Pronunciation: /prɒpəˈɡandə/ noun [mass noun]

1 Information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view.
1.1 The dissemination of propaganda as a political strategy.
2 A committee of cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church responsible for foreign missions, founded in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV.

Source Oxford Dictionaries (02 March 2017)


propaganda (n.)

(c.) 1718, “committee of cardinals in charge of Catholic missionary work,” short for Congregatio de Propaganda Fide “congregation for propagating the faith,” a committee of cardinals established 1622 by Gregory XV to supervise foreign missions. The word is properly the ablative fem. gerundive of Latin propagare. Hence, “any movement to propagate some practice or ideology” (1790). Modern political sense dates from World War I, not originally pejorative. Meaning “material or information propagated to advance a cause, etc.” is from 1929.

Source Etymology Online (02 March 2017)

On Friday 24 June 2016, Europe woke up into a new reality. Against all odds, Great Britain had voted in a referendum to leave the European Union. Stock markets plummeted, and both traditional and social media exploded in disbelief. In the following days, ‘what is EU’ became one of the most popular online searches in the UK. Leaders of the Brexit movement admitted that some of the arguments for leaving the EU were exaggerated, half-truths or outright lies. Many of those who had voted to leave, regretted and pleaded for a new referendum, admitting that they voted based on loose promises, nostalgia and rebellion against the current state of affairs without even believing that their votes would actually matter much.

Questions of propaganda 1 have become urgent. In addition to Brexit, phenomena such as the success of Donald Trump, rise of populist politics or the aftermath of the coup in Turkey in the summer 2016 have created situations that affect the lives of millions. In the design field, events such as What Design Can Do Refugee Challenge 2 or questions of design authorship in the case of designer Daan Roosegaarde 3, have created fierce argumentation about the communicative role of design and a designer.

Propagation of movements, ideologies and opinions is assisted by the development of algorithms, online news media and social media. 4 These contribute to formation of ever-differentiating echo chambers in which information, ideas and beliefs are amplified and repeated in increasingly enclosed systems. 

These echo chambers, which recognize the behaviour of an individual, disallow and under represent competing views and opinions. 

Design bears a strong communicative power and a long common journey with both commercial and political propaganda in terms of graphic or product design. As design traditionally carries an aura of exclusivity and desire, it has been used as a tool for commercialism for decades 5 . Advertising, fairs and design weeks are perhaps the most striking distribution channels for the ‘propaganda.’ Today, design is increasingly becoming a tool for social change. As counterterrorism analyst Artur Beifuss states, “design, advertising and counterterrorism are fields that should work together.”

Design is a medium that propagates through material and immaterial forms, such as objects, furniture, environment, graphics, systems or services. How can design interventions respond to the current societal phenomenon and state of propaganda? How does design contribute to the structuring of flows of propaganda? What is the current state of propaganda in the design field? What does design propagate – and what should it propagate?

1 The word ‘propaganda’ bears a religious origin with a meaning of setting an ideology or a movement forward. As a political action, propaganda became strongly associated with warfare after the World War I. Soon after, methods of propaganda became the foundation for the 20th century commercial marketing and promotion.

2 Pater, Ruben. Treating the refugee crisis as a design as a design problem is problematic. 21 April 2016, Dezeen Opinion

3 Schouwenberg, Louise. It’s about time we rethink the notion of authorship. 26 February 2016, Dezeen Opinion.


5 The Great Exhibition. Hyde Park, London. 1851.

Land of Panicutopia: Tales of Spectacle and Destruction

Gali Blay and Meggie Rotberger
Text, moving image.

Reality and fiction intertwine in a set of articles about Israeli-Palestine desert community and an Israeli defense system. The articles and collages bring along questions of physical and psychological elements of security.

A Euro is a Euro is a Euro: Fieldwork in European Realism

Paolo Patelli
essay, 3D animation.

As a singular embodiment of matter and representation, the Euro-Skulptur is as abstract as money, as tangible as cash. An essay and 3D scans made on site, analyse the sculpture as a material symbol of the European Union.

Tools of Communication

Coralie Gourguechon x Fabrica
database, website.

An evolving online database classifies examples of human communication, aligning anachronistic tools and systems that answer similar wills or needs, but with a different technology and context.

Ancestors & Algorithms

research, moving image.

A collection of observations draws together contemporary political events and ancient future-telling practices. These can be considered human and non-human strategies in forecasting what a political future might look like – for better or worse.

The Talking Machine

Paul Devens
audio installation.

Installed in Atelier Clerici during the Salone del Mobile 2017, The Talking Machine uses references from the pioneering stage of modern technology in todayʼs axis of time. The sound installation addresses the basic problematics of our current intertwinement and dependency of communication technology.

Empty Orchestra

MAGMAH (Gabriel A. Maher & Isabel Mager)
karaoke film, performance, statement.

A visual, text, sound montage pulls apart the official website of the Salone del Mobile, reinterpreting mainstream design media in a satirical comment on the rhetoric and disinformation of commodity culture and consumption.

Herbert Bayer and the Ethics of Design

Anja Neidhardt

Herbert Bayer was a significant designer. A lesser-known aspect of his work, alongside his commercial work, is he also worked for the Nazi regime. An essay investigating the responsibilities and ethics of designers while creating a form for a message.

There’s a Tourist in all Our Heads

Rui Gilman

Tourism changes social-economic relations alongside the materiality of the city itself. An essay maps the ascent of tourism through the case study of New York City, primarily the evolution of Times Square since 1975.