Jesko Fezer: Controversial Methods (GER)

In the 1950s, the Design Methods Movement emerged with a design principle that resulted in works celebrating scientific progress. However, this movement soon proved to be so unpopular that even its founders distanced themselves from it. Persistent disputes about the way in which design ought to be carried out revealed the political dimension of design and the need for a high level of participation. The design methodology problematised itself and questioned the role of designers as neutral experts in favour of a more open and intensified relationship with the social reality – a central demand that turned out to be thoroughly destructive towards the end of the movement.

In his lecture, Jesko Fezer traces the conflicts surrounding the justifiability of design from HfG Ulm, Horst Rittel and Christopher Alexander to the Design Methods Movement and the architects involved there, such as John Habraken, S.A.R, Yona Friedman and the Architecture Machine Group. There, as well as in the subsequent German-language discourse on design patterns around 1968, which was characterised by Jürgen Joedicke and the newly founded Arch+, and in the barely researched field of methodologically motivated advocacy planning – from the Architects’ Renewal Committee Harlem and Urban Planning Aid Boston to the Portuguese SAAL – it is possible to reconstruct a repressed, committed and (self-)critical design practice. Based on the architectural discourses of scientification, politicization and co-determination of the 1960s, new possibilities for a socially emancipated and thus partisan design are discussed.

Jesko Fezer is a designer. Working in various collaborations, he deals with the social relevance of design practice. He collaborates with ifau on architectural projects, is co-founder of the bookshop Pro qm in Berlin and part of the exhibition design studio Kooperative für Darstellungspolitik. He co-edits Bauwelt Fundamente and the Studienhefte für problemorientiertes Design. He is Professor of Experimental Design at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Hamburg and has been running the Public Design Support St. Pauli with students since 2011. His most recent publication is: Jesko Fezer: Umstrittene Methoden. Architekturdiskurse der Verwissenschaftlichung, Politisierung und Mitbestimmung in den 1960er Jahren, Adocs, Hamburg 2022.