The Word – interview

Sint Lucas-lecturer, interdisciplinary graphic designer and curator of Integrated conference platform Hugo Puttaert is not one to mince his words. For the sixth edition of this international art and design conference, the Brussels-based creative has carefully pieced together a series of talks hosted by some of the world’s leading visual thinkers and makers. Using the essay Between creativity and criminality: The art & design of the civil domain – co-written between Puttaert and Antwerp Research Institute for the Arts’ Pascal Gielen – as this year’s polemic starting point, Integrated seeks to question all of our preconceived notions on what it means to design creatively in the oft-ignored civil domain. Over the course of the next two days, Integrated and its mighty line-up of notable speakers will be held at Antwerp’s cultural centre deSingel.

Can you tell us a few things about the conference?

Integrated started in 2007 as a biennial conference, even if the idea first popped up in the late 90s, when I added the baseline “integrated design” to my studio, visionandfactory. We didn’t want to be limited to only graphic design, since we’ve always stood at the cross-point of several disciplines. A bit later, when lecturing, I started to use the term integration as a way of looking at these diverse artistic disciplines. Fast-forward to today, Integrated as a conference has nothing to do with being politically correct. Rather, it stands for a place, a forum where ideas, visions and working methods interact, struggle or meet. It’s a plea for unconventional thinking, beyond borders of media, disciplines or even idioms. And it’s a platform for rethinking presumed models in design and art education.

How would you describe the majority of the speakers? In a more general sense, how would you describe their work, approach and aesthetic?

Although Integrated started off as an extended graphic design conference, it’s consciously evolved into a platform beyond the borders of its discipline since then. In that sense, we started to select speakers based on their way of thinking, their approach, the particularity of their practise; rather than on the specific discipline they work in. In this way, Integrated’s managed to always remain an art and design conference in the broadest sense possible. We never opt for the mainstream – there’s enough of that on (social) media. Instead, we explore the “extraordinary” – not in terms of “the spectacular”, but really literally. What the word means at its essential root. We search for “integration practices”, far removed from what is generally accepted as the norm. We try to look forward and backward, but also place ourselves firmly in the present. …


Written by Emi Vergels, published on november 14, 2017 in Art / Curator talks, © The Word magazine. Photo by © Tijs Vervecken.

Read the entire interview.
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