PRESS RELEASE: Fashion design as a space for critical reflection
Critical thinking is a watchword within all academic education. But what does it mean at a design college, where the focus is on the design activity? As the third project within the context of artistic research at Beckmans College of Design Stockholm, a digital anthology is launched, exploring links between theory and practice in higher fashion education against the backdrop of an international discussion on critical fashion practice.
“Being a theory teacher at a design college, the intersection of theory and practice naturally takes centre stage in my teaching. I sense that the reflective and critical aspects of fashion design have been curiously underrepresented within academic fashion studies, where the designer plays a cardinal role but seldom has a voice, but also within the fashion industry, where the designer’s role historically has been defined from economic and consumerist considerations,” says Maria Ben Saad who conducted the project in her capacity of lecturer in theoretical fashion subjects and director of Artistic and Contextual Studies at Beckmans College of Design.
Essays, conversations and visual commentary
The anthology Critical Fashion: Reflections in Theory and Practice consists of personal essays and conversations as well as visual work. The majority of the contributors have a history with Beckmans as alumni, members of staff or guest teachers, and many are also linked to other design colleges and institutions both in Sweden and abroad.
“I wanted to discuss fashion design as a space for critical reflection and what it might imply for both theory and practice. In my research, I have built on the concept of critical fashion practice, which has gained ground within academia in recent years. But I also wanted to show how critical thinking finds expression in the fashion practice, through examples from mainly former Beckmans’ students,” Maria Ben Saad explains.
In parallel with different takes on the subject in written text, visual applications are therefore showcased, based on non-conforming gender expressions primarily identified in students’ graduation projects.
In order to include as many as possible in the discussion, the project will be accessible on-line as a series of bi-weekly releases from 23 October 2020 at www.criticalfashionproject.org.
The publication is developed by Peter Ström and Mattias Jakobsson at the graphic design studio Konst & Teknik. Peter Ström is also a lecturer in visual communications with a focus on digital media at Beckmans.
Contributors and publication dates
Maria Ben Saad 201023 (introduction)
Adam Geczy & Vicki Karaminas 201027
Ada Swärd 201030
Ann-Sofie Back & Göran Sundberg 201103
Matilda Ivarsson 201106
Andreas Nobel 201110
Alexander Krantz 201113
Mathilda Tham 201117
Emil Balesic 201120
Peter Jakobsson 201124
Alecsander Rothschild 201127
Marco Pecorari 201201
Josef Forselius 201204
Caroline Evans & Susanna Strömquist 201208
Artistic research at Beckmans College of Design Stockholm
In 2017, Beckmans College of Design initiated an investment in artistic research. To this date, four different research projects have been realised, all of them connected to our educations in product design, fashion and visual communications. The projects will be presented in different formats during 2020 while new research projects will be launched.
About Beckmans College of Design Stockholm
Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm offers three BA courses (180 points): Visual Communication, Fashion and Design. The college is in constant development. New knowledge and new perspectives on humanism, diversity, equality and sustainability permeate the courses which are based on an artistic foundation. Beckmans College of Design is a venue devoted to promoting the knowledge that is associated with praxis-based design on an artistic foundation by practice, research and questioning. Curiosity, empathy and aesthetics are combined by means of focused teaching and collaboration.
Design is all around us and creates essential conditions for both cultural and economic developments. Teaching in the design field therefore has a very important place in today’s society in which visual and material culture are consumed and need to be challenged and questioned.