Student Publication – Provocative Products: Provotypes and Provoprops

Published on: August 15th, 2016

FullSizeRender (1)

Alongside the exhibition by the same same, Otto von Busch and a of group students in the MA Design Studies program published a text companion to “Provocative Products,” which exhibited during Parsons Festival taking place within NYCxDesign 2016.

Provocative Products: Provotypes and Provoprops is a collection of final papers produced in tandem with objects meant to provoke action or thought surrounding Earth Day. Interspersed between the texts are comparative cases of historical “provoprops” such as Martin Luther’s hammer, “raw” milk co-ops, and John McConnell’s Earth Flag.

The class offered design writers and theorists the opportunity to pair up with practitioners to create objects that provoke new possibilities and modes of thinking among consumers. For example, what if humans neglected Earth to the point of forced recolonization? A series of postcards designed by Lisa Merk and Ari Elefterin titled “How Sad Life Would Be on Mars: A Tribute to Earthling Nostalgia” almost romanticizes natural and man-made design found on Earth and forces the consumer of this object to envision a future where this nostalgia becomes a reality of longing.

“Permanently colonizing Mars means we must contemplate the emotional loss we will collectively feel once we no longer experience earthly materiality. These postcards are for communication between Earthlings and our Martian explorers as links between the old world and the new, and as reminders of the majesty and rarity of our blue planet,” the authors write in the book.

The book closes with an essay by von Busch, explaining provocation in terms of tactics, violent disruptions, and strategic goals that rely on interaction rather than isolation. The objects in this book are tools of disruption that when used creatively and thoughtfully do more than just their basic function—they transgress, they challenge, and they have the possibility of enacting emotion within the consumer, who is just as much of a designer when prompted.

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.