Moisset: «A profound revision of hegemonic control over knowledge is taking place and the notion of a single line of thought is being questioned…; this encourages us to reconsider the way in which we configure cities, buildings, and objects»
Inés Moisset, architect, professor, editor, and coordinator of the group “One day, one architect” reflects about the bond between knowledge and design since its inception, while analyzing the historical weaving of the discipline’s official narrative.
Born in Cordoba in 1967, Inés Moisset is an architect, who graduated from the School of Architecture, Urbanism, and Design at the National University of Cordoba (FAUD-UNC), and she holds a PhD in Architectural Research and Composition granted by the University Institute of Architecture in Venice. Devoted to project formation and evaluation tasks, she has supervised interns and PhD students from several institutions since 2004. She has also been part of the jury in important international events, like the Arquitetos do Brasil Institute Award, the Iberoamerican Biennial of Architecture and Urbanism, and similar biennials of the sort in Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina.
In 1992, she began her work as a researcher and promotor of material culture, alongside Marina Waisman. She is the author of three books and co-author of fourteen more; she has also written articles for such publications as ARQ, Summa, Vitruvius y Quaderns. From the headquarters of i+p, the printing house she founded with Omar Paris in the city of Cordoba, she performed for fifteen years as the editor of boogazine 30-60, Cuaderno Latinoamericano de Arquitectura, publication that won a Honorable Mention at the 2010 Panamerican Biennial in Quito.
She belongs to editorial committees of several Latin American publications, she has participated in published work such as “Women in Architecture”, organized by the New York Guggenheim Museum, and she constantly updates Wikipedia articles as part of the group Muj(lh)eres Latinoamericanas.
Currently, she is the coordinator of the group “One day, one female architect”, devoted to highlighting women’s work in the field. This project was recipient of the Milka Bliznakov Award, given by the International Archive of Women in Architecture at Virginia Tech (United States). As part of the group’s agenda, she organized the “Women in Architecture Meeting”, the opening event of the 2015 International Architecture Biennial in Buenos Aires.
In this re-launching of the Expert Opinion section of the Old&Newsletter –that, from March on will elaborate one distinct topic every month–, Moisset talks about the challenges, deficits, and complexities of the interconnections between design and knowledge.
–Can we and rethink or redefine the meaning of design based on knowledge? And re-define knowledge from design’s perspective? Can either one be separated from the other?
–Design is a hybrid between thought and action: they cannot be understood apart from one another. The first intellectual reflection about architecture, developed by Vitruvio in the I century B.C., provides the definition of the discipline, then conceived as a science, according to which the theoretical approach complemented with the practical one, would derive in improved building results. The treatise states the fact that architecture was not only interpreted as the act of erecting, but also as urbanism, infrastructure, and mechanisms or objects.
Since the Middle Ages, knowledge transference related to arts and crafts was connected to the process of making, replicating, what the Master produced. In the XVI century, with the origin of Academies, learning began to be regulated and institutionalized. Today, we cannot expect innovations to arise without the purposeful development of both knowledge and practical skills that expand theoretical corpuses, thus being product of intellectual thought and producing material results.
–What cases, actors, products or elements related to Argentine and international culture embody an uplifting experience of that sort?
–There are many cases but choose to put Bauhaus on the spotlight, since we recently celebrated its centennial. Besides, it stands out because it is an experience of collective knowledge-building and it encompasses a wide diversity of creative activities: art, industrial design, graphic design, architecture, etc. Bauhaus professors (all male except for Gunta Stölz) were renowned artists that produced as fine work as any other master of the craft. New perspectives and ways of understanding a world that was undergoing drastic changes were explored in its workshops. That body of knowledge reaches us today through the school’s own publications, an endeavor carried out by the Czech writer and photographer, Lucía Moholy-Nagy, who organized the Bauhaus book collection.
This group of designers and artists from the early XX century, fulfilled the complete research cycle: from the production of knowledge based on experimental practices to the communication of the acquired wisdom. To produce, to think, and to communicate are three inseparable actions.
–Has the bond between design and knowledge changed throughout the XXI century as a result of new technologies and new ways of learning, living, consuming, and interacting?
–The links between thought design and produced design are in constant change. There are many factors that explain this, such as a strong retro emphasis on visual elements, a usual way of communication from the past used, for example, in Gothic cathedrals as a vehicle to convey ecclesiastical messages and stories that were then minimized by rationalistic trends. Visual thinking is currently being re-valued. Simultaneously, more democratic knowledge diffusion channels became available, thus making accessible to a broad audience debates that were previously restricted to elite groups. These spaces require an adequate design.
Besides, a profound revision of hegemonic control over knowledge is taking place and the notion of a single line of thought, produced mainly by white, western, heterosexual males without disabilities, is being questioned. These, previously undermined, points of view encourage us to reconsider the way in which we configure cities, buildings, and objects.
–How can we boost the potential of this pairing in order to produce innovative solutions that foster improvement in such areas as social inclusion, cultural diversity, gender equality, environmental care, and access to education?
–Presently, at least in Latin America we are witnessing a significant wave of pro-rights movements. We must revise the values that we learnt during our training period in order to find the place where community and design, as a discipline, meet. This entails a reassessment of design’s limitations and potentials. I notice that we are still behind social demands and concerns and that institutions have burdensome mechanisms which, due to several corporate interests, become obstacles when it comes to address those issues. In that sense, I believe that innovations will be produced in the margins, in the periphery, and, from that position, they will put pressure on the center.