Project Review: ‘Making Room for Abolition’, by Lauren Williams

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Aggie Toppins


This review positions Lauren Williams’ installation ‘Making Room for Abolition’, shown in ‘Monolith’ at Red Bull Arts in Detroit, as a speculative design project that presents a two-fold critique: one directed at US society and the other, at speculative design itself. As a discourse and practice, speculative design offers a model for designing in socially-oriented, post-capitalist contexts, but it has yet to fully unmoor itself from colonialist ideology. I present common critiques of speculative design—specifically: the lack of attention to race- and class-based struggles, the assumption that time is absolute, and its stance that preferable futures must be plausible—to show how Williams addresses these shortcomings while centering Black experiences and imagination in a dream of abolitionist futures.


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How to Cite
Toppins, A. (2023). Project Review: ‘Making Room for Abolition’, by Lauren Williams. Diseña, (22), Article.1.
Author Biography

Aggie Toppins, Washington University in St. Louis

MFA, Maryland Institute College of Art. She is an Associate Professor of Communication Design and Chair of Undergraduate Design in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. Her recent publications include ‘Dig If You Will the Picture…: Reading Prin­ce’s Semiotic Worldʼ (Design Issues, Vol. 38, Issue 4) and ‘Good Nostalgia/Bad Nostalgiaʼ (Design and Culture, Vol. 14, Issue 1).


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