The coupling of design and authority in a Google search, the “internet search authority,” surprisingly results in entries which have more to do with the procedural and legislative aspects related to design: The “authority” issues rules for which the product of design or the designer has to comply with, or claims privilege in shaping the design product. Authority is usually attributed to an agent of enforcement regulating products and to an extent, that those produce design. Understood as a form of legitimized power, authority is realized only by the mutual recognition of those who hold power and those who do not.
A cliché argues that Italians cannot leave their moka pots behind when they go on a holiday, or the Turkish obsessively want their tea served in a specific type of glass, Japanese cars will nev-er reach the quality level of the Germans, the Chinese are the new rulers of the world of electronic gadgets and so on. Another recounts the obsession of those who hold possession of a unique or rare object carrying the signature of a famous designer and how it’s valued. How do we account for the authority of designed objects in our daily lives, or in the way we value other cultures?
Digital culture, on the other hand, independent of any geographical, national boundaries, has been enthusiastically embracing all kinds of sharing platforms and collaborative tools. Digital design culture seems to have built its own peculiar collaborative environment. This collaboration does away with authorship by way of open-source software (which are generally not de-vised by designers), or by acts like taking and modifying scripts, utilizing algorithms shared on-line by various designers. Our way of teaching is, therefore, heavily influenced by the way we learn, question, think about and produce design. Call it the “digital elimination of authorship” or the “digital design knowledge of many hands,” old authorial notions of intellectual property and copyright often remain meaningless in such a collaborative environment.
Taking these subject headings as possible strands we welcome contributions from all design-related disciplines and fields that address questions such as, but not limited to:
- In what ways do design and authority come together?
- How does design exert authority?
- How can design resist authority?
- How does authority shape design in shaping itself, its powers?
- How do products of design have authority over lives, cultures, countries, histories or how do they lose the authority they once had?
- When does design become complicit with authority in creating authoritarian structures?
- How does authoritarianism enforce design regimes that hold sway over the field of cultural production?
- In what ways can one explain the relationship of authorship, design and authority?
- Is it possible to talk about the authority of collective authorship in design?