Student Publication – Dark Designs: Critical Cases in Design in Dark Times

Published on: August 8th, 2016


The Spring 2016 semester at Parsons School of Design welcomed the production of self-published books by MA Design Studies students. Following Acts of Olympic Dissent by students in Jilly Traganou’s Spatial Studies course, students in Otto von Busch’s graduate-level elective “Design in Dark Times” also published their culminated research into Dark Designs: Critical Cases in Design in Dark Times (available on Amazon).

The book features 10 cases of “dark designs” alongside critical or interrogative designs that either act as solutions, hopeful meditations, or objects meant to shock the user into thinking about design in alternative futures.

Based heavily on political theory and a keen awareness that design has paved the way for the Anthropocene, these case studies deal with subversive objects and designs that deal with larger topics including The Quantified Self, The Internet of Things and states of surveillance, DIY ethics, democratic design, and technological limitations to create a certain worldview of a preferred lifestyle.

The essays in this book are seemingly threaded together with the realist-perspective of “Who does what to whom, and in whose interest?” Skepticism is followed by research and, more importantly, how designers can offer better futures in the way of problem-solving.

Click here for a full version of the publication.

Program Contact

Caroline Dionne, Program Director

Program Update

Parsons is not currently admitting new students to this master’s degree program. Parsons is now offering a Graduate Minor in Design Studies that is designed to complement the MA History of Design and Curatorial Studies and other graduate programs across the university in design, liberal arts, and social research.