Design for New Dystopias: Tools for Political Representation and Subversion


Dystopia proliferates through control, manipulation and uniformity, because, in order to radicalize and impose itself, it needs not only Foucauldian «useful and docile» bodies, but also aesthetically and ideologically similar individuals. To achieve its goal, the authority exploits psychophysical submission to shape its social body and rigidly organizes communication, fashion, design, architecture and space, perfect expressions of its grandeur, its benefits and its nightmares, also facilitating the recognition, the limitation and the eradication of otherness. How do places and objects reflect dystopia and support its plans? How will dystopian theories and trends affect everyday life? This contribution intends to investigate the phenomenology oriented towards the pre-visualization of possible futures, using in an interdisciplinary way dystopia and the design culture as tools for representing, narrating and deciphering the relationships between humans and objects. The study also reflects on the influence of technology and on the men-artifacts relationship, highlighting its possible evolutions and the changes that the experience of material (and non-material) space has on relationships, lifestyles and human and social values. Considering some significant works of the genre, such as Orwell’s 1984, Moore and Lloyd’s V for Vendetta, and Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and comparing the dystopian realities examined with some historical, design and cultural trends of the 20th century and of the 21st century, the contribution intends to analyse: the material construction and ideal representation of dystopia; the relationship between space, authority and population; the relationship between man, otherness and artifacts; the relationship between design, science and technology.


Elisabetta Di Minico
Post-doc, Faculty of Political Sciences, Complutense University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain

Ivo Caruso
Researcher, Architecture, "Federico II" University of Naples, Italy


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Design in Society


Dystopia, Resistance, Political Representation, Critical Design

Digital Media

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