There are two ways of saying ‘It’s about time’. In a literal sense, almost everything is about time. Time is an eternal issue. But as a manner of speech, the phrase implies urgency: ‘It’s about time we do something about it’.

ExperimentaDesign proposes to combine these two meanings of our 2009 theme into a program: to think about the way we use time in design.

The urgency of this is obvious. On the one hand there seems to be very little time to address the pressing issues of a world that is in grave economic and environmental peril. On the other, we should think about how we are ‘designing time’ in the first place. Time has acquired a different role in our lives and in design than it had for centuries; time itself has become a finite resource in ever accelerating information processes, where data from a second ago look ancient.

In today’s design and production cycles, time is the enemy: it has to be beaten. Time is money in a very limited sense: a cost factor. We ‘spend’ time – can we ‘earn’ time as well?

ExperimentaDesign Lisboa 2009 will look at the various ways in which time plays a role in design and how contemporary creative practices can address shifting notions of time and urgency.

How can designers and creative agents reconcile the accelerating speed of life with the need for reflection? Can we be fast and slow at the same time? Can we use the networked world to distribute time? Can we develop a new notion of time based design?

And how can design deal with the social dimensions of time? Social processes are fast becoming a main ingredient in product development, from open-source R&D to community-based production and project implementation. Keywords here are intimately connected to notions of time and urgency: improvisation, networking, sharing, parallel development.

Time is of the essence in design as in life. ExperimentaDesign Lisboa 2009 will look at time as material, as resource and as challenge: time to think, time to collaborate, time to make, time to reflect. It’s all about time.