AIS/Design Storia e Ricerche #5 (April 2015)

Contact: and cc:
Deadline for submission of abstracts: UPDATED 10 October 2014

Designers and Writing in the Twentieth Century
edited by Fiorella Bulegato, Maddalena Dalla Mura and Carlo Vinti

AIS/Design. Storia e Ricerche is a peer-reviewed online journal promoted by the Italian Society of Design Historians and dedicated to the advancement of the history and historiography of design.

Issue No. 5, which inaugurates the editorial programme for the years 2015-2016, coordinated by Fiorella Bulegato, Maddalena Dalla Mura and Carlo Vinti, will be dedicated to the relationship between designers and writing and to investigating the impact it has had on the development of the culture of design in the twentieth century.


The development of the culture of design has been marked by the direct involvement of designers in writing. Throughout the twentieth century, designers have written about their own work and the work of their peers; they have elaborated manifestos, programmes and texts that have been crucial to the disciplinary debate, narrated the history of design from their own perspective; founded and directed periodicals; authored books and teaching manuals. Indeed, some designers have engaged in designing the layout of their publications, often developing unique forms of writing that enhance the visual components of the text.

Apart from its relevance to the practice of individual designers, the intersection of design and writing has played an evident role in certain national contexts, at specific moments in history. One such case is Italy, for example, which since the 1930s has developed a significant tradition of designers distinguished for their prolific and tireless writing, for their ability to integrate professional practice and critical thinking, contributing to nurture the system for the production and mediation of Italian design.

In recent years, not least in the wake of an increased interest in design criticism and the emergence of so-called “critical” design, the relationship between writing and design – including its historical developments – has gained renewed attention (see in particular Writing Design: Words and Objects, ed. by Grace Lees-Maffei, Berg, 2012).
However, the influence and impact that the theoretical, critical and historical, programmatic and educational writings of designers have had on the development of the culture of design, in different cultural contexts and historical circumstances, has yet to be fully analysed.

This issue of “AIS/Design. Storia e Ricerche” aims to investigate the diversified engagement of designers with writing activities and the different genres they have practiced in different cultural contexts, over the twentieth century, by collecting original research studies and critical reflections that will integrate the analysis of literature and primary sources to discuss one or more of the following issues:

the role of designers in the advancement of the theoretical, critical and historical discourse on design;
the role of writing “in” the practice of design and “as” design practice, in the work of individual figures, groups or movements, and in particular in the framework surrounding the more conceptual and self-reflective instances of design;
the influence of designers’ writings in different languages and national contexts (e.g. through translations and editions);
the contribution of magazines, publications and book series directed by designers to the critical-theoretical discourse of design and to the mediation of the design culture towards specialized and lay audiences;
the specific qualities of writing by designers in such genres as textbooks and educational publishing, auto-biographical narrative and testimony, the argumentative essay, criticism, magazine columns, news, editorial text etc.;
the case of designers who have concurrently held the roles of author, editor and designer of the editorial product, combining writing and graphic design.


All submissions are subject to blind peer-review.
Important dates:
September 29, 2014: abstract submission; the abstract (max. 300 words) illustrating the contribution proposal, will include the title and 5 keywords; the abstract can be in English (or English and Italian);
January 12, 2015: full paper submission; papers should be prepared according to the given style guidelines; submission will include a short abstract, 5 keywords, a short biographical note about the author/s, a set of images and captions (see below, under “Types of contributions and manuscript preparation”);
February 6, 2015: authors will be notified of the final acceptance of their papers;
March 2, 2015: final paper submission.
All submissions should be sent to: and cc:
For information and questions contact the editors at:


All proposed 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 featured (in any language), or that replicate texts published elsewhere, will be rejected without peer review.
Contributions will fall into the following categories:
Essay (contributions presenting a theoretical, critical, and methodological stance that offer an in-depth discussion or re-reading of broad historical arguments and questions) (max. 8000 words, including notes, references, captions)
Research study (papers based on studies conducted on primary sources and offering original historical insight into specific topics or stories) (max. 8000 words, including notes, references, captions)
Micro-history (papers that analyse particular and specific stories, which have been neglected to date or refer to the border areas of the discipline) (max. 4000 words, including notes, references, captions)
Full papers will be accompanied by a short abstract (max. 150 words), a list of 5 keywords, and by a short biographical note (max. 150 words).
Style and preparation guidelines for authors are currently under revision; they will be soon made available online.
To complement their contribution, authors can submit up to 10 images (copyright-free images or images for which authors have obtained the right/permission of publication), accompanied by full captions (including credits).

About Fil Salustri
I'm a design methodologist and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada. Adjectives that describe me include: secular humanist, meritocrat, and long-winded. Some people call me a positivist too, as if that were a bad thing. Go figure. My real home page is

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