Dunne & Raby in dialog with Alex McDowell

29. September 2014


As places where design is debated now and will be debated in the future, what is the duty and purpose of museums of applied arts? Which themes are relevant to everyday life? Which objects should be collected? And in what way and for what purpose?

The MAK posed these questions to nine globally renowned design pioneers. They participated in an experiment to investigate the significance of a collection of exemplary objects as a source of inspiration. In the process, each pioneer could have discussions with a person of his or her choosing—so-called “muses”—in the course of which they would shed light on the future of the applied arts, as well as share their perspectives on museums of applied arts. The result was a stimulating dialogue, which looks not only at the past but also tries to imagine the future!

As pioneers of “critical design”, Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby feel that design is not keeping pace with social developments, above all as regards the impact of new technologies on our everyday lives. They met up with British production designer Alex McDowell (Minority Report, etc.) to discuss the impact of science fiction and social fiction on our everyday culture.

Professor of industrial design at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, Fiona Raby, and Tony Dunne, who together founded the faculty of Design Interaction at the Royal College of Art in London, pursue a speculative design approach in their work. For our exhibition, Dunne & Raby intentionally chose text passages and not objects as their examples: They describe products or services taken from science fiction or social fiction authors such as Margaret Atwood and Kazuo Ishiguro. The pure text form as “exhibit” leaves room for interpretation and challenges our powers of imagination.