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Bilal Alnouri, foto: Giannina Urmeneta Ottiker

Bilal Alnouri, foto: Giannina Urmeneta Ottiker

Elli Vassalou

Elli Vassalou

Ann De Keersmaecker

Ann De Keersmaecker

Bárbara Prada

Bárbara Prada

Autonomous design

Bachelor and master Visual Arts > Autonomous Design

A Practice in Relation to Society

How can we use our practice to contribute to society? It is from this critical question that the Autonomous Design programme takes on its own trajectory. We do this initially in interaction with fellow students: the studio is seen as a society in microcosm. From here, we regularly reach out to far beyond. In this way, today's society becomes the working terrain for Autonomous Design.

Our contemporary world challenges artists and designers to sharpen their roles and positions. As an autonomous designer, you have a critical approach to working with existing materials, structures and/or with clients. Working autonomously on commission or in a given context means primarily thinking about what urgencies are inherent to or hidden in the questions being proposed.

In Autonomous Design, we pay attention to the spaces, the materials, the technologies and the people involved: what are the ethical aspects, what is sustainable, who are the authors and the owners of the work, and so on. We care about how the work embeds itself in its environment and what that can mean in the longer term. With us, you can work on objects, actions, interactions, situations, relationships, working spaces, environments, political practices, organization models, open systems and much more. The one cannot be without the other: we place an object in a situation, or a model leads to an action. We work with people, with materials, with concepts and with the environment, and often with all of these aspects at once.

With our multifaceted practice, we set things in motion. We continue to bring our critical reflection in relation with the other (a neighbour, a colleague, a newcomer, a participant etc.) We have faith in our own ability and in our imagination, but not without placing these in dialogue with others. Again and again, we engage ourselves with the social and relational dimensions of what we are doing. Design and art are more a means than an end. It is not about what it is, but what it does; not the product, but the process.

Productive Paradoxes

We work with the tension that arises between autonomy and the commission, between art and design, between the individual and the collective, between the private and the commons, between the studio and society, between play and being serious. Here, contradictions are productive paradoxes that generate dynamics, tension and alertness.

In Autonomous Design, highly diverse practices are allowed to engage in dialogue. For this reason, we are open to students of all backgrounds and all feathers, as it were, thinkers and doers, idealists, activists, humanists and post-humanists, poets, feminists, travellers and nomads, and so on: the fast and the furious; the beauty and the beast.

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