The designer, author and design activist Victor J. Papanek anticipated an understanding of design as a tool for political change and social good that is more relevant today than ever. He was one of the first designers in the mainstream arena to critically question design's social and ecological consequences, introducing a new set of ethical questions into the design field.
Victor Papanek: The Politics of Design presents an encompassing overview of Papanek's oeuvre, at the heart of which stood his preoccupation with the socially marginalized and his commitment to the interests of areas then called the Third World, as well as his involvement in the fields of ecology, bionics, sustainability and anti-consumerism. Alongside essays and interviews discussing Papanek's relevance in his own era, this book also presents current perspectives on his enduring legacy and its influence on contemporary design theory. Original Papanek family photographs, art and design work, drawings, correspondence and countless materials from the Victor J. Papanek Foundation archive at the University of Applied Arts Vienna are reproduced here for the first time, alongside work by both Papanek's contemporaries and designers working today.
Born in Vienna and trained in England and the United States, Victor Papanek (1923–98) is considered a pioneer of sustainable and humanitarian design. Having studied architecture at Cooper Union in New York, and creative engineering at MIT, Papanek taught at the Ontario College of Art, RISD, Purdue University and the California Institute of the Arts, and was Chairman of the Design Department at Kansas City Art Institute from 1976 to 1981, and Professor of Architecture and Design at the University of Kansas. He died in Lawrence, Kansas, aged 74.