Vera Sacchetti hails from Lisbon, Portugal. Following graduation, she wants to continue research in the field of social design, and contribute to the betterment of the discourse around it. As a Portuguese stranded in New York, Sacchetti is, like the swallows back home, very much in favor of impermanence.
Core77: It sounds like you've bounced around a bit before pursuing your MFA in D-Crit. How did you arrive at SVA?
Vera Sacchetti: Something just clicked for me while browsing the D-Crit website, one morning in 2008. After working as a communication designer in Lisbon for a couple of years, I was pursuing post-graduate studies in Contemporary Culture and wanted to find a way to write about the intersections of design and culture. Design writing in Portugal was and is still scarce; I wanted to make a contribution to the conversation. A year later, I arrived at SVA as a Fulbright scholar.
How does your European heritage inform your approach to design criticism compared to that of your peers? (Or does it at all?)
Obviously my background informs my opinion and writing, but only as much as any person's background informs theirs. It doesn't matter where you come from; to be a design critic, you must be informed and know your ground, have an opinion and a point of view. Otherwise how can you contribute to the design discourse?
We recently ran an essay by design educator Michael Sammet on "adaptive capacity," in which he suggests that design must move past sustainability towards resilience. Do you think this perspective is still a symptom the existing 'do-gooder' paradigm of social design, or does it reflect the same "true potential" that you address in your talk?
Like the resilience that Sammet addresses in his "Building Adaptive Capacity" essay, social design must be fundamentally adaptive to thrive. We know now that it is imperative to constantly reassess and reevaluate methods and outcomes. The social design practice—which in itself branches out from the sustainable design practice—must be willing to embrace complex, multi-layered problems with the right balance of rigor and adaptability. That will be a good first step to see this field evolve. It is, however, only one of many that will be necessary for social design to live up to its promise.
Vera Sacchetti is from Lisbon, Portugal where she studied communication design, contemporary culture and post-colonialism. She worked as an exhibition and way-finding designer prior to joining D-Crit as a Fulbright scholar. Sacchetti has written for Change Observer, Metropolis POV, The New City Reader, Arte Capital, and Proximo Futuro/Next Future, and co-edited At Water's Edge, the first D-Crit chapbook.
See Vera and her peers—not to mention the likes of Paola Antonelli, Bjarke Ingels and more—at Present Tense: The 2011 D-Crit Conference in two days, on Wednesday, May 4th.