Designing Economic Cultures is a research project that sets out to investigate the relationship between socio-economic precarity and the production of socially and politically engaged design projects.

The fundamental question the project poses is:
how can designers, who through their work want to question and challenge the prevalent economic system, gain a satisfying degree of social and economic security without having to submit themselves to the commercial pressures of the market?  Read more ›

Construction site for non-affirmative practice

Constructive Dismantling

My Castle Is Your Castle

Precarity Pilot


Together with Caterina Giuliani we started to work on Precarity Pilot a follow up project to Designers’ Inquiry in which many of the aspects around precarious work and de-precarisation developed through this research project are disseminated.



Bianca passed the viva with Doina Petrescu (Architecture, Sheffield) and Matthew Fuller (Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths).
No corrections – which means time to think about dissemination!

Thesis bound and handed-in for viva


Just in time before the fellowship at Goldsmiths runs out, the thesis is bound and ready to be handed-in for the viva.

New Cross Commoners


To see the activities currently organised with the New Cross Commoners to investigate and experiment with practices of commoning, see: newxcommoners.wordpress.com

Construction site new web site


The Construction site for non-affirmative practice has a brand new website, which is being updated much more often than D.E.C.



Commons & Commoning; Dheisheh’s Common Green


To have a look at the works produced while at Campus in Camps please visit the following links:

Commons & Commoning

Dheisheh’s Common Green




For an up-to-date list of activities and projects the Construction site organised after the residency in Milan, please visit pratichenonaffermative.net.

European I-Pros: A study

Stéphane Rapelli released a study on the socio-demographic characterisation of I-Pros across Europe. I-Pros are defined as self-employed workers, without employees, who are engaged in an activity which does not belong to the farming, craft or retail sectors. They engage in activities of intellectual nature and/or which come under the service sector.

The study shows that the number of I-Pros has grown by 82% between 2000 and 2011, with the biggest concentration of I-Pros in Italy (1,688,894), the UK (1,608,436) and Germany (1,533,050).

For more details see the study itself: EFIP report English

The Aftermath Project – life beyond the crisis

A research project initiated by Manuel Castells.

“In this crisis, some people are trying to go back and other people are trying to discover what the future could be. What doesn’t work anymore is the present, for anyone. That’s why it’s Aftermath Time.”
Manuel Castells

The Aftermath Project is an expanding database for ideas, texts, videos and images relating to the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis. It invites people to provide their perspective on life beyond the crisis and brings together four video documentaries and twelve audio interviews produced in the framework of Aftermath Network, a research program on the social consequences of the crisis.

Go to the website

At Campus in Camps


Until the beginning of December we will be working as “project activators” at Campus in Camps. This will give us the chance to think and work through our research on economic cultures in a complex context.

With the support of the project DE.MO./MOVIN’UP 2012

Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali
Direzione Generale per il paesaggio, le belle arti, l’architettura e l’arte contemporanea
with the participation of Direzione Generale per lo Spettacolo dal Vivo

GAI – Associazione per il Circuito dei Giovani Artisti Italiani

Student debt in the U.S.

In the United States, two-thirds of college graduates leave school with student loan debt, an average of $25,000 each. Debt rates have increased 500 percent since 1999, and there are more and more of us across the country facing six-figure loans who will make monthly payments for the rest of our lives.
Indeed, the debt explosion has brought students and families to a grim milestone: on April 25, 2012, total student debt in the US will surpass one trillion dollars.


PWB ethics code

The ethics code of the Precarious Workers Brigade lays out some basic principles according to which the group structures its work. Inspiring!


Publication: Conversations March 2011-February 2012


We included the first 9 conversations (CUP, Conway + Young, Islington Mill, Goldex Poldex, Feral Trade, Emma Hostel, Zoe Romano, image-shift and The Nonformal University of Teremiski) in a small publication, which is part of the exhibition Panorama 4 (16.06-30.09.2012, Franzensfeste-Fortezza). Visitors can assemble their publication and take it away.

Download the publication (zip, 2,1 Mb)

At Casco


The Construction site for non-affirmative practice has been invited by Casco to give a presentation on the 5th June at 7pm within the current exhibition “I Can’t Work Like This”.

‘activity spheres’

We just finished drawing this representation of the 7 ‘activity spheres’ within the evolutionary trajectory of Capitalism, which David Harvey identifies and describes in The Enigma of Capital. Click on the image to open it as a pdf.

Designers’ Inquiry & Cantieroteca

From the 13th to the 22nd April 2012, During the Salone del Mobile in Milan, we gathered again at Careof for 10 days in order to build up the Cantieroteca and to launch Designers’ Inquiry.

Feminism and Graphic Design

This data visualisation by Sara de Bondt and Merel van der Berg says it all about the gender divisions within graphic design today.

See more on their blog: Feminism and Graphic Design

Designers’ Inquiry on-line until the 20th June 2012 – please fill in the questionnaire


Designers’ Inquiry, a survey by the Construction site for non-affirmative practice on the socio-economic condition of designers today is on-line. Check the link for details. Or go directly to the on-line survey in English or Italian. It takes about 15-20 minutes.

Spread it widely please.

Cantieroteca is open


Cantieroteca, the archive of the Construction site for non-affirmative practice, is now open. Check the link for details.

Self-published materials wanted


Archivio del Cantiere
a project by Construction site for non-affirmative practice
in collaboration with Careof DOCVA

During this year’s Salone del Mobile (Milan, 17-22 April 2012), the collective Construction site for non-affirmative practice inaugurates the project “Archivio del Cantiere” (archive of the construction site) at – and in collaboration with – Careof, a non profit organization for the promotion of contemporary artistic research situated at the Fabbrica del Vapore in Milan.

Read on…

Workers’ collectives in Berlin

The designers of Image-Shift produced a set of playing cards that introduces a series of collectives working in Berlin. The game is called “Das Richtige im Falschen” (The right inside the wrong).

Here is a list of all the collectives presented:

Hinkelsteindruck (print and layout)
Oktoberdruck (printing)

Read on…

Bust your boss!

Bust your boss*!
During a negotiation about work you have the right,
NOT to remain silent about money.
NOT to subsidise the production from your own pocket.
NOT accept a change of agreed conditions without a renegotiation.
NOT to take this job on the promise of a future!

Read on…

Designing and Transforming Capitalism – conference, Aarhus (DK), 9.2.2012

Bianca Elzenbaumer and Caterina Giuliani participated in the two-day conference Designing and Transforming Capitalism in Aarhus (DK). What follows is the abstract of their presentation:

Construction site for non-affirmative practice: building collective support structures for critically-engaged designers

As designers struggle with precarious labour conditions and an uncertain future, they are also re-evaluating their role in society as creative practitioners. Designers are increasingly questioning the ambitions of a commercial design career in the context of the recent economic crisis, while also expressing concerns that social and environmental problems have reached a critical threshold.
Read on…

Friday Session – 24.02.2012, 7pm, at public works


Next Friday, Bianca will be talking about Designing Economic Cultures at public works’ studio, during one of their beloved Friday Sessions. The evening, titled “Sunday soup and other ways to feed culture”, is organised and curated by Matilde Martinetti, who is currently collaborating with public works.

Friday 24 February, 7pm
public works studio
1-5 Vyner Street
London E2

Designing and Transforming Capitalism


Tomorrow Bianca Elzenbaumer and Caterina Giuliani will give a talk at the Designing and Transforming Capitalism conference at Aarhus University (DK) titled “Construction site for non-affirmative practice: building collective support structures for critically-engaged designers”.

Planned obsolescence

Very insightful documentary about planned obsolescence.

Basic income guarantee – referdendum CH

On the 12th of April 2012, in Switzerland a referendum will be started for introducing a guaranteed basic income. The guaranteed basic income would allow all people living in Switzerland to lead a dignified life. It would be paid to everyone independently of their needs and without need of returning a service.


List of organised activities

Here a list of all the activities that were organised by the Construction site at Careof in Milan.

Group micropolitics – workshop with Valeria Graziano, Bolzano (IT), 20.12.2011

As the group of people involved in the Construction site was already in Bolzano for the roundtable discussion Werstattgespräche, we took the opportunity to organise a workshop with Valeria Graziano to reflect on the micropolitics, challenges, opportunities and visions of our forming collective.

Read on…

Werkstattgespräche – Faculty of Design and Art, Free University of Bolzano-Bozen, 19.12.2011

Giorgio Camuffo invited the Construction site for non-affirmative practice to host a roundtable discussion at the Faculty of Design and Art of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano as part of the series Werkstattgespräche.

Read on…

Affordable housing – a definition

“The (US) government defines affordable housing as housing that costs no more than 30% of your income.”

Centre for Urban Pedagogy, The envisioning development toolkit

Who is getting your earnings?

Seen at the Tent City University, London, December 2011.

Link to the chart on-line.



Giorgio Camuffo invited the Construction site for non-affirmative practice to give a talk on the 19th December at the Faculty of Design and Art of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano in Italy as part of the series Werkstattgespräche.

Poster by Stefano Capodieci / illustration inspired by J.K. Gibson-Graham

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – extract

Article 6

1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right to work, which includes the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts, and will take appropriate steps to safeguard this right.

2. The steps to be taken by a State Party to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include technical and vocational guidance and training programmes, policies and techniques to achieve steady economic, social and cultural development and full and productive employment under conditions safeguarding fundamental political and economic freedoms to the individual.

Read on…



On the 13th December at 4pm the Construction site for non-affirmative practice will give a short lecture at Stefano Maffei’s class Factory@everywhere at the Politecnico di Milano.

Capitalism and the social imaginary – seminar with Hervé Baron

In this series of encounters, run by the economic researcher Hervé Baron, we intend to propose an argument that is relatively unknown to the Italian public: the issue of the social imaginary. The argumentation will range from the general to the particular: after an initial introduction to the topic, we will see why the studies of the imaginary have developed mostly in France around Cornelius Castoriadis.

Read on…

Income poverty

According to a recently published figure by the Carrotworkers’ Collective in their Counter-Internship Guide, cultural workers earn 60% less than the national median of all UK employees. Moreover, 75% of cultural sector employees have no pension.

Calculation of income poverty

The calculation of the income poverty threshold is generally based on the average national income. If your income is below 60% of the average national income, then you are considered below the poverty line.

Here a few samples of average incomes in Europe:

Germany (2007): €27,083 (60% = €16,249.8)

Italy (2008): €18,873 (60% = €11,323.8)

United Kingdom (2004-2005): £22,800 (60% = £13,680)

The Top 50 of the 147 Superconnected Companies

An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.

1. Barclays plc
2. Capital Group Companies Inc
3. FMR Corporation
4. AXA
5. State Street Corporation
6. JP Morgan Chase & Co
7. Legal & General Group plc
8. Vanguard Group Inc
10. Merrill Lynch & Co Inc

Read on…


#Milanuncut was a discussion kicked off by writers Marcus Fairs and Max Fraser who’d both heard and reported the anonymous grumblings of young designers at the level of work and payment they got for producing the prototypes that were being hyped during the festival. So with this tenuous link; I can post some images of designs around a cube whilst doing the maths to see what a young designer can hope to gain from going into production.

Read on…

RUN RUN RUN RUN – exhibition and lectures

Poster by Caterina Giuliani and Melissa Destino

Giovanna Zanghellini and Caterina Giuliani – two designers participating in the Construction site for non-affirmative practice – proposed RUN RUN RUN RUN, a one-week initiative that intended to analyse and question the phenomenon of contemporary socio-economic precarity. During this initiative we heard interventions by San Precario, the Carrotworkers’ Collective and Serpica Naro.

Read on…

San Precario, an introduction

San Precario is the patron saint of the precarious. San Precario is irreverent, mocking and offensive. San Precario is a creation of the precarious intelligence, a free and independent expression that does not refer to any party or union.

Read on…

Serpica Naro, an introduction

Serpica Naro is a ficticious fashion meta-brand that has been launched during the 2005 Milan Fashion Week. Serpica Naro is the anagram of San Precario. Today, Serpica Naro is licensed under the Creative Commons and the collective around it is working towards dismantling the conventional fashion industry with its exploitation of humans and nature.

Read on…

Carrotworkers’ Collective, an introduction

Two members of the Carrotworkers’ Collective, a London-based group of ex-interns, students, researchers and cultural workers, who regularly meet to think together around the conditions of free labour in contemporary societies, introduced us to their work and followed up the discussion with a workshop on the next day.

Read on…

A tavola con… – conversations over lunch with Alberto Bassi, Antonella Bulegato, Giovanni Anceschi, Stefano Maffei

During this series of informal encounters, organised by AUT and Filiera in the context of the project Quisai, different design historians, design theorists and design tutors joined the Construction site for informal discussions over lunch around the interactions between design and production in Italy.

Read on…

Cultural associations – seminar with Marta Bianchi

Marta Bianchi, project organiser at Careof, whose field of expertise is cultural management, gave us an extensive overview of the legal options for setting up a cultural association in Italy. It came out that in Italy, the new model of the “Association for Social Promotion” could actually be and interesting one for groups who intend to work mainly on non-commercial projects and to apply for public funding.

We would like to thank Marta for taking us through all these legal things.

VAT and surroundings – seminar with Dario Banfi

Dario Banfi, member of ACTA (Associazione Consulenti Terziario Avvanzato), gave us an introduction to the tax regulations for freelance workers in Italy.

Read on…

Made in Italy (behind the scene) – infographic performance by Isacco Chiaf

As a conclusion to our stay in Milan, Isacco Chiaf performed his piece Made in Italy (behind the scene), which he had been expanding and improving during the two months at Careof.

Read on…

Beat capitalism with a carrot – with Tomek Sikora

In this seminar Tomek from the Warsaw Food Cooperative introduced us to the way their informal group organises around the purchase and distribution of food.

Read on…

DIY cultural practices in Moldova before and after 1989 – seminar with Teodor Ajder

Moldovan artist and writer Teodor Ajder introduced us to a number of cultural DIY initiatives that had taken form in the satellite states of the Soviet Union, with a special focus on Moldova.

Read on…

DIY culture and autonomy in the everyday before and after 1989 – seminar with Adrian Zandberg

Adrian Zandberg, an expert of the cooperative movement and member of the Warsaw Food Cooperative, introduced us to the roots of cooperatives in Poland and discussed what is still existing on the ground today.

Read on…

The relation to public space in Poland – seminar with Piotr Juskowiak and Jakub Szczesny

During this seminar we investigated peoples’ relation to public space in Poland. Together with our invited guests Piotr Juskowiak (human geographer) and Jakub Szczesny (architect) on one hand we explored the theoretical framework that surrounds many of the issues related to public space and on the other hand we learned about a number of projects initiated by architect Jakub Szczesny that suggest different ways of engagement with public space.

Read on…