Design Trust Seed Grant


Studio Isabel Mager

Matter becomes forms become objects become commodities become matters of exchange circulating across borders, through diverse socio-cultural and geopolitical contexts, through multiple hands, tactile interactions and bodily movements that perform an unauthored ideology of production and exchange. What is this ideology and how is it in service of the many participants who unwittingly engage in it?

Cycles uses design research to infiltrate the multinational lifecycle of electronic commodities in order to recenter the human through tangible design interventions. This multi-episodic endeavour focuses on the smartphone, Manufacturing being its first iteration. The ubiquitous modern device is a global product, puzzled together of physical components, sourced and assembled through a global supply network comprising multiple cultural sensitivities and political agendas.

Through a process-based design research approach, Cycles amasses a multifaceted geopolitical, sociocultural and personal data archive that is materialised through cross-disciplinary multi-sensorial collaborations, workshops and exhibitions.

About Isabel Mager

Mager received the Grant Programme for Talent Development by the Creative Industries Fund NL and was invited researcher and participant for the exhibition GEO–DESIGN: Alibaba. From Here To Your Home at Van Abbemuseum in 2018. In 2017 Mager participated at the Checkpoints & Chokepoints ArtEZ Master pilot programme in Arnhem, presented as Global Graduate speaker at the Design Indaba festival (Cape Town, ZA) and was a collaborative grant holder with designer Gabriel A. Maher of the IASPIS international residency programme (Stockholm, SE). In 2016 Mager received a BA Cum Laude from the Man & Wellbeing department at the Design Academy Eindhoven and spoke at the symposium Intersectional Perspectives on Design, Politics and Power in Malmö (SE), hosted by the Decolonising Design collective, with whome Mager co-published the article 5000times – Mechanism behind the design of smart high-tech devices.

About Studio Isabel Mager

Isabel Mager’s design practice investigates an interplay between design culture and structures of power. Design is applied methodologically for constructive research into complex architectures and movements of contemporary material production. Mager’s most recent work dissects complexities of mass material culture: transport, logistics & infrastructure, the agro-industrial food complex, supply access and hierarchies, technologies for worker management, consumer high-tech manufacturing and invisible forms of labour. In a process-based and embodied design research approach, the design work generates multifaceted geopolitical, sociocultural and personal data archives shaped through cross-disciplinary multi-sensorial collaborations, workshops and process-based exhibitions. By means of design languages, the data archives are translated into immersive installations, prototypes, performances and articles shared within design, academic and public contexts.