London: Design's Collapse into the Political and Technological Uncertain

January 4-21, 2019 (Note: Dates Subject to Change)
United States

London Study Trip

*Note: Dates subject to change

London has long been considered both the design and financial capital of the world. Historically it has thrived through multiple iterations of financial hardship and political unrest. As Brexit (Britain’s exit from Europe) approaches over the distant horizon, the UK has not only found itself entering a vortex of perpetual uncertainty: politically, territorially, technologically and socio-politically; but is currently locked in a period of economic austerity.

Whilst it’s not uncommon to posit design as being inextricably linked to the articulation of luxury, one must be prepared to acknowledge the complexities and symmetry between a culture of luxury and that of economic and political disparity. Using London as a research site, students will be led through a series of sites, archives and dialogues with designers, critics, writers and curators operating at different infrastructural scales and time-lines across the City of London with the aim to ask and investigate how design begins to broadly self-evaluate and project forward in an age of uncertainty. We shall take a closer look at the historical and its role in the collapsing contemporary; moving through the established notion of ‘the object’ as artefact to ‘things-in-motion’ to the coalescing of fictional and factual material as served to inform and infect the broader political consciousness.

This trip will include discussions and visits to designers operating in Google’s artificial intelligence laboratory Deepmind and UK policy design tank .GOV, to the cultural provocateurs of design criticism such as Disegno Design Journal, Cat Rossi and Cabinet. We shall visit both public facing museums and their private collections, such as: The Design Museum, The Imperial War Museum and The Victoria and Albert Museum as well as the private archives of Stanley Kubrick. Students will meet and converse with studios such as: the international type designers of Dalton Maag; Margaret Howell and culturally recognised food provocateur Fergus Henderson of St John’s ‘nose to tail’ butchery restaurant. We shall also visit small studios working and thriving at the edge the discipline such as: synthetic biology designer, Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg; sound designer, Yuri Suzuki; design explorers, Studio Swine and FAT’s. A series of lectures and dialogues with various academics, critics and authors across multiple fields and institutions will serve to compliment the trip - acting as a guide to discuss the critical contemporary across art, design and architecture.

Credits: 3 credits STUDIO (4000-level) and / or 3 credits ARTHI (4000-level)


Ilona Gaynor, Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects

Barry Curtis,  Critical and Historical Studies, Royal College of Art, London

Program fee: Approx. $1,750 (including transport during the program, accommodation and some meals; not including airfare).

PLUS Tuition cost per credit:

Undergraduate—$1,613 per credit hour

Graduate—$1,665 per credit hour


Budget at least $950 for airfare if flying from Chicago. Note this is only an estimated figure. Actual fare will depend on many variables including airline, number of stopovers, exchange rate fluctuations, ports of departure and return, and date of ticket purchase).

Online registration begins: October 10, 2018

Deposit due at registration: $525

Information sessions: 

Friday, September 7, 12:10 p.m.

MacLean Centre, 112 S. Michigan Ave., room MC 707

Monday, October 1, 12:10 p.m.

MacLean Centre, 112 S. Michigan Ave., room MC 111