I can't talk to you if you say that: An ideological collision at the International Design Conference at Aspen, 1970

Author: Twemlow, Alice

Source: Design and Culture, 1 March 2009, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 23-49(27)

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Abstract:

The 1970 edition of the International Design Conference at Aspen was the occasion for an ideological collision between a youthful, environmentally focused subset of attendees, and members of the design elite who organized the conference. The design students and environmental activists who executed the protests created disturbances throughout the six-day event and then, in the conference's summary session, read aloud and forced the conference to vote on a series of resolutions intended to improve the conference's, and the design profession's, engagement with social, political and specifically environmental issues. The fact that the multi-pronged internal critique leveled by these disparate groups led to a recalibration of the Aspen design conference's content and structure – not just in 1971, which was the most emphatic embodiment of change, but also in subsequent conferences at least throughout the 1970s – makes this conference an interesting case study of a disruption to, and a paradigm shift in, established design practice and discourse.
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