Draw a filled circle in the centre of paper. Improve the circle’s round shape by enlarging it’s borders. Stop when the circle is perfect. Or do this: Blindfold yourself. Cover the entire surface of the paper with 1 color. Stop when you think the entire paper is filled.
These were excerpts from Conditional Design workbook. As proclaimed by it’s creators "Design method formulated by the graphic designers Luna Maurer, Jonathan Puckey, Roel Wouters and the artist Edo Paulus which foregrounds process over finished products. As a design strategy, it is defined by playfully designed sets of rules and conditions that stimulate collaboration between participants and lead to unpredictable outcomes.”
Besides Workbook, as a practical application as well as tool for practising, conditional design was also formulated as a manifesto. There is a vast collection of manifestos throughout the history and this form is still very present. From the past years, I will mention Critical engineering and Additivism manifestos. This form mutated over time, it can be anything, ranging from a video, installation, but it’s fundamental core remains the same - concentrated and furious energy to do something and do it differently. Manifestations are mostly also motivated by urge to react and adequatly respond to a world that changed and is changing.
Conditional design is not an exception. As stated in the manifesto “We live in a dynamic, data-driven society that is continually sparking new forms of human interaction and social contexts. Instead of romanticizing the past, we want to adapt our way of working to coincide with these developments, and we want our work to reflect the here and now.” Conditonal design focuses on process and process is also it’s main output. Its takes form of a game, with strictly defined rules.
Conditional design's exercises underline the importance of a process in any creative practice and emphasise its main components - time, relationship and change. This philosophy exceeds the traditional look on the discipline.
What i find most important about conditionally focused design is cooperation. Its not only embedded in the very way these 4 artists work, its also an public invitation for anyone to become conditional designer. During the presentation of their book for instance, people who bought it were instructed to participate in collective drawing.
I percieve Conditional design as a bootcamp which develops and highlights skills which traditionaleducation tends to overlook. Living in a digital world requires new set of abilities and literacies. The ability to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem-solving or simply to play is very crucial. Being able to approach design playfully can be helpful in all fields, whether you are designing a chair, website or a software. It will also spare you and the people who view your work from being bored.
author of the text: Šimon Chovan