Loraine Furter

Loraine Furter is a graphic designer and researcher based in Brussels since 2007. She specialized in editorial design, hybrid publishing, and intersectional xfeminism. She designs and edits paper publications as well as web and digital ones, and is particularly interested in the interaction between these media.

What was the impact of your experience as a design student and practitioner on the way you do research and the way you teach?

When I teach, I always try to remember what and how I was taught, as a way to critically reflect on ideas and values that are often transmitted in a (traditional) graphic design class. It is also an exercise of keeping in mind another perspective than the one of the teacher — I can also do that because my learning experiences are still quite fresh, less than ten years at least and because I keep on learning every day.

My experience as a teacher (and the changes I wanted to make compared with what I learned as a student) was actually a departure point for my current research project. I was asked to teach classes about the history of bookmaking and artists’ books. When I started preparing this class and looked back at what I learned and at my references for artists’ books, I could only see examples of white males. A canon I didn't want to reproduce, as I'm trying to teach, design, and research with an intersectional feminist perspective. So I had to dig much deeper. First, because it was quite hard to find documentation and as a consequence, it became more and more interesting… it became a whole research project that I am still busy with.

De-mystifying the practice of design helped me for sure. It helps me addressing urgent taboos like economic questions, which are also very political, and are linked to issues of access and privilege. On that topic, I'm very inspired by the works of the collectives Wages for Wages Against and Evening Class.

As an educator, what are your main concerns regarding the construction of a curriculum?

Being as much inclusive as I can, but not with universal rhetoric. I'm trying to avoid telling things as if they were “normal,” universal, neutral, objective. I try to show that everything is a construction, with a situated position, and to be transparent about the fact that building a curriculum is partial, it is a narration, and it can be questioned. It is very complex, and it needs a constant reflection, both at the level of content (what) and the way you are telling things (how).

How do you balance between what you bring as an educator and what is built collectively from the experiences in the classroom?

This depends on the type of class, as I teach both practical and theoretical classes. Each configuration brings its own challenges. Still, basically, I'm trying to ask questions rather than giving answers, and I'm telling stories or sharing experiences rather than “explaining” how things work or were done.

What is your process to construct a more diverse bibliography for your class? Is this effort something you make explicit to the students?

Yes! As I said in the first question — that's actually my starting point when teaching a new class. I explain how I built the syllabus and what are the challenges and responsibilities that come with such exercise. Also, we often build it together — I ask students to bring examples, to write on them, etc.

And finally, could you share the titles you find essential or helpful in order to build a more diverse and inclusive design bibliography?

That's a huge question. I will try to make it short, with a focus on resources which list other resources.

- https://eyeondesign.aiga.org/what-does-it-mean-to-decolonize-design/#:post_64882 (it lists all the significant recent platforms like decolonizing design, depatriarchise design, …) — Eye on Design is itself a useful resource, with groundbreaking articles on the politics of design;

- The Decolonising Design Reader by Ramon Tejada, which is also collaborative

- This one, too, is a very excellent pedagogical project: http://parallelnarrativ.es/

- Instagram. Yes, not very ethical in terms of data protection, but today for some topics, it is a valuable source — “serious” books take the time of legitimation + means. @teaching.design, for instance, fits in the resource about resources, and there are many more examples.

-More visually, the work/conferences and research/exhibition such as 'As, Not For,' by Jerome Harris — whom I'm inviting to a the graphic design festival Fig.Festival Inopiné de Graphisme, in Belgium, Liège in February 2020. I'm a big fan of his research and his analysis of graphic design.