essays, including the widely curated the Doors of Perception
a gathering to mark the fifth acclaimed On Adam’s House conference for 20 years, in
anniversary of the death of in Paradise: the Idea of the Amsterdam and India, and was
Ivan Illich. There he met Illich’s Primitive Hut in Architectural commissioner of the social
friends and co-conspirators, History, first published in 1971. innovation biennial, Dott 07 and
whose company has been a the French design biennial City
recurring source of insight and Vera Sacchetti is a design Eco Lab. He is a Senior Fellow
fellowship in the years since. critic, co-curator of TEOK at the Royal College of Art.
Basel and co-founder of
Natalie Kane is Curator of editorial consultancy Ann Marie Utratel is part of
Digital Design at the Victoria Superscript. She serves in a the Commons Transition team,
and Albert Museum, London variety of curatorial, research and is a co-founder of the
where she is responsible for and editorial roles, most Guerrilla Translation collective.
the care, research, display recently as associate curator Her work helps connect a
and collection of digital design of the 4th Istanbul Design widening network of people
Design: Daly & Lyon

in the Museum. As well as Biennial – A School of Schools. involved in forward-thinking

a writer, Natalie is also a Her writing has appeared in communities including the
visiting tutor at the European Disegno, Metropolis and The Commons and P2P movement,
Institute of Design in Avery Review, among others. collaborative economy, open
Barcelona, and half of licensing, open culture, open
curatorial research project cooperativism, and beyond.