Microreview: Dialectic Diatribes on the New European Bauhaus / A ‘Grassroots’ European Union? (3/3)

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"The New European Bauhaus is a creative and interdisciplinary movement in the making, and you can be part of it!", image from the New European Bauhaus project website, https://europa.eu/new-european-bauhaus/
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2021 June
(Statler & Waldorf for) Anke Gruendel and Jamie Allen review the New European Bauhaus project in 3 parts
Author / Publisher
Anke Gruendel and Jamie Allen for NewsLibrary
Author Info

Anke Gruendel holds a PhD in Politics from the New School for Social Research and currently is a research associate at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Her current research investigates new forms of political rationality in public sector design that inform how theories of democracy and the political continue to be enacted and transformed in modern technical democracies.

Jamie Allen is occupied with the ways that technologies teach us about who we are as individuals, cultures and societies. His work has been exhibited internationally, from the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin to the American Museum of Natural History in New York to the Nam June Paik Art Center in Korea. He teaches, lectures and leads workshops widely, engaging with and working to create collaborative contexts that acknowledge how care, attachment and love are central to knowledge practices like art and research. http://jamieallen.com/



Also published here

Newsletter No. 35

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Reviewed Publication

New European Bauhaus

Part 3: A ‘Grassroots’ European Union?

W: The New European Bauhaus is not just participatory. Looks like there are specific, invited partners, experts and people already involved.

S: That’s about as inclusive as the EU’s ever going to get. And anyway, don’t we still need experts for complicated problems like climate change? We can’t just rely on regular schmucks like you and me designing the New European Bauhaus, let alone the New Europe.

W: I definitely don’t want you designing Europe!

S: Perhaps a bit of context for the tradition of participatory design in Europe. Participatory design began in Scandinavian labor planning in the scope of what they called ‘workplace democracy.’[1] While there weren’t any significant social or cultural differences among the mostly white male workers, these designers and planners did have to deal with a complicated set of goals among labor unions that diverged sharply from the goals of business executives.[2] And keep in mind that casting ‘regular people’ as experts of their own lives also significantly transforms the idea of expertise.[3] This tradition is certainly in the background of the NEB’s idea of ‘grassroots’ design.

W: Are you lecturing me, professor? Why don’t you tell me how something as technocratic as the European Commission can do anything ‘grassroots’?

S: Patience, Waldorf. That’s what we’re all about to find out. Think outside the box!

W: We’re not in a box.

S: Certainly looks that way to me...

W: It is a Zoom call!

W: (maniacal laughter) Waaaahahahahahah!

S: (maniacal laughter) AAhhhh Hahahah Ha

[1] Gregory, J. (2003). Scandinavian approaches to participatory design. International Journal of Engineering Education, 19(1), 62-74.

[2] Sandberg, Å. Computer Dividing Man and Work. Malmö: Arbetslivscentrum, 1979.

[3] Sanders, E. B. N., & Stappers, P. J. (2008). Co-creation and the new landscapes of design. Co-design, 4(1), 5-18.