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Design as Politics

Design as Politics by Tony Fry.

Design as Politics by Tony Fry.

This meaty book by design theorist Tony Fry looks at how flawed contemporary politics are not dealing with current sustainability issues, of which climate change plays only a minor part. The book explores the hows and whys of this and raises the need for a shift from “institutionalized politics as we know it to action in the realm of the political.” Through analysis, critique, design-linked proposals, explorations and case studies, this argument is explored.

Design plays an important part in this proposal for new, post-democratic politics. Fry argues that design, not in its current form but transformed into a “powerful agent of change,” can create and extend freedom – a vital form of political action. This argument is divided into two propositions, one involving the complete political overhaul of social and economic life to maintain positive change, while the second proposes that the political transformation is a much larger project involving the creation of “sustainment,” a term explored in the book.

Divided into four parts, Design as Politics begins by confronting this situation, shows the potential of what design can do, the problems and solutions, explores a key idea made by political philosopher and jurist Carl Schmitt and goes on to question “freedom by design.” The book sets out to make a case for design as politics in a time when humanity is “facing finitude.” Author Tony Fry is a director of a sustainment consultancy firm and adjunct professor of design at Griffith University in Queensland and has taught internationally.

Tony Fry, (Berg: 2011), 302 PP AUD$49.99.



Published online: 15 Dec 2011
Words: Cassie Hansen


Artichoke, September 2011

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