P-R-O-J-E-C-T  I-N  P-R-O-G-R-E-S-S

Project by Gaja Meznaric Osole, Sibel Yuzudik and Esin Yılmazbilek

Normal can be understood as – 'obeying the norm, following a rule, regular; – habitual, frequent, usual, ordinary, moderate; – standard, not deviating from; – sane, healthy' (Kiossev: 2011). 'The norm is defined as the rule on the manner or established way in which a certain thing should be done. It is generally associated with the rational optimizing of technical and economic progress and the quality of life, while at the same time being understood as a counterweight to the processes of subjective individualization, creativity, and contradiction which belong to the sphere of human productivity' (Riccardi 2011).

When something is repeated or experienced a number of times it starts to become normal for the individual. Behaviour is normal when it is consistent and continuous, normality its closely connected with familiarity, understanding of things and actions. In this sense it is defined by the horizon of expectations and the conceptual limits of mass behaviour (Kiossev: 2011). What is normal is highly contextual. Definition varies dependent on the time, place and subject. The meaning of the normal is multiple, historically changeable and even contradictory (Kiossev: 2011).

In a contemporary capitalistic context of ownership and consumption normality is supported by the economical systems that repress the common (sense) normality. Today the imposed normality is defined by the cleanliness, comfort, convenience, and relaxation which is reflected in the reasoning and rationalities of contemporary western society. 'The contemporary social environment evokes the “normal” to become a designation for the internalized, routine, self-evident modern order, a designation that conceals its disciplinary and technological character' (Kiossev: 2011). Due to the legislation rules and mechanisation of the environment the automatic behaviour today can be perceived as natural behaviour.(Kiossev: 2011).


  • We argue that it is designers responsibility to create, enable and support new platforms for the recreation of norms based on proactive personal interrelations and information exchange between people.  
  • With challenging the accepted norms we intend to re-create the notion of normality in order to create a new one. This would eventually create a new common based on ideas of the engaged members of community. 
  • Our methodological approach is undertaking a series of performative experiments and intervene in the spaces of our everyday. 


We started the project with researching into what is normal in public transport spaces. By putting the sweets on the empty seats we observed the various reactions of the passengers. Most of them were ignoring the sweets pretending like it would be not normal to take and eat them even if they would want to. We observed that quite a few of the passengers secretly tried to take the sweet treats. After the first person dared to take the chocolate, more people followed him. It showed us that people tend be careful or suspicious in public transport spaces when behavioural normality is being challenged. We also concluded that the person who brakes the ice usually invites more people to engage.

For the second experiment we decided to choose a space that is common for all of us. We picked up Goldsmiths design department during the Design Methods and Processes lecture about predictions and speculations in design practice. We exposed the problem of lack of attention during the lecture. Consequently to that students often tend to use their phones for the entertainment and communication. Lecturers don't recognise this as a major issue any more. We asked ourselves when did this become normal? How quickly then things become normal? The case left us with understanding that people tend to adjust quickly to new and pleasant circumstances.

That led us to our final cultural change preposition. We have focused on our design building and the fact that it is not a very inviting place to learn in and not a lot of students stay in after the lectures and use the given facilities. When we came to the university we were all disappointed with the image of the department, however we soon got used to the conditions and the space became normal to us. We decided to challenge this fact and propose a new normality.

Knowing that we need to create a sticky seed in our new platform and that we have to design a pleasurable experience in order to change peoples behaviour we came up with the preposition:

  • We argue that the basic standards of the institution don't deliver pleasurable learning experiences. 
  • We would like to challenge the current normality and propose a re-creation of the accepted. 
  • We would like to create a platform that would enable students, teachers and other stuff to involve in the decision making processes to improve the working/learning experience in the space. 

Our seed is a platform for engaging design community to improve the spaces of their interaction. It is a technology based on the principles of the dandelion flower: with a base and the 'flying seeds'. The base is located in the most visible spot of the department. It contains packs of posted notes (seeds) in two colours. Two colour codes enable a dialog between the opposing opinions supported with a short explanation for each hotspot. Posted's enable participants to write on and express what is and what is not normal in the design department areas. By sticking the notes containing their suggestions for improvements they are creating new design prepositions all over the common space. The system functions as an in citu tagging platform for potential design opportunities.

Our project focuses on questioning actual normality of design department including the spaces mentioned below:
- entrance: redesigning the visual appearance of the entrance
- hexagon bringing blankets in the winter
- room 315: designing a posted note drawing table ...
- studios skills: exchange lessons organised interior
- kitchen: more storage area organising dinner events for the informal exchange of ideas of design department community
- corridor: cleaning the space so that it can be used as an exhibition space for design students' ongoing projects or information board windows can be opened when it feels stuffy

The space with enough comments and arguments would be reconsidered and prepositions for change would be put into action creating the new 'Normal state territory'.