Friedrich von Borries

To Project the World - Towards a Political Theory of Design

(German title: Weltentwerfen)
ca. 120 pages
Friedrich von Borries
Foto: Friedrich von Borries
© Thomas Schweigert

Friedrich von Borries, born 1974 in Berlin, is an architect and professor for Theory of Design and Curatorial Practice at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Hamburg.

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Spanish world rights (Metales Pesados)


Years ago, designers drafted things. Today, almost everything is being designed: the climate, processes, refugee camps. But if everything is being designed, it’s time to stop evaluating design solely from aesthetic aspects. What we need, according to Friedrich von Borries, is a political theory of design. People are forced to shape their living conditions. If the possibilities of acting are curtailed in this process, we’re dealing with subjugation. Von Borries makes the case for a creative design (of survival, of society, of self) that withdraws from the totalitarian logic of securitization and imagines new ways of living together as opposed to the lack-of-alternatives ideology.

In To Project the World: Towards a Political Theory of Design, Friedrich von Borries delineates a political theory of design that is not aligned with existing disciplinary boundaries, but instead toward fundamental sociopolitical questions. He opposes a subjugating design to a projective, emancipatory design, subdividing the discipline into four basic categories: survival design, security design, social design, and self-design, which in conjunction conceive of the world as a whole as the object of design processes.


Complete English translation is available


»Designing, Borries says, is s man's emergence from subjugation« Claudius Seidl, recommendation for best work of non-fiction, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung

»Essentially, Borries aims at proving once more why design (shouldn’t solely be evaluated according to aesthetic, functional, and economic criteria, but indeed) possesses relevant socio-political facets as well. This is accomplished in an impressive manner. […] Borries presents the – admittedly extremely tempting – possibility of being dissident while keeping in conformity with the system.« Jens-Christian Rabe, Süddeutsche Zeitung

»Maybe one has to look at this book as an act of productive sabotage […] in order to slip political consciousness to an audience that customarily prefers to talk about design.« Felix Stephan, ZEIT ONLINE

»a very well structured and edited manifesto which, in six parts, forms well-commented theses and enlightening footnotes into a topography of possibilities and effect.« designkritik.dk

»the book succeeds in establishing remarkable interconnections and references.« David Kasparek, der architekt 1/2017

Other publications

RLF/RLF (2013)

Rights available

Klimakapseln/Climate Capsules (2010)

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Arabic world rights (NCT)

Heimatcontainer/Home from Home (2009)

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Brazilian Portuguese rights (Editura Nau)