Designing Everyday Life

Designing Everyday Life

Can design progress from the production of objects and services for everyday life into the production of life itself? This illustrated reader explores what design can be in our contemporary world.



Title Information

Edited by Jan Boelen, Z33 and Vera Sacchetti

1st edition

, 2014


544 pages, 1017 color and 184 b/w illustrations and graphics

17 x 24 cm

ISBN 978-3-906027-67-8

In cooperation with Museum of Architecture and Design MAO, Ljubljana


BIO 50, the 24th edition of the Biennial of Design in Ljubljana was taking place in September to December 2014 at the Slovenian capital’s Museum of Architecture. BIO is one of the longest-standing regular design events, founded in 1964. It has moved recently from an awards-based competition to an experimental process that rewards collaboration. Within the framework of BIO 50, around 120 international designers and multidisciplinary agents have engaged in a six-month collaborative effort devising possible futures for design. Guided by a group of mentors, eleven teams tackled each a specific topic about how design affects and determines our life and environment.

This new book compiles notes, essays, and interviews, along with rich visual material. It aggregates the manifold dimensions of each team’s collaborative process, and illuminates strategies and roles for design in a contemporary world. Designing Everyday Life also features reflections on BIO as a meeting point for design between East and West in Central Europe, and conversations with design critic Alice Rawsthorn, industrial designers Konstantin Grcic and Saša J. Mächtig, and others.


Topics covered by BIO 50:
Affordable Living
Knowing Food
Public Water, Public Space
Walking the City
Hidden Crafts
The Fashion System
Hacking Households
Engine Blocks
Observing Space
Designing Life

Authors & Editors

Jan Boelen

 is a product designer and chief curator of BIO 50. He is artistic director of Z33 House for Contemporary Art in Hasselt and head of the Master Department Social Design at the Design Academy Eindhoven.

David Crowley

Konstantin Grcic

Liesbeth Huybrechts

Thomas Lommée

Saša J. Mächtig

Justin McGuirk

Chantal Mouffe

Cvetka Požar

Alice Rawsthorn

Vera Sacchetti

 is a design writer and critic, contributing to journals and magazines including Domus, Disegno, Change Observer, The New City Reader, and Frame. She has also been curator of the program “Towards a New Avant-Garde” at this year’s 14th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennial.

Tamar Shafrir

Slavoj Žižek


"Rather than a series of product shots – typical of some other biennials – the catalogue has a scrapbook aesthetic that is replete with sketches, email exchanges, Facebook posts and photographs from field trips. It is an honest and meticulous documentation of the processes integral to the development of each project over the six month period." Anya Lawrence,


"While the exhibition offers much to stimulate visitors, Boelen’s particular stroke of genius is Designing Everyday Life, the biennial’s companion text. Edited by design writer, Vera Sacchetti, the 534-page text reveals the glorious mess behind the exhibition’s cleanliness. Drawings, prototypes and even posts from Facebook pages illuminate how these processes of research, experimentation and collaboration worked. It’s a fascinating read." Crystal Bennes, Icon


"By renouncing "iconic" design and focussing on real urgencies in the world, for which viable alternatives were sought and (sometimes) found, BIO 50 sparks the energy that is currently missing in most of the international design fairs. Moreover, the ambitions have landed in a thought-provoking catalogue, which will last as an optimist testimony of new ways of thinking, new ways of working, and new ways of presenting. The BIO 50 biennial proves that design fairs can reclaim the invigorating role they once played, by facing the real urgencies of the world and showing the surprising and on-going potential design has to offer." Louise Shouwenberg, Dezeen