Ever since man has conquered the Earth, the scale of the effect on his environment has been increasing. The population is steadily growing (every eight years there are a billion more of us). The development of cities is matched by the spread of slums, there are more and more buildings, cars, household objects, services, there is more innovative technology, and the virtual realm is full of more and more data. Famine, poverty, and garbage are also on the rise. Designers are the spectators, but also the actors (and perhaps even the directors and the set producers) of this performance. Various design disciplines intersect in all aspects of man’s existence – from design of public space or means of transportation, to designing mobile applications, bank services, or experiences. Never before have designers had such great opportunities before them; never have they borne such responsibilities.

Excess is the word that describes the condition of the modern man. Alongside the satiation felt by the citizens of “developed countries,” billions of others are oppressed by poverty, famine, and homelessness. Though feelings of satiety and non-satiety are subjective, on a societal scale the presence of these phenomena indicates the extent to which the modern world lacks harmony – it has fallen into extremes. Economic instability in times of globalization means an unbalanced global economy. Economic crisis becomes the norm. Social stratification is growing, extreme poverty and unfathomable wealth are becoming exasperated. Excess breeds shortage, and the reverse. Societies that have experienced famine have a tendency toward oversatiety, they deal with their fear of shortage by creating artificial excess. Meanwhile, the consumer societies that suffer from this oversatiety seek solutions in strategies like reduction, re-using, selection, elimination, slow-life, minimalism, and conscious restriction of consumption.

Every second several dozen gigabytes of new data flood the Internet. The phenomenon of overproduction of information and services and the unlimited access to them makes us helpless in the face of the vast quantities we are unable to consume or process. Our problems become making decisions, focusing on something that really has significance. We are constantly faced with an excess of objects, and the pressure of the new never subsides – things with short shelf-lives are forever pushing aside those that are built to last. The issue of famine remains unsolved, yet tons of food end up in the garbage piles. Our world of start-ups and corporations has given rise to a sort of hysteria that manifests itself in intensified work on innovative solutions. We suffer of an excess of ideas, religions, books, and even scientific breakthroughs.

Designers take various approaches to the tyranny of excess: some just design more objects and services, others try to smuggle in concepts that urge us to reflect and change our behavior. How can designers deal with excess, given that they are a large part of the problem? The theories of design developed in the twentieth century ignored these issues. Design methodology was mainly focused on efficiency, functionality, and aesthetic quality. For this discussion we have invited designers and figures from the social sciences: philosophers, sociologists, anthropologists, and economists. We believe that the conference will create a space for a trans-disciplinary exchange of opinions.



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Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, 37/39 Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie Str. Warsaw

The conference FAIR DESIGN 2015 will take place in the auditorium of the recently erected Academy’s building at 37/39 Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie Str. It was built as an extension of the old edifice, designed by Alfons Gravier in 1911. The enlargement was executed by the renowned Warsaw studio JEMS Architects. On the premises are loctated the faculties of: Sculpture, Stage Design, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art, and Management of Visual Culture. Within easy reach there are also the Copernicus Science Centre and the Fryderyk Chopin Museum. Other buildings belonging to the Academy of Fine Arts are located in different parts of the city.


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Department of Design History and Theory
Faculty of Design, Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw

The Faculty of Design, Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, is one of the most important design schools in Poland, specializing in teaching product design, visual communication and fashion design. The subjects of study are diverse, and include applied art and design issues in modern and advanced technologies that are up to date or ahead of their time. The curriculum of the Faculty includes also research projects, focused on current problems of our civilization. All the hands-on design activities are assisted by the Dept. of Design History and Theory. Its mission is to educate on history, theory and criticism of design by organizing seminars, lectures, exhibitions, consultations and by conducting MFA theses. The Faculty of Design, Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, was ranked #13 in the Red Dot Design Ranking 2013: Universities in Americas and Europe.

Programme Board


prof. Bruce Brown, Royal College of Art in London (Great Britain)

Bruce Brown is Visiting Professor at the Royal College of Art in London. Previously he was Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of Brighton, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and Professor of Design. He was selected by the Funding Councils for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to chair the Main Panel responsible for Arts and Humanities in the UK Research Excellence Framework 2014. He recently has worked for organizations in Austria, Portugal, Hong Kong, and Israel and lectured widely on research in the arts. He is an editor of Design Issues Research Journal and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Dr. Magda Kochanowska / Design Faculty, Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, History and Theory of Design Department
A designer by education, she is also the author of numerous publications on design in specialist and popular magazines. She has been affiliated with the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw Faculty of Industrial Design since 2005, where she works as an assistant professor. She defended her PhD in 2010. For many years she was an editor for the 2+3D design quarterly. In 2011-12 she lectured at Universidad Europea de Madrid. She explores design theory, criticism, and methodologies. She has made Polish and international exhibition designs both in Poland and abroad. In 2014 she created Polish Job – an exhibition of Polish design for Design Week in Milan. She was the general curator for the Polish design presentation at the Second Design Biennial in Istanbul in 2014. In 2016 she made the exhibition of Polish design for the 21st Triennale di Milano.

Dr. Józef A. Mrozek / Design Faculty, Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, History and Theory of Design Department
He has worked for the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw since 1978; until 2004 in the Interdepartmental History and Theory of Art Chair, from 2005 to 2016 he was head of the History and Theory of Design Chair in the Faculty of Design. He has lectured at many foreign academies, chiefly in the USA and in Great Britain. In 1999-2003 he was editor-in-chief of Meble Plus magazine, and contributed to the 2+3D grafika plus produkt quarterly. He has written numerous publications on industrial design, applied arts, and architecture. He is a member of the Society of Art Historians and the Design History Society.

Prof. Michał Stefanowski / Design Faculty, Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Design Department
He is a designer of products, small architectural forms, packaging, information systems, and visual communication. He is presently part of the INNO+NPD design team. He has created or jointly created the designs for dozens of products, five information systems, and numerous graphic and image designs. He co-designed the Municipal Information System in Warsaw, information systems for the University of Warsaw Library and the Royal Castle in Warsaw, and the visual ID for the Polish National Bank. He has written articles on industrial design, curated exhibitions, and has been a juror at competitions. He is the Vice Chair of the SPFP (Industrial Designers’ Association), and a member of the BEDA (Bureau of European Design Association) board. He is a member of the Work Group for the Ministry of the Economy, 19 National Intelligence Specialization. He has been a consultant for the European Commission and the Head of the Faculty of Design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw.

Dr. Monika Murawska / Faculty of Media Arts and Stage Design, Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw
She graduated in philosophy and art history from the University of Warsaw, where she mainly explored film history. She studied at Université Paris X Nanterre and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. In 2008 she defended her PhD at the University of Warsaw on contemporary French phenomenology. She is a three-times French Government scholarship winner, secretary of the Przegląd Filozoficzno Literacki board of editors, and a member of the Polish Phenomenology Society. She translates from French. Her writings include Problem innego [The Problem of the Other, 2005] and Filozofowanie z zamkniętymi oczami [Philosophizing with Eyes Closed, 2011] as well as numerous articles on the phenomenology of art.

Dr. Katarzyna Kasia / Faculty of Visual Culture Management, Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw
She is a philosopher and a graduate of the University of Warsaw Faculty of Philosophy and Sociology, a scholarship recipient from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Her works include Rzemiosło formowania. Luigiego Pareysona estetyka formatywności [The Craft of Formation: Luigi Pareyson’s Aesthetic of Formativity] and translations of Italian philosophers (Pareyson, Vattimo etc.). She has published in Intertekst, Kultura Liberalna, and Sztuka i Filozofia. She is a member of the editorial board of Przegląd Filozoficzno Literacki. She works with Radio Poland, and is head of the Chair of Art History and Cultural Theory.


Strategic partner

CULTUREPL-poziom01 [Converted]

Institutional partner

About Fair Design


In 2015, the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts started to organize a series of conferences dedicated to the theory and criticism of design in terms of its functioning in the quickly changing social, cultural, economic and other circumstances. The conference is intended to serve as a forum for discussions which could stretch beyond the professional designer circles.

Such opinion exchange, ongoing in the world for quite some time now, is an opportunity for design theoreticians and practitioners to better understand the objectives, methods and strategy of designing both today, and in the nearest future. The notion of design is ever more often perceived in terms of a “design culture”, and for that reason the discussions have come to involve a whole range of specialists from other disciplines, such as philosophy, sociology, economics, or anthropology of culture. In Poland, however, such debate is still virtually non-existent, and the opinion exchange platform is limited to publications in academic and professional press, as well as popular weeklies or dailies. These texts are rarely exposed to a differing reflection or solid criticism, hence they do not provoke any genuine intellectual exchange, nor do they help shape a complex set of opinions on the state of the design today.

In light of the above, the series of FAIR DESIGN conferences, dedicated to design theory and criticism, could trigger a debate on defining or applying research tools for the description and analysis of the changes taking place in contemporary design. We hope that such meetings could help in the opinion exchange among theoreticians representing different disciplines and design practitioners. We expect the theoreticians to provide us with a description of the state of contemporary society from the viewpoint of the humanities and social sciences (including those dealing with design theory), while from the practitioners we expect to share with us their thoughts on their own experiences of designing in the unstable world of today. We invite to the conference both design professionals, as well as people representing the art world, philosophers, anthropologists, or economists. We would expect our guests to share with us their thoughts on the quickly changing relations in culture, politics, the society and – obviously – in design. The papers are delivered in Polish and English (with simultaneous interpretation).


Previous editions

The first FAIR DESIGN conference was devoted to different forms of activity observed in contemporary society.
More info >>> Fair Design 2015 | ACTIVITY


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