Critiquing the (Design) Encyclopaedia Reading Group, Centre for Design History, Transnational Strand

First session commencing Tuesday 2nd May 2023, 1-2pm.

Running the first Tuesday of the month at lunchtimes, this reading group will aim to explore the complexities of putting together an encyclopaedia of design. An encyclopaedia gathers knowledge in one place and is presented as an overview of all knowledge in that subject area or discipline. While there are many arguments for encyclopaedic collections of knowledge, such as easier access and sharing for all, this can be a negative in that ease of access to knowledge of a particular group or persons limits their control over that knowledge or narrative. It is also the case that no encyclopaedia can contain everything so when an encyclopaedia of design is created, where is the distinction made between what is considered design and included in the boundaries of the project and what excluded? Why does all knowledge need to be accessible to all? If ‘knowledge is power’ then encyclopaedic knowledge is encyclopaedic power. This reading group is being developed to engage with the forthcoming University of Brighton-edited volume of the Design Encyclopaedia.

We will be meeting in Pavilion Parade, Room 101 but there is capacity to join the session through Teams by clicking here.

We welcome provocations for discussion (texts, artworks, songs, films etc) that focus on the Global South with a particular emphasis on provocations created by members of the Global South and its diasporas. We would like to invite practitioners, activists, community groups, scholars, and makers from around the world to offer stories and histories in design history that expand the canon and push the limits of a narrow understanding of design and material culture.

Some examples of provocations we will be utilising in early sessions:

Bawaka Country, Wright, S., Sandie, S., Lloyd, K., Laklak, B., Ritjilili, G., Merrkiyawuy, G., Banbapuy, G., Djawundil, M. & Sweeney, J. 2016, “Co-becoming Bawaka”, Progress in human geography, vol. 40, no. 4, pp. 455-475.

To register interest in attending or to suggest provocations please contact Jo Pilcher ( and Kamal Badhey (

Neale, Margo ‘White man got no Dreaming’, in Margo Neale ed, Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters, National Museum of Australia, Canberra 2017, pp.202-207 p.204