Ruben Pater’s lecture on the role of graphic design in capitalism

27 Oct 21 — 27 Oct 21

Capitalism could not exist without coins, banknotes, documents, graphics, interfaces, brands and advertisements; artefacts that have been created (in part) by graphic designers. Even anti-consumerist strategies, such as social design and speculative design, are being appropriated in capitalist societies to serve economic growth. It seems that design is trapped in a system of exploitation and profit, a cycle that fosters inequality and the depletion of natural resources.

This is what CAPS LOCK. How capitalism took over graphic design and how to escape from it (Valiz, 2021) is about. The second book by Dutch designer Ruben Pater, who will give the first lecture of the course organised by the Graphic Elisava master’s programmes.

CAPS LOCK uses clear language and striking visual examples to show how graphic design and capitalism are inextricably linked. The book contains many case studies of designed objects related to capitalist societies and cultures, and also examines how the education and professional practice of (graphic) designers supports the market economy and how design practice is trapped within that same system. All this makes CAPS LOCK an inspiring and resourceful book for design students, educators and visual communicators around the world.

Visual Narratives between Graphic Design and Journalism

Ruben Pater (1977, NL) works between journalism and graphic design. Under the name Untold Stories, Pater creates visual narratives that support solidarity, justice and equality. Pater finds himself a designer at a time when design is the last thing the world needs. Until more ethical approaches present themselves, he designs, writes and teaches.

He is a tutor for the BA in graphic design and the MA in non-linear narrative at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. The Politics of Design (BIS, 2016) is his first book on cultural bias in graphic design. Pater is based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.