“Reduced budgets demand ‘more for less’”

Prof. Alex Milton, Conference chair of Cumulus Dublin 2013 and Head of Design at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin

Why did you choose "More for Less - Design in an Age of Austerity" as conference theme for your upcoming Cumulus Conference 2013?
We propose that in the deepest recession since the great depression of the 1930s we need to turn the modernist mantra ‘less is more’ on its head as the reduced budgets of governments, business and people demand ‘more for less’, and develop a ‘New Deal’ for design.

This international conference is intended to act as platform for sharing ideas and concepts about contemporary design research in this age of austerity. Contributors were invited to submit research that addresses contemporary approaches to design research, with the conference committee and review panel welcoming research through, for and into design.

One of your key questions in Dublin is: How can we use design to create places and spaces for renewal and growth? Do you have an answer?
Vibrant economies are built on innovation, but with this comes an ethical responsibility that Design, the engine of the previous decades, unsustainable consumerism and excess needs to address. This conference hopes to stimulate discussion on how design researchers, practitioners and educators can respond to today’s financial constraints, and stimulate growth and renewal in our economy, culture and society. After all you can’t impose austerity on the imagination!

How important is the Cumulus Conference to finding answers?
The Cumulus Conference is a major event on the academic Design calendar, and with over 200 delegates attending from across the globe, we aim to use our collective problem solving creative abilities to help address the issues facing design today.

How can associations use design to get their aim and message across?
Design is a set of thinking tools and creative methods that can be employed across sector, exploring, solving, visualising, communicating and disseminating issues, aims and messages.

The conference coincides with Dublin Design Week from 4 to 10 November 2013. Is this why you selected Dublin as destination?
The conference coincides with Dublin Design Week, a celebration of design including walks, talks, launches, exhibitions and workshops. The festival’s audience includes the designers who design things, the business community who purchase design services and most importantly, the public who are the end users of all designers’ services. We are delighted to be hosting the Institute of Designers in Ireland Awards exhibition during the Conference, and hope delegates will take some time to view the exhibition, and catch some of the events occurring throughout Design Week.

The conference will be held across two historic venues, the National College of Art and Design and Smock Alley Theatre. The National College of Art and Design (NCAD) occupies a unique position in art and design education in Ireland. It offers the largest range of art and design degrees in the state at undergraduate and postgraduate level. In the past many of the most important Irish artists, designers and art teachers have studied or taught in the College. It has long been the central and most important art and design educational institution in Ireland.

Smock Alley is located a short walk away from the NCAD, in the vibrant Temple Bar area, Dublin’s new cultural quarter. For more than a century, Smock Alley put Irish theatre on the European map, acting as the very core of an Ireland striving to find its own voice. As such the organizing committee felt it was a perfect venue for the Cumulus community to find a collective voice and vision.

Hosting this conference in Ireland is an exciting and timely opportunity to exchange ideas and foster new working relationships with leading design educators and practitioners across the globe. We look forward to meeting all the delegates and hope you enjoy the conference and Dublin’s legendary good craic!

Cumulus, the International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media, is the only global association to serve art and design education and research. It is a forum for partnership and transfer of knowledge and best practices. The Cumulus Conference 2013 takes place from 7 to 9 November at the National College of Art and Design Dublin, Ireland. It is organised by the NCAD (National College of Art and Design), Ireland and Cumulus, in association with Dublin Design Week and University College Dublin. w w w. cumulusassociation. org, w w w. cumulusdublin. com