Disegno 2022/2

S/D: Sign and Design

Editors: Zsolt Gyenge, Olivér Horváth (Managing Editor), Szilvia Maróthy, Márton Szentpéteri, Péter Wunderlich (Project Manager). Founding Editor: Heni Fiáth

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Table of Contents


Márton Szentpéteri: Fabrica and Ratiocinatio. Introductory Notes on Design and Semiotics


Mary Angela Bock: Klaus Krippendorff (1932–2022)




Márton Szentpéteri: Fabrica and Ratiocinatio. Introductory Notes on Design and Semiotics

Disegno 2022/2, page range: 4–7. https://doi.org/10.21096/disegno_2022_2msz

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Mary Angela Bock: Klaus Krippendorff (1932–2022)

Disegno 2022/2, page range: 8–11. https://doi.org/10.21096/disegno_2022_2mab

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Mihai Nadin: Design, Semiotics, Anticipation

Disegno 2022/2, page range: 12–41. https://doi.org/10.21096/disegno_2022_2mn

From the Why semiotics? question to the specific aspects of the semiotic underpinning of design the journey is one of discovery. Indeed, design is discovery, i.e., it is anticipation-driven. Therefore, nothing qualifies as its foundation. Design as a process does not require secure preliminaries (theories) from which to set out. It does not require a “place to stand,” a necessary reference, from which to start the adventure. Design assumptions are by their nature questions guiding anticipatory action. They are circumstances of conf lict (the old, the current, the new), which semiotics registers very much like a seismograph. The “earthquake,” i.e., the creative design, is not the graph of the Earth shaking, but a new landscape. The interruptive character of design inquiry, i.e., its disruptive nature, is especially significant when subjected to the après-design analytic moment. This is when recursive definitions (of aesthetic nature, semiotic, economic, cultural, political, etc. significance) are used as a metric of design, creating the illusion that they can become some norm. Actually, design creates a context for meaningful interactions. Design’s self-motivating nature of inquiry escapes such exercises. The activity called design is constitutive of the new, not the celebration of the past. Therefore, we present not only what has so far been learned from a design informed by semiotics, but also what might better serve designers in the context of the rapid change we experience in our days.

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Salvatore Zingale: Semiosic Processes and Design Processes. Inventiveness, Dialogue, Narrativity, Translation

Disegno 2022/2, page range: 42–59. https://doi.org/10.21096/disegno_2022_2sz

Design semiotics could lead to two lines of research: the study of design products and the study of design processes. As much as the analysis of artifacts has significance, the survey about semiosic processes inside design processes is the one that defines the unique nature of semiotics in the design context. This investigation follows “the pragmatist route” to design semiotics, for two reasons: (1) because it understands design as an activity that leverages the concept of inventive abduction and can provide answers to cognitive challenges; (2) because the work of design is never to be conceived as concluded in the final result, but embedded in a f low of unlimited semiosis. I will focus on the concept of semiosis according to Peirce’s semiotics, understood as a process of production of sense. In this way, I will deal with the following four processes:

  1. Inventiveness, whose logical model refers to abduction, the process that enables exploration of the ways to possible meanings.
  2. Based on Bakhtin’s literary theory and Bohm’s epistemology, dialogicity, which will be considered as the social interaction model underpinning every social idea of design.
  3. Narrativity, understood as the general scheme that is implemented in a project, understood as a series of actions leading to the achievement of a goal, and as a process of transformation.
  4. Translation, considered not only as an interpretation process that takes place between different forms of expression, but especially as a transition from a problem or desire to an “interpretant artifact.”

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Edit Újvári: Stone Pipe and Metal Container: Design Semiotic Analysis of Sacral Objects

Disegno 2022/2, page range: 60–73. https://doi.org/10.21096/disegno_2022_2eu

Design or the designer’s activity is not only designing an object, but also a complex mode of socialcultural relations and environmental situations. This paper focuses on the semiotic analysis of two historical examples where László Moholy-Nagy’s views ([1946] 1971)—which I interpret as “form adjusting itself to society”—are perfectly applicable. One object included in the design semiotic analysis is a Lakota ceremonial pipe, and the other is a sacral object of European Medieval culture, the Sainte-Foy reliquary of Conques. In both cases, the analysis is centred around formal and functional elements and materials that are impregnated with meaning. I intend to explain how, as sign vehicles (signifiers), the shape, ornamental elements, and materials of sacral objects, represent meanings and content. How is the form of these objects related to their function?

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Janka Csernák: Templates of Agency: Objects of a Social Design Program for Disadvantaged Girls

Disegno 2022/2, page range: 74–93. https://doi.org/10.21096/disegno_2022_2jcs

Compared to the aesthetic-and market-oriented mindset associated with mainstream design approaches, social design is traditionally considered to be a field that focuses more strongly on the human perspective and community-specific insight (Kimbell 2011; Manzini 2015). It is also a field that pays particular attention to the cultural and anthropological specificities of communities and takes these specificities into account throughout its processes of research and design. This paper presents a social design project, FRUSKA, and examines it from a semiotic and educational point of view. FRUSKA is a design program for disadvantaged girls aged 10–18, aiming at skill building, raising self-awareness and building agency, in order to advance the participants’ life prospects. In an attempt to understand the community better, several objects were designed by the author and her students, based on preliminary research and inquiries conducted with the target group. Building on the premises of social semiotics (Hodge and Kress 1988; van Leeuwen 2005), these objects were specifically designed for the participants to build and customise during co-creation workshops: the participants could disassemble and personalise these objects in a way that is closer to their own aesthetics, filling them up with meaning as a means to practice agency. The design process, its application during workshops and the feedback from participants are analysed through the lens of intersectional theory (Crenshaw 1989), in order to understand the effects of differences in class, age, ethnicity and identity. The author concludes by discussing whether design can be meaningfully used as a language through co-creation.

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Erzsébet Hosszu: Everyday Objects in Trauma Therapy: Examining the Material Culture of Young Refugees with the Aim of Trauma Processing

Disegno 2022/2, page range: 94–113. https://doi.org/10.21096/disegno_2022_2eh

Objects help us to integrate, socialise, learn, and mirror our past and self. They also represent our home, as we can take them with us when moving. What happens to our objects when this move is accompanied by the trauma of forced migration? The aim of this paper is to understand the significance of the object, the smallest physical unit of the home, in the recovery processes of trauma caused by forced migration. In parallel with a literature review, this research relies on in-depth interviews and the author’s ten years of field experience in refugee communities in Hungary, Switzerland, Belgium and Palestine. The literature review explores the importance of objects in the context of migration, highlighting the roles of them in the process of socialising with others, learning new skills, developing our own self, transforming our home and surviving a challenge. According to the literature, objects can create a safe and well known environment, they can materialise the past and culture, therefore they can help to recall memories and they can also have a significant role in reconnecting us to life, since they integrate us into new communities. According to the interviews, the coping strategies have more to do with activity and social connections and less with everyday objects due to the trauma of forced migration. Taking advantage of the general nature of objects, the coping mechanism of forced migrants and loose object attachment, objects can become a neutral tool of trauma therapy. From the results, a design therapy toolkit will be created for professionals, educators and therapists, which can support processing trauma by developing place and object attachment.

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Joana Meroz: Beyond Biontology? Bringing Elizabeth A. Povinelli’s Geontologies to Life-Centred Design

Disegno 2022/2, page range: 114–131. https://doi.org/10.21096/disegno_2022_2jm

The concept of “design for life” has been rapidly picking up steam in the last few years. While the discourse around life-centred design leaves the concept of “life” unproblematised, it uses this term to signify an expansion of the sites and stakeholders of design beyond the human. I therefore define life-centred design as mobilising more-than-human approaches with the explicit aim of intervening in (the debate about) what planetary life is and should become. What purposes might life-centred design fulfil by differentiating between life/nonlife and favouring only the former? This article explores how Elizabeth A. Povinelli’s magisterial Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism (2016) can contribute to thinking through the ethical implications of life-centred design. I start by discussing three of Geontologies’ key concepts: the carbon imaginary, geontopower, and geontology. I then brief ly experiment with activating those concepts to think about how three life-centred design practices configure life/nonlife and how those configurations might be involved in tactics of control. I then discuss how life-centred design tends to reproduce a modern Western belief in biontology (the equivalence of life with being) and as such risks teproducing (neo-)colonial practices of control. In conclusion, I both consider some of the ethical implications of life-centred design and speculate on those of a hypothetical post-biontological life-centred design.

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Aditya Nambissan: + or –. A Process-Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) in Design Education Using Semiotics as a Tool

Disegno 2022/2, page range: 132–147. https://doi.org/10.21096/disegno_2022_2an

This article takes its name from a semester 6 architectural design studio developed using semiotics as an approach to develop a design methodology / design thinking process. This involves exploring different interpretations of the symbols + and −, and their various applications to the field of architecture and design. We try to analyse, trace the course of problems/issues, and interpret ideas of subtractive processes (inf luenced by economic, cultural, and technological changes) involved in extracting resources from mother earth; and thereafter, the impacts of additive processes in the act of building and constructing. With the design project situated in the rich timber industrial heritage of the North Malabar region of Calicut, Kerala (India), this material is a crucial element associated with memories. The absorption of the relational aspects of timber in this region’s cultural semiotics has led to interesting shifting in the built and unbuilt environments over the years. This has become the core inquiry of students’ engagement in decoding signs and symbols through the mediums of photography, diagramming, and hybrid representation. These in turn inform them how to intervene using design and create an architectural project based on these findings.

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Maressa Park: Designing the Dream Ballet: From Oklahoma!’s Third Auteur to Fish’s Revival and Beyond

Disegno 2022/2, page range: 148–159. https://doi.org/10.21096/disegno_2022_2mp

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s epoch-defining, twice-Pulitzer Prize-winning Oklahoma! is wellknown for its integrated non-musical elements, which seamlessly create multimedia cohesion. The most iconic element of this integrated musical is Agnes de Mille’s “Dream Ballet”, a showstopping choreography and “microcosm” of the show’s plot and the paragon of its namesake genre. The Dream Ballet has undergone a striking evolution in the 2019 Oklahoma! revival at the Circle in the Square Theatre, noted for its subversion of the genre’s expectations. Although choreographer John Heginbotham and director Daniel Fish changed several aspects—including choreography, staging choices, audience immersion, and musical alterations—their refashioning of the Dream Ballet ushered in a new perspective and effect that is vital to the revival’s meaning and success at large. This paper examines the ways in which the two Dream Ballets design themselves around and challenge their respective political environments. Whereas de Mille removes and confine’s Oklahoma!’ s unmistakable original horror material, Heginbotham’s Dream Ballet capitalises on the immersion of the audience in a staging of communal sacrifice that plays upon its juxtaposition of community and belonging with community and culpability. Finally, this paper will examine the possibility of using virtual reality to emulate the specific affordances of the 2019 staging.

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Julianna Bodó and Zoltán Biró A.: Ágnes Kapitány and Gábor Kapitány: A szimbolizáció. Hogyan cselekszünk szimbólumokkal?

Disegno 2022/2, page range: 160–163. https://doi.org/10.21096/disegno_2022_2jbzba

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About the Authors

Disegno 2022/2, page range: 164–167.

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