Unpleasant Design Research Lab & Tour (1)

In recent years cities have become victim of a growing surveillance and control trend, manifested in a variety of unpleasant installations in public space. Its maintenance is increasingly outsourced to uncomfortable urban furniture and smart surveillance systems that serve as "silent agents" of social control and order enforcement. These "agents" of Unpleasant Design are non-negotiable instances of power, rendering public space into a place of homogeneity and similitude. To offset this, numerous resistance tactics have been applied by artists and activists reclaiming the diversity of public space. 
We, the Unpleasant Design Team, have identified common denominators and algorithms behind unpleasant applications. We have also identified some interesting ways to oppose them. At the Unpleasant Design Workshop, we will share our insights with the participants, asking them to help us carve the way to more resistance strategies. 
Our approach to the problem is two-fold. Firstly, we will try to understand how do Unpleasant Designs come to be, how are they invented, who comes up with the ideas and what qualifies as unpleasant design in the first place. We will use this knowledge to brainstorm about possible unpleasant designs of our own. We will then split into think-tanks to come up with as many ways to subvert unpleasant designs as possible. The participants will use persuasive and coercive design techniques to invent a design which targets a specific unpleasant design solution. Some of these ideas will finally be implented in public space in Linz. 
The workshop will be given in two days, first day reserved for research and brainstorming, the second for production. We will organise an Unpleasant City-Tour  through Linz, discovering and mapping out some notorious examples of Unpleasant Design.
people interested in design of urban spaces, maintenance and sharing, politics of inclusion, discrimination and social justice, persuasive design, reclaiming space
  • map out unpleasantness of the city 
  • subvert your favourite unpleasant designs
  • design unpleasant for somebody else 
imagine ourselves  being the ones who have to come up with an unpleasant design against a  particular behaviour or social group (i.e. homeless, skaters, bank-robbers, dog owners, paretns with strollers, pigeons, bankers...). Once you put  yourself in the "shoes" of this other, often conservative and  profit-driven personality, you are able to better understand the underlying tactics and recipes for unpleasantness; thus you are also  able to come up with imaginative ways to subvert them. We consider this a liberating process, empowering participants to think up strategies for  reclaiming space and making it more accessible, more pleasant. 
Day 1
  •  Introduction 30 minutes
  • Planing the "Research City Tour" : 30 minutes 
  • Unpleasant City Research Tour: 1h30
  •     Discussion/Presentations,/PLans for Day 2  : 1,5h
Day 2
  • Resume, Continue of started process Day 1 
  • WORK: different groups activites depending on "MAKE What" (2nd , Unpleasant City-Tour, Unpleasan-Interventions), 3h
  • Meeting 17:00 summary, feedback, etc


max. Participants
Target group