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DESIGN PROVOCATIONS: Industrial Design Lecture Series - Spring 2022


The rise of the Generalist

23 Feb 2022
By Elena Manferdini

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Is being generalist the best path forward for creative practices?

As designers today aim at pursuing a multidisciplinary or a multi-scale production, being generalists may help them taking over broader cultural territories. 


Elena Manferdini is the principal and owner of Atelier Manferdini in Los Angeles and Graduate Programs Chair at SCI-Arc.

With a body of work that spans public art, architecture, and industrial design, her eponymous Atelier has created work on over three continents that uplifts the human spirit. Her design is known for its vibrant colors, meaningful narratives, and its high attention to novel materials and craft.

Design as Critical Worldmaking

2 Mar 2022
By Tim Parsons & Jessica Charlesworth

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By adopting literary and philosophical ideas, designers can extend their remit to create worlds that act as discursive tools for engaging social topics. In Design as Critical Worldmaking, Jessica Charlesworth & Tim Parsons explain this approach using examples from their studio Parsons & Charlesworth, including Catalog for the Post-Human, an installation at last year’s Venice Architecture Biennale.

Parsons & Charlesworth are collaborative artists focusing on the objects and habits of humankind. Their inventive sculptural practice relies upon creating objects that allow us to examine our future selves and perhaps navigate better. Utilizing sculpture, objects, narrative writing and photography, their work addresses key social, ecological and technological challenges of our time, including climate change and the future of work.

Crossing Borders: Design for Global Scale

9 March 2022
By Eduardo Martres

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Some of the largest Design Centres in the world belong to companies in the Home Appliances and Consumer Electronics industries. In particular, Chinese corporations have recently been successfully moving from OEM/ODM to developing and marketing their own brands on a global scale, and consequently, their Design Centres have been growing steadily. In addition, most foreign enterprises in these industries have built Design Centres in the Mainland. This presentation will introduce and discuss a selection of the industrial design work performed by Eduardo Martres and his teams during his over 18 years of design career with Philips, HP, Panasonic, and Changhong in Europe, the US, and China.

Eduardo Martres is the former Chief Industrial Designer for Changhong, in 2015 was awarded the People’s Republic of China Friendship Award, the highest recognition given by the Chinese government to foreign experts who have made major contributions to the economic and social development of China. Previously, Senior Design Manager at the Panasonic Design Centre of America in New York City, Design Team Leader at HP in Colorado (USA), and Senior Designer at Philips in the Netherlands, France, and Hong Kong. Master in Industrial Design from the University of Essen (Germany), and MBA from the University of Chicago (USA).

Doing a PhD in Design: research, events, networking

16 March 2022
By Mariia Zolotova

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Mariia obtained MA in Graphic Design at St Petersburg University (SPbU), she worked as a graphic designer in advertisement and branding. She moved to Italy, where she obtained a PhD in Product Design at the Sapienza University of Rome. Today, she is a lecturer of Industrial Design at XJTLU and collaborates with SPbU and ITMO Universities of St Petersburg. She keeps her interest in the academy and how design can be part of it.

The lecture will share a personal experience of the multi-faceted nature of an academic design career — research, international experiences, conferences, encounters that lead to new establishments. We will talk about the intrinsic ability of design to synthesize, include and conceptualize that makes it a driver for growth and collaboration. The lecture will be useful for those who are interested in applying for a PhD.

BioEconomics: Sustainable futures

23 Mar 2022
By Shihan Zhang

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Shihan Zhang is an award-winning design futurist whose passion lies in challenging cultural stereotypes and social preconceptions. Her work focusses on expanding the capabilities of technology and in extrapolating world conditions to address Anthropocene challenges. Her projects have gained significant recognition by a range of bodies such as Fast Company World Changing Ideas, International Design Excellence Awards, Core77 Design Awards, 100 Design of the Year (Asian), and others.

Her work poses questions such as: ‘How can we transform our current carbon systems using algae and new regenerative bio-economic systems?’; ‘How can your skin DNA become your own personal data storage system?’; ‘How will we breathe clean air in the future?’. She says, “I believe design interventions work as stimuli to provoke discussion for unseen issues and opportunities. My projects bring inspiration and motivation to drive better decisions and nudge-changes collectively, to make significant impacts in larger systems”.

How to look at the world with different eyes

30 March 2022
By Vicente Esteban (Vinny Montag)

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Can you remember how you perceive the world when you were little? This talk aims to help you find new ways to look at the world and the objects around us with new eyes and be able to find new meanings to our everyday.


Artist, Designer and Educator. Born in Cadiz (Spain), where he studied mechanics and later art, Vinny move to London to achieve his Bachelor of Arts in Multidisciplinary Design at Goldsmiths University and later a Master of Arts in Information Experience Design at the Royal College of Art. He has been teaching for several years at the Design Department at Goldsmiths University, and also at the London College of Fashion. Currently he is Associate Professor in the Industrial Design Department at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in Suzhou (China).


13 Apr 2022
By Martí Guixé

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Martí Guixé is a Spanish designer living in Barcelona and Berlin. He graduated in interior design from Elisava in Barcelona in 1985 and enrolled in an industrial design study program at Scuola Politecnica di Design di Milano in 1986. In 2001, as a statement against the limited scope of the traditional designer and to open new possibilities for the industry Guixé started an ex-designer movement, defining himself by the same name.


The presentation is based on relevant topics on the work of Martí Guixé. Edible objects: can be designed with parameters such as ergonomics, functionality, and usability. Performance: presenting design objects means exhibiting the object. It is not about the picture of it. Interaction: objects communicate; the interaction is one of the characteristics of today's interfaces, as part of a kind of collaborative action between object and subject. Instruction: most of the designed objects are from a new typology and need a new ritual and instruction on using it. New typology: objects that create new perceptions of the real. Business models: these models perform a holistic vision of the project, the object, the interior of the surrounding, the ritual and the conceptual context. Recent: recent projects referred to exhibits and experimental contexts.of the book collection Unevaluated Essays, Corraini Edizioni.

Interactive Virtual Reality System for Rehabilitation

20 Apr 2022

By Dr Mengjie Huang


Recent advancements in virtual reality technology have increased interest in this technology in rehabilitation. The lecture will share the research on the development of virtual reality-based interactive systems for motor rehabilitation and discuss the user experience in those interactive systems from a human-computer interaction perspective.

Dr Mengjie Huang received her PhD degree from the National University of Singapore in 2014 and her B.Eng degree from Sichuan University in 2009. She worked as an R&D engineer in the industry and a lecturer at the China University of Petroleum. She joined XJTLU in 2019 and is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Industrial Design. Her research interests lie in the area of human-computer interaction & design, with a special focus on human factors, user information processing, and human-computer systems.

Poking the Future: How to provoke other thoughts and your own imagination

27 Apr 2022

By Bernd Hopfengärtner
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Futures are statistically modelled and predicted in science, advertised in business or claimed and announced in politics. But however fancy the tools, seductive the visuals or convincing the rhetorics, our ideas about futures are formed by the questions we ask about them. If the questions are predictable, because they are guided by the same interests, fed with the same data, or utilised to forward the same agendas, the futures they produce get old and boring. They need to be poked and provoked to trigger thought and imagination, because ultimately the questions are the question.

New Ways of Production

4 May 2022

By Martijn Rigters 


Martijn Rigters, Director of the MDes in Industrial Design at XJTLU is a Dutch designer, practice-based researcher and design educator based in Suzhou, China.

A graduate of the Royal College of Art, London, Rigters has been working within his professional practice for over 10 years and has collaborated with numerous international institutions companies, galleries and communities. Currently Rigters is Programme Director of the MDes Industrial Design programme at XJTLU, Suzhou. 

Rigters’ strong practice-based research pushes the boundaries of topics like future manufacturing, material development, sustainability, urban mining and social engagement.

In 2018 Rigters co-founded, together with Namuun Zimmermann, the contemporary design office Studio Sain, focussing on both experimental object design, as well as developing socially engaged educational programs for diverse institutions. Their projects, with a strong collaborative character, move across scale and discipline, ranging from object design, furniture, installations to educational workshops.

A LABOUR OF LOVE: new design, materials & textiles

11 May 2022

By Philip Fimmano

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Philip Fimmano is a trend analyst, design curator and writer, contributing to Trend Union’s forecasting tools. He is also the co-founder of the World Hope Forum, a mentor of Polimoda's forecasting and textile masters, and a board member for the International Folk Art Market and all of Gap Inc.’s brands.

Philip is at the forefront of these new makers in contemporary design. Their challenge is to seek the future of responsible production, circular thinking, ethical practice and organic aesthetics, and to shape materials and processes. Ultimately, their conscious philosophies will change our world and guide us towards a better tomorrow. 

Socially Engaged Design

18 May 2022

By Namuun Zimmermann


Namuun has a multidisciplinary background in design, originally trained as an Industrial Designer and a master’s degree from the Design Products Department at the Royal College of Art in London. Her practice-based research and professional experiences bridge critical design, social-engaged and participatory design, product design and new materials advancing communities and users. Through her professional experience, her teaching approach has been concentrated towards a future-oriented and critical design ethos, focusing on providing students tools that adapt to the ever-changing environment of the design profession.

Projects, collaborations and conversations in design

25 May 2022

By Luca Nichetto

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Expressive Murano glasswork vases, lamps, chairs, coffee services, rugs, handbags, sunglasses: the list of works of Nichetto Studio shows us, without doubt, the multidisciplinary that design can - and maybe should - have. Luca Nichetto will talk about the history of the Studio, from the only one in Venice to the very new one in Stockholm, underlining the importance of collaboration between designer, supplier, maker and user and stressing the aim - or one of the aims - of design of offer anyone, anywhere, a moment of levity.


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