A workshop at The Participatory Design Conference (PDC) in Aarhus 2016, August 15.

In Swedish the word “ting” has different meanings. It can mean “things”, “matters” and “a session at court” as well as the act of appropriating space. This one-day workshop starts in the notion of the artifact as a “ting”, and design as something that raises a question, provokes a discussion, and creates a public through which agonistic encounters occur. This particular lens allows us to approach design beyond ‘merely producing artifacts’. Instead, we come to see it as a production of provocations, speculations, and alternative interpretations of the social world as well as new sets of relationships between participants in this public.

Because of the importance of the role and embodiment of the designer/artist in making publics, this workshop calls attention to self-reflective practices in PD [1], and questions how these practices can be embedded in the functionality of new publics and design practices. More specifically, the workshop aims to explore the following questions: How does the designer/artist create and maintain publics? How do we accommodate differences in these agonistic spaces? What is the role of the designer/artist in these contexts? How can we understand the tension between artistic control in speculative design and empowerment in participatory design?