In the run-up to Dutch Design Week 2018, Design Academy Eindhoven (DAE) is staging the public presentation of its new design research project GEO—DESIGN* at Van Abbemuseum. The exhibitionAlibaba. From here to your homefits into the framework of the ongoing collaboration between DAE and Van Abbemuseum, this year documenting the outcomes of GEO—DESIGN’s first project. The initial episode seeks to trace the nebulous outlines of Alibaba, best known as the world’s largest virtual shopping mall. Behind the façade of an online showcase, Alibaba is much more than just a Chinese retail giant. Among several other things, it is also an online platform, a financial institution, a social network, an innovation centre and a provider of educational channels. To sustain its multiple incarnations, the company runs an indescribably vast logistics network that spans about half the globe, linking cities, ports, and large and small manufacturing facilities. Through all these different guises – sometimes visible, but often obscure – Alibaba exercises an inescapable influence on every stage of today’s design process.Starting in August 2018 a group of nine design researchers, all DAE graduates, have been invited to examine the operational model of the Chinese company. They concentrated their research on the implications of Alibaba on the design discipline. Each designer focused on one specific aspect, using an array of techniques and languages to report on their searches and findings.Alibaba. From here to your homeshows how the different projects enter this highly complex system and how each designer creates another reading of its extended network of larger and smaller players.The exhibition visualises standards that haven’t yet been integrated in a Western vision of design. Unfamiliar actors are brought into the museum.Through the lens of Alibaba the projects investigate new perspectives on the complex systems that dominate the global market place.E-commerce giants such as Alibaba do not simply shape the rules of production or design; they have become influential geopolitical forces.* GEO–DESIGN is a design research initiative, aimed at exploring the social, economic, geographic, and geopolitical forces that shape the work of designers today. It traces global flows of production and consumption, scans news and business channels, looks at geographies and demographics, and interprets these sources of information as the input for design research projects in the field or in the studio.
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