Volume 37 Full PDF (2015)


With the arrival of the digital age and a culture dedicated to speed and efficiency, much of contemporary design has lost an old motivation: to create artifacts or experiences of permanence. Not even incredible breakthroughs remain for very long before they become the undiscussed norm or are replaced with new successes and new advances. Often it falls upon the shoulders of the designer to keep up with the perpetual flow of invention and reinvention, today more active and integrated into the flesh of society than ever. The river of progress is merciless and inevitable, and it’s only getting faster: but what does that mean, and how do we address it as consumers and creators?

One of the hallmarks of this fast-paced environment is the concept of immutable impermanence: a strict recognition of the fact that not everything will last, and that not everything should last. Impermanence is far from a new idea, but its importance and prevalence in design culture has very rapidly grown. The speed at which technology has developed over the past twenty years has influenced how we view, consume, and even think about art, design, and technology itself. Social media outlets, blogs and other online platforms allow anyone to present ideas and work to an audience never before possible. This incredible versatility and accessibility also means that these platforms shift with great frequency as they change to accommodate their users and the technologies around them. Obsolescence is a perpetual concern when creating work in an evolving environment that simply doesn’t stay put.Now, perhaps more than before, designers working in and around this ever-shifting condition must consider the unique, unavoidable impression it leaves on those around it. By the same token, this concept of impermanence in our everyday interactions—with objects and with each other—begs real questions about the potential value, obstacles and effects that this new normal presents for design, technology and culture.

In Volume 37 of The Student Publication, we intend to create an open dialogue between professionals, students, and academics on the impact of impermanence as it relates to design, art, culture, and our interaction with objects. No matter the discipline, working through the lens of the temporary creates a compelling urgency to be bold.  What might this boldness look like?

Some questions we will consider are:

  • Can the transient and the permanent exist together?
  • How has ubiquitous technology impacted the expectation or desire of the temporary for users  and consumers?
  • To what extent do impermanence and irrelevance overlap?
  • How does the idea of impermanence shape the way that artists and designers approach their work?
  • Where does control lie when the ‘lens of the temporary’ is guiding the design process?