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The Travelling Academy visits locations in Europe and on its fringes, bringing together local designers and their Dutch counterparts to explore how formal and informal forms of knowledge development can reinforce each other in tackling social and spatial issues. The embassies in each participating country are important partners in this project.

As well as the need for international representation for Dutch designers at the Netherlands’ diplomatic missions abroad, Het Nieuwe Instituut has also observed a growing interest in the exchange of research and knowledge between designers. More specifically, the institute recognises that, in addition to the knowledge developed within universities and art and design schools, relevant knowledge is also produced in informal, underground or radical contexts outside of traditional institutions, by experts and amateurs, by designers with formal training and those who are self-taught, and by people and non-people such as plants, objects and artificial intelligence.

In Search of the Pluriverse

Artist and researcher Sophie Krier and designer Erik Wong have been invited to design the first five editions of the Travelling Academy. This first iteration of the Travelling Academy is entitled In Search of the Pluriverse  and will consist of five stages that will take place in five different areas: the three urban areas of Istanbul, Casablanca and Berlin (as gateways to Central Asia, North Africa and Central Europe), and the two rural areas of the Isle of Mull and Asturias (as places for self-sufficient living and informal learning).

With In Search of the Pluriverse, Krier and Wong have adopted a perspective allied to the ideas put forward by Arturo Escobar in his book Designs for the Pluriverse: Radical Interdependence, Autonomy, and the Making of Worlds (Duke University Press, 2018). For the exchange of knowledge and experience, they have employed the format of the ‘vertical field trip’ (named after Krier’s ongoing artistic research project, School of Verticality) to explore a place and an issue in depth, and Making Radio, a podcast in which the conversation is fuelled by the field trip.

The ‘pluriverse’ can be read as a world that makes room for a variety of worlds in which there is no single dominant perspective. The central question in the first five editions is therefore: how can design contribute to the transition to this multi-perspective world, to ‘a future that has a future’?

Every conversation and encounter within the Travelling Academy builds on the previous one in an effort to create an open curriculum that connects different types of knowledge, people and places.