Lecture: Civic, Critical, and State Crafts

PhD, Prof. Otto von Busch

Lecture by Dr. Otto von Busch: "Civic, Critical, and State Crafts"

Dr. Otto von Busch is Associate Professor in Integrated Design at Parsons School of Design, United States. He has a background in arts, craft, design and theory and many of his projects explore how design can mobilize community capabilities through collaborative craft and social activism in the support of social sustainability, peace, and justice.


Craft mobilizes manual capabilities and material capacities that can used politically to challenge the boundaries and “apparatus” of the state. Thus DIY culture and craft has the potential to not only touch and manipulate the power of objects and political matter, but also to “take power.” That is, such practices bring politics into proximity to the user, allowing them to "touch power" as they challenge legal and political boundaries and distributions of agency. This is where the agency of craft and design crashes into the order upheld by the state. Examples of capabilities and practices realized in illegal DIY crafts, such as moonshining, lock-picking and hacking, to the more explicitly political use of craft, such as in Gandhi’s strategic use of DIY-salt production in the 1930 Salt March, until today’s legal and ethical discussions about the “Liberator” 3D printed pistol by Defense Distributed.

As a part of the Critical Design Practices course, Department of Design is hosting this public lecture.


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