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Victor Papanek: Designer for the Real World

Victor Papanek: Designer for the Real World

Current price: $40.00
Publication Date: March 23rd, 2021
The MIT Press
Special Order - Subject to Availability


The history and controversial roots of the social design movement, explored through the life and work of its leading pioneer, Victor Papanek.

In Victor Papanek: Designer for the Real World, Alison Clarke explores the social design movement through the life of its leading pioneer, the Austrian American designer, theorist, and activist Victor Papanek. Papanek's 1971 best seller, Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change has been translated into twenty-two languages and never fallen out of print. Its politics of social design, anti-corporatism, and environmental sustainability have found renewed pertinence in the twenty-first century and dominate the agendas of design schools today. Drawing extensively on previously unexplored archival sources, Clarke uncovers and contextualizes the movement's controversial origins and contradictions.

About the Author

Alison J. Clarke is a design historian and social anthropologist. She is Professor of Design History and Theory at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, where she is also Director of the Victor J. Papanek Foundation.

Praise for Victor Papanek: Designer for the Real World

“Alison Clarke holds up a mirror to Victor Papanek to reveal a fresh picture of the designer and educator by showing how his influence and legacy of ideas are broader than what was previously suggested. [ . . . ] Clarke is adept at explaining the culture within which her subject existed. Her approach takes the reader through Papanek’s prescient ideas that emerged out of the prognostic nature of his design thinking. As such, her biography of Papanek doesn’t subordinate his thinking to his non-conformist personality, but shows how his provocative thinking and understanding of design as a relational practice was contingent on his being in the world. [ . . . ] [Victor Papanek] will provide both design educators and students alike with an opportunity to reflect on their own design practice in terms of for whom they work and for what they stand.”
Design and Culture