As a methodology and critical research practice with the potential to modify existing politics, the Design of Experiences takes route into the field of Critical Design and exists at the nexus of other disciplines such as theater, music, film, linguistics and political philosophy. The following manifesto intent to introduce some of the key research focus of the Design of Experiences. It falls into two parts; status, which introduces the context in which this manifesto exists in the design discourse and the manifesto itself that summarises the key ideas of the Design of Experiences.

a) Status
More than ever, designed objects are seen as constituent artefacts, embedded in a contextual environment with its social, technological and institutionalised layers. At the same time, the boundaries between products, services, interiors, architecture, infrastructure, political and global systems are blurring. In their complexity, these interfaces and systems of exchange have become a central part of our design experience. They set the scene for the narratives of human activity to unfold and evolve with particular events. These experienced events are called products. Design has been opening its doors to these experiences – whether from the speculative end of the spectrum with fictions, stories and scenarios; or on the applied end of the spectrum, which concerns authentic scripted reality of personas, usability simulations and narratives of design testing.

In this journey, we have established a role as a Designer of Experiences, a job title that was created and defined as oscillating across the axes of Critical Design, theatrical practices, existential philosophy and the performance of politics. The Design of Experiences encourages a political design practice. It extends the field of design in scale, scope and modes of engagement into the territory of mythology, ethnography, philosophy and experiences. Participants in the production of the Design of Experiences are invited to observe, collect, examine and extrapolate the mundane through the Design of Experiences. They are required to zoom in and out of different scales of context and to consider critically the implications of their roles in relation to their environment. Indeed, the designer of the Design of Experiences is encouraged to challenge the rules of design by developing a performative, political, embodied and Critical Design practice.

As such, the Design of Experiences is about crafting tangible scenarios relevant to and representative of the institution and its workers’ topical agendas. Final outcomes might be, but are not limited to: performative critical products, films and experiences shaped as events, scenarios or products embedded in the context of the built environment or in the context of the institution. The Design of Experiences oscillates between the human condition and the human factor. We believe that the role of the Designer of Experiences, as a maker, should be extended to the practice of the mythologist, ethnographer and performer and should assume a role as a key agent in the context of governmental, political, scientific and technological institutions.

To the question is the Design of Experiences intended to design experiences for experience’s sake, or is it intended to reveal power structures through performance and/or documentary film, the answer is that, it aims to do both. Indeed, it is an experimental practice that allows for experimental actions to take place in the institution. But it is also a practice that intends to demonstrate and reveal existing power structures in order to modify them. Experimental actions can develop towards such a result or be reworked to bring the change and power shift initially intended to the community and the institution. Trial and error are a part of the process, just like any theatrical practices which require rehearsals or design practices which require multiple iterations in the development of a product.

The Design of Experiences is, in sum, a performative, critical, experiential and event-based political design practice. As such, the following manifesto highlights five areas of interest: i) Research practice, ii) The performance of politics, iii) Existential attitude, iv) Design events and performance as experiences and v) Activating the dreamers of the day.

b) Manifesto
i) Research practice
The Design of Experiences is a research practice that proposes to deconstruct hierarchies in institutions. It questions hierarchies’ context, network and systems. It disassembles the institution, industrialisation processes, theatrical practices and politics and it designs functions to edit, choreograph and build experiences and experimental actions. To develop the Design of Experiences means to go on site into real contexts of use and production; first as ethnographer, second as mythologist and finally as performer, an active instigator of the performance of politics and social actions. The Design of Experiences is a research practice that places a strong emphasis on the tangibility of the experience in revealing power structures. It produces original content, new metalanguages to trigger reactions and social change. It moves from the purely technical and aesthetic functionality of a prototyped product towards the experiential, the existential, the human performance and the mundane. It thinks in terms of manifested, political experiences and physical products beyond the sole use of the written word, the diagram and the image. In this research, the process is documented by distinguishing, manifesting and utilising theatrical practices and coercive systems within the institution. This research practice enables the performance of politics.

ii) The performance of politics
The Designer of Experiences is unravelling labour structures in institutions and shifting power. We aim for social action through the use of critical thinking, Critical Design, theatrical practices, existential philosophy and experimental actions. In this, the Design of Experiences is politically loud and as such, the Designer of Experiences is an agent of change and an active researcher. The active researcher performs politics using carefully crafted and produced experiences, sets, props and characters. The performance of politics exists in its challenge to hierarchies and the status quo, making use of visceral theatrical practices and staging such as the Theatre of Cruelty. Everything is questioned and power structures are modified through, and allow for, the taking place of poetics and critical thinking. Decision making is imposed on Animal Laborans and supports empowerment of the workforce through engineered situations and experiences. Politics is manufactured via the existential attitude.

iii) The existential attitude
It questions access to design and to scientific, academic and political knowledge. It works with amateurs and experts so as to create access for people to experience and engage within. It designs with an existential attitude to democratise the experience. Our work aim to challenge power structures by initiating and engineering events. It rejects absurdity and boredom in the everyday and responds to it with passion, thrill and free will, thereby generating new forms of individual and social imaginings and actions. We work both with the public and stakeholders in institutions. We produce critical experiential outcomes that, in turn, allow for social actions to take place.

iv) Design events and performance as experiences
Designers of Experiences believe that design should be embedded in a physical experience, something that is imprinted on to your memory: similar to seeing a painting and remembering the colour of it. We believe in wonders and experimentations with other disciplines and their mode of representations. Meanwhile, experimental actions take account for everything that happens in the mundane and which score the everyday as potential materials for a programmed chaos; this we translate through the experience. We think that design can generate events, challenge power structures, incite riots and demonstrations through performance. We believe that research, through design and politics, needs to provide this experience in order to activate Animal Laborans, the dreamers of the day.

v) Activating the dreamers of the day
As a result of our investigations, we have determined that Animal Laborans dream louder than Homo Faber in public institutions. What the Design of Experiences can achieve is to allow Animal Laborans to begin to act out their critical ambitions for the institution. As such the Design of Experiences is involved with the narration of the stories of the workforce, who think as social and active dreamers: the manufacturers, the Animal Laborans. we are working with and for them to better insure that we, as a society, remain away from what Arendt called the ‘Alienation of Earth’ (Arendt, 1957).
The Design of Experiences establishes spaces for discord and humanity in the institution.