Call for Papers: AIS/Design. Storia e Ricerche # 7 – Il design al lavoro / Design at work

AIS/Design. Storia e Ricerche” – n. 7 (December 2015)

Design at work: the history of design between the profession and industry
edited by Fiorella Bulegato and Dario Scodeller
* abstract submission deadline 8 June *
“AIS/Design. Storia e ricerche” is the peer-reviewed online journal of the Italian Association of Design Historians, dedicated to the advancement of research into every aspect of design history and to the publication of higher scientific research.
Issue number 7, coordinated by Fiorella Bulegato and Dario Scodeller, is dedicated to the work of designers in the many different forms in which it has been expressed and developed since the 1930s, in the fields of product, visual and exhibition design. The intent is to examine, taking a point of view from within the profession, the relationship between design autonomy, and the constraints or opportunities represented by the context of organization, production and distribution – intrinsic to manufacturing companies and institutions – within which the designer must operate.
The economic, social, technological and cultural transformations underway, especially since the end of the short twentieth century as a result of the so-called third industrial revolution, are modifying consolidated production models – considering, for example, the impact of digital fabrication on the process of ideation, design and production, or the perspectives of open design. In this scenario it becomes increasingly urgent to reflect upon the role of the designer in the process of producing artefacts and on the transformations that the profession has always undergone.
The many ways that the design process has been conceived and carried out, is a field of investigation that has been by and large neglected by studies on design history, even in biographical research. To focus on the context in which the designer works, on the organization and development of his work and on the interferences, influences and collaborations it entails, studying the collective effort of all the subjects involved, can help to provide a more accurate reconstruction of the complex matter of design.
Apart from the cultural context, the designer has always worked in a specific operative milieu distinguished by rituals, practices and routines, in which the design process develops through meetings, discussions of briefs, strategic analyses, research, concepts, representations, presentations of proposals and progress reports, de-briefing, development of working drawings, problem-solving, construction of models and prototypes; a process in which the design is constantly challenged, and is the result of the degree of constraint that the designer is willing to accept and of the freedom he can carve out of his relationship with his client and with the other actors engaged in the development of a product or a communication strategy.
On the other hand the designer, whether an independent professional or employed by a manufacturing company, has always had to deal with many different professional figures and the results, in the light of historic research, appear to be the result of a system of relations with technical, commercial and strategic and other figures, rather than a two-way relationship between a designer and an entrepreneur.
This issue of “AIS/Design Storia e Ricerche” intends to shed a light on the many roles and responsibilities that designers have shouldered since the 1930s, and that their work has generated within manufacturing companies or working for manufacturing companies as a consultant and professional; the goal is in particular to collect original research studies that rely on the analysis of literature and primary sources to address one or more of the following aspects:
> the designer within a manufacturing company: the relationship of the designer with different professional figures (the entrepreneur, management, technical figures, marketing and strategy, etc.) has led to experiences channelled within consolidated design processes, sometimes changing or reinventing their form, with roles and contributions that have yet to be explored by design histories;
> the designer as art director: the role of this figure in the processes of strategic planning, ideation, development and innovation, in the construction of new company identities and in the strategic positioning of manufacturing companies;
> the designer and industrial know-how: the relation between the designer’s autonomous experimentation and control over the final outcome in the relationship between the designer and the roles of the technician and director of production;
> the experience of working in a team or as a collective; the design project and group dynamics;
> the dialogue with the entrepreneur: case studies of fertile relationships between professional designers and entrepreneurs, with a preference for little-explored themes that can open new critical perspectives based on original documentary sources or on new understandings of known sources;
> the relationship, during the process of developing products and communication artefacts, between the designer and “intermediary” professional roles (that may no longer exist) such as the model-maker, the prototype developer, the photo-lithographer, the colour corrector, the layout artist, the typesetter and the new professional roles that have grown out of digital prototyping since the 1980s;
> the designer in the firm: the practice, organization and management of the creative process and the development of the working drawing within a professional firm and the relationship between the designer and his staff;
> the designer-entrepreneur: when the designer produces his own products.
All papers are subject to blind peer-review.
The deadlines are as follows:
•    June 8, 2015:  submission of an abstract (max. 300 words or 2000 characters) illustrating the contribution proposal; the abstract, complete with title, must include a list of 5 keywords, and must be  submitted in English or Italian;
•    June 22, 2015: authors will be notified of the acceptance of their abstract;
•    September 14, 2015full paper submission; papers should be prepared according to the given style guidelines; submission will include an abstract, 5 keywords, a biographical note about the author/s, a set of images and captions (see below, under “Types of contributions and manuscript preparation”);
•    October 16, 2015: authors will be notified of the final acceptance of their papers;
•    November 13, 2015final paper submission for publication.
All submissions should be sent on or before the deadline to: and cc:
For information and questions please contact the editors at:
All submitted contributions must be original texts. Papers that are beyond the scope of the journal, that have previously been submitted to other journals or have already been published in magazines or books in Italian or in any other language, or that replicate, in words or meaning, texts published elsewhere, will be rejected without peer review.
The contributions will be divided into the following categories:
1.  essays (contributions presenting a theoretical, critical, and methodological stance, that offer an in-depth exploration, discussion or new interpretation of broad historical arguments and questions) (max. 50,000 characters, including notes, bibliographical references and captions);
2. research studies (original papers on specific historical-analytical issues, based on studies conducted on primary sources and offering original historical insight into specific topics or stories) (max. 50,000 characters, including notes, bibliographical references and captions);
3. micro-histories (papers distinguished by the peculiar or innovative nature of the theme, with an analytical approach to original or circumscribed stories, or stories that have been neglected to date or refer to the border areas of the discipline) (max. 30,000 characters, including notes, bibliographical references and captions).
Final papers for publication must be accompanied by a short abstract (max. 150 words or 1000 characters) in Italian or in English, a list of 5 keywords referring to the themes and the authors of the paper, and a short biographical note (max. 150 words or 1000 characters), in Italian or in English.
In view of this submission, we ask you to prepare the manuscripts and required materials following the guidelines available at
To complement their contribution, authors may submit up to 10 copyright-free images or images for which authors have obtained the right/permission for publication (for an online magazine), accompanied by full captions that include credits.

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