Radical Design

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This movement emerged in Italy in the 1960s and, like its close counterpart Anti‐Design, was firmly opposed to the tenets of ‘Good Design’ and style as marketing tools divorced from the social and cultural possibilities inherent in the design process. Centred around avant‐garde design groups such as Archizoom, Superstudio, Global Tools, and 9999, the movement expressed its ideas through the publication of manifestos, reviews, and articles, participation in national and international competitions and exhibitions, expository films, research, and teaching. Although ideologically aligned to the broader aims of Anti‐Design, those associated with Radical Design were more politically motivated, devoting considerable energy to research into urban architecture, innovation, and the environment. Strongly opposed to the constraints of capitalism, the role of the consumer‐user was central to their thinking and reflected their attraction to sociocultural possibilities such as those proposed by alternative lifestyle models like those of the Beat poets and subsequent hippy movement. Many aspects of the Radical Design agenda were displayed at the 1968 Venice Biennale and subsequently at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in its Italy: The New Domestic Landscape exhibition of 1972, supported by the accompanying publication edited by Emilio Ambasz, the show's curator. Rather like those of the Italian Futurists 60 years earlier, the ideas of the Radical Designers remained largely in the form of paper projects and printed manifestos rather than fully realized designs, buildings, and environments. Nonetheless, like Futurism before it, Radical Design exerted a significant influence on subsequent avant‐garde design activity and outlook.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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