Libby Leshgold Gallery

Join us at READ Books for the launch of Design Against Design: Cause and Consequence of a Dissident Graphic Practice by Kevin Yuen Kit Lo. Lo will present his book in conversation with writer Jaleh Mansoor.

Design Against Design argues for the urgent necessity of critical engagement and political resistance through graphic practice. It draws on insights from the practice of LOKI, a small graphic design studio committed to working with social movements towards radical political change. With con­versational interviews, personal and critical essays, and a wide-ranging selection of graphic works, this book unravels the real-world relationships, motivations and contradictions involved in a socially engaged design practice.

Both a passionate indictment of the discipline of graphic design, and a utopian love letter to its radical potential, Kevin Yuen Kit Lo’s collection of almost confessional, candid essays challenge the status quo of design writing. Design Against Design demands that we think more intimately about the politics of visual culture under contemporary capitalism and, importantly, how we can act against it.

Design Against Design is organized around four key themes: Critique presents a political-economic analysis of graphic design in relationship to capitalism and considers practical ways to resist it. Practice looks critically at how designers work towards (and sometimes against) social change within both a professional studio context and alongside social movements. Materiality focuses on the craft of graphic design; on language and typography, legibility, and illegibility, on the acts of speaking and making. Autonomy considers the emotional and relational aspects of graphic design, understanding that interdependence is intricately bound to any possibility for self-determination within and beyond design.

Featuring interviews with Philippe and Nancy Vermes, Sandy Kaltenborn, Kaie Kellough, Chadi Marouf and Sabine Friesinger, Sarah Auches, and Jenn Clamen.

Kevin Yuen Kit Lo is Assistant Professor of Communication Design and Visual Culture in the Department of Design and Computation Arts. He works at the intersections of graphic design, cultural production, and social change with a research focus on publication practices and social movements. His research is invested in exploring the tensions between material and relational studies of design as a means of fostering greater social and political autonomy.

Kevin founded the graphic design studio LOKI in 2014, working alongside community organizations, non-profits, cultural and educational institutions, unions, artists, researchers and activist groups, as part of broader movements for social change. The studio has worked on campaigns to stop racial profiling, designed protest graphics for anti-racist and anti-colonial social justice movements, created online platforms for critical journalism and supported the cultural production of marginalized writers and artists through the design of publications, exhibitions, and collaborative works.

Jaleh Mansoor is a writer and an associate professor of Art History at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, where she teaches modern and contemporary art history with an emphasis on Post WWII European Art. Her areas of interest, in addition to art and its histories, include Materialist Formalism, Marxist Feminism, Frankfurt School Theory and Communization Theory. Mansoor’s first monographic book, Marshall Plan Modernism: Italian Postwar Abstraction and the Beginnings of Autonomia was published by Duke UP in 2016. She has written extensively for various journals, magazines and art institutions. She co-edited an anthology of essays addressing Jacques Rancière’s articulations of politics and aesthetics entitled Communities of Sense: Rethinking Aesthetics and Politics (Duke UP, 2010).

Her current primary project, titled after Picabia’s eponymous homage to a passage in Marx’s Philosophic and Economic Manuscripts of 1844, is Universal Prostitution: A Counter History of Abstraction Crossing Modernism, 1888-2008, is forthcoming in April 2025 from Duke University Press. It traces the historical and structural entwinement of aesthetic and real (or concrete) abstraction — defined as the extraction of labor power valorized by transactional exchange on the market — over 20th C art to offer a comprehensive account of the political economic forces that motivated modernist abstraction and the advent of post-humanism.

 

artwork

Kevin Kit Yuen Lo