Submission deadline:

July 3, 2023

15th 4T Design and Design History Symposium: Design, Populism and Politics

October 12-14, 2023

FMV Işık University, İstanbul

Design is everywhere! Historically, the term design has gained currency and legitimacy in almost all disciplines, including engineering, architecture, industry, agriculture, economics, and politics. It has gained further popularity in the new millennium with the emergence of digital information and communication technologies and platforms such as social media. Due to its positive resonance, the term has been overcharged and manipulated in unprecedented ways, particularly by populist discourses and consumerist policies and practices.

Today, design is conveniently consumed by political, economic, and social mechanisms. This situation presents us with the emergence of popular phrases as diverse as parametric design, design thinking, feng shui design, wellness design, hair design, and design city. One the one hand, such appropriations further complicate conventional disciplinary boundaries and elitist definitions of design. On the other hand, in this somewhat suspect and complicated context, where everything can be produced, consumed, and marketed under design as a catchphrase, we believe it is time to revisit a fundamental question: But what do we mean by design? Instead of taking the various meanings of design for granted, we would like to critically explore what design has come to mean in history, theory, and practice in the face of populist and consumerist agendas. Questions proliferate:

  • How does the term design operate in various political and socio-cultural contexts?

  • How do various power structures attribute meaning and value to design?

  • How does design embody value?

  • How have academies and long-established design disciplines responded to such proliferation of meaning?

  • How is design instrumentalized by or mobilized against consumer capitalism?

Papers are invited to problematize the meaning of design and to address these questions in contexts including, but not limited to, activism, politics, economy, everyday life, disasters, education, management, health and medicine, digital technologies, user-experience, production and consumption networks, marketing, and media. Papers grounded in specific theoretical positions are strongly encouraged.

Those who are interested in contributing papers to the fifteenth 4T Symposium are invited to submit a title and an extended abstract of 800-1000 words, including a critical question/argument, theoretical/conceptual framework and research method, through EasyChair ( by 3 July 2023 (extended deadline). Registration to Easy-Chair is essential in order to submit abstracts. The symposium language is English, therefore all abstracts, presentations and papers should be in English. Selected proposals will be announced on 31 July 2023.

For any further information, please see the symposium website at or send an email to

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