In a period that we design everything, from our tables to our hair, from our living spaces to our lifestyle, to put the design at the center of life is equivalent to hit the spirit of time at bull’s eye. The design now has a multi-layered structure that cannot be a discipline on its own. So much so that from engineers to artisans, from scientists, to thinkers, everyone is aware of its influence and therefore its power. The discipline that combines, transforms, directs and creates perception, produces and renews itself every time, has exceeded limits of its own field and placed above the disciplines. This new position undoubtedly bring along to redefine the necessity of what the design is. Not only the design, but the "learning" action is also debatable in the 21st century when artificial intelligence is on our agenda. From YouTube videos to distance learning, concepts of "learning" and "teaching" that we crossed at many points from workshops to academies are evolving just like everything else in our lives. Where there is no limit and there is no certain course of learning; the continuity of change and development -and the necessity of continuity- was clearly visible. This year, the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial 2018, which will take place on September 22nd-November 4th with the theme "A School of Schools", is based on this awareness. This approach, which adopts "learning from learning" as a method and transcends not seeing it in the form of "practicing/making" while doing it and transforming it into an "abstract space" where all the disciplines together as an interrogation and thinking tool can interact, is multiplicative to the biennial, and it gives the process a dimension in which it becomes a school. The biennial, curated by Jan Boelen, enables to research, experiment and learn something new from the city and its residents by putting the accumulation of previous biennials together in its core by almost becoming a laboratory and thus aims to create a productive, process-oriented education. The biennial, which aims to stretch the sense of time and space of design activities and transforms design into a school in this context, is asking these questions that are used in the press text expression "can it create a meaningful dialogue and design environment by questioning and re-framing, using previously tested and approved training models from encyclopaedical to labs, workshops and academies; can design itself become a brave field where people can share their knowledge, ignorance, experience and curiosity?"
The 4th Istanbul Design Biennial, which will present "design" and "learning from learning" culture at various points of Istanbul in a rich format in the 6 weeks between September 22nd and November 4th, made its open call over two arms as "schools" and "learners". "School" format; from an hourly class to online network or to an alternative university; it covers from on-the-spot observations and other methods to all schools of critical thinking. The definition of "learner" is also fairly egalitarian and free; anyone who is willing to participate in one of the schools in the biennial, regardless of his/her expertise, background or experience in design, can exhibit mind-blowing in exploration and transformation can take part in the biennale as a "learner". Many countries responded to the call made with the emphasis that "the priority will be given to suggestions, which are passionate about learning and has a high learning capacity and focuses on transforming learning into something that can be expressed". 4th Istanbul Design Biennial has received over 700 applications from 41 countries this year; and assessment continues.
In an interview with the biennial curator Jan Boelen, the importance of the 21st century design and "A School of Schools" theme, says "I think diversity is a key element not only for achieving flexible design, but also for having a design approach in this way. The important thing is that the designer should now be someone who manages the process and works with people, directs the discussions between the different work partners such as engineers, scientists, artists, social scientists, people on the streets and other designers, rather than being a specialist in a particular context. And thus, it should be able to lead to new design proposals and working methods just like spider web".
The biennial will be built on eight themes as metrics and maps, time and attention, Mediterranean and immigration, disasters and earthquakes, food and traditions, pattern and rhythm, money and capital, parts and pockets and will try to make the motto "learn from learning" at any moment, from one hour's workshops to various events that will be spread to the months. During the biennial, many people from various disciplines from 41 countries; will get the chance to produce together while interrogating and discussing issues related to each other on the issues from the earthquake to the immigration, from time to capital.