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What is DeSForM

DeSForM, the Design Conference speaks to the notion that the nature of things, the essence of what a fabricated object is, was about to be, and really should be, completely and fundamentally questioned, re-defined, and exploded.

We believe that our current conceptions need to be shattered once and for all so that we can be truly creative in how we contribute to the conceiving of the NEW THINGS.

DeSForM does this by inviting Creative people from very different practicing contexts and representing somewhat different aspects of the design disciplinary spectrum. If we succeed in accumulating the views and the abilities each brings in the conceiving of ideas and things, then surely the results would be very, very different, and might even be important in driving the practice and discipline of Design forward in some way.

In 2005 DeSForM was born!

We believe that DesForM is the first international conference seeking to present current research into the nature, character and behaviour of emerging new typologies of co-designed, content rich, connected and intelligent objects within adaptive systems. It aims to bring together researchers in the many related fields of design to assess the outcomes of this research and begin to identify issues and territories for future investigation and exploration.

Our original working premise for this research was that forms, either concrete or abstract, always carry or mediate meanings. It is the responsibility of designers to make good use of these meanings, for example, to make products beautiful, to stress the importance of certain values, or to improve a product’s ease of use. Further, it should promote or negotiate enriched experiences between people (communities) and people, people and objects, and in time between objects (systems of objects) and objects. Design uses its own languages for this purpose, just as poets, painters, journalists, sculptures, filmmakers and other artists do. Objects, whether hard, soft or digital, are still being designed using a mono-sensorial approach rather than a multi-sensorial approach.

Design has long since practiced and developed its ideas on a cultural platform, rather than merely on a technological, marketing or a financial and business base. Understanding people, not as a single intellectual or physiological entity, but rather as a member of a cultural expression within a socio-political paradigm or ‘world-view’ is the essence of this cultural platform. The DeSForM community has debates these ideas in both the European (UK, Netherlands, Germany) and the Asian (Taiwan) contexts.

Things! ... what & how shall they become?

Through DeSForM, we can open even more widely the debate on what it means to represent or mediate ideas, function, and intelligence in a particular cultural context through a new language which has not hither to been over-run with only modernist Western nuances, idioms and formal icons from bygone eras. Particularly in 2009, in an Asian context, we debated how objects, whether digital or physical, are moving from a functional relationship with us to a cultural and empathetic relationship from short term 'forgettable' relationships to long term, sustained relationships.

As objects are beginning to be considered as part of multi-dimensional ECO system (potentially being physically, digitally and behaviourally different in nature) we need to be questioning how and out of what we could be creating them; and how might they be manifested over time through use by different hands and in different contexts?

If we explore this new complexity in objects, we believe that we need to know how to read the objects and how to design them to be read in the way we intend, irrespective of additional readings or meanings which people might add and re-appropriate. Tomorrow’s objects, which we expect, are in a continual state of becoming.

As if this were not enough, we have also challenged ourselves with the ambition to develop precise formulation of new theories and subsequent tools and processes which design thinkers and practitioners alike could work within the creation of such new possibilities. For example, some 20 years ago, researchers started working hard to put most of the 3D and material design elements (engineering drawings, stress analysis, production manufacturing simulations and so on) into the language of the computer, which is why we have CAD now. Our ambition is to seek to promise the next contemporary breakthroughs of similar impact in the face of today’s new realities.    

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