What does it mean to write about design today? In the spring of 2022, Disegno Works partnered with Het Nieuwe Instituut (the Netherlands’ national museum and institute for architecture, design and digital culture) to launch Design Drafts, an open call writing programme that dug into this question.
The programme was created to champion up-and-coming voices in design criticism and experimental approaches to writing, with the aim of producing a print publication to showcase their work. Design Drafts is intended as an annual programme that rotates between different magazines, and Disegno was selected to launch the first edition and help give shape to what it will be like going forward.
Disegno’s editorial team worked closely with Het Nieuwe Instituut to construct an open call that would appeal to a broad range of early practitioners, with the programme ultimately organised around the theme: “Is design just a game?” The theme was selected to provide guidance and support to applicants, while still rewarding creative, unusual interpretations of its core ideas.
Following the promotion of the open call through both teams’ websites, social media channels and networks, an international jury selected a small group of global designers, writers and researchers to enter the programme.
Disegno and the museum’s team worked with the selected writers through one-to-one and group workshops to develop, write and edit their texts. The result was six original works, including personal essays, historical fiction, new memes memes and a comic strip.
The final publication of Design Drafts #1 was included as a special feature in Disegno #34, introducing new experimental formats and writers to the journal, as well being published as a stand-alone magazine distributed by Het Nieuwe Instituut.