Otto von Busch


Otto von Busch is a post-doctoral researcher at Business & Design Lab, School of Design and Craft, University of Gothenburg and Assistant Professor at Parsons The New School for Design. He took his PhD in 2008 with the thesis "Fashion-able: Hacktivism and Engaged Fashion Design" which later won the swedish design faculty research prize. He also has a design and artistic career and acts as visiting fellow at London College of Fashion since 2008. He has authored a number of books and artistic research projects on "hacktivism" and fashion and has been invited to speak on this subject at the Royal Society of the Arts in London.


research expositions

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Exposition: Taking the Book Apart (01/01/2011) by Sarah Alford
Otto von Busch 21/11/2011 at 22:07

The author merges theory and practice in a persuasive manner, intersecting craft, intervention/performance with historical research and activism. This approach is refreshing and much needed in the field of craft research and the author’s practice and interpretations help frame the politics of craft in an interdisciplinary way.


Politically engaged craft and popular ‘craftivism’ is a field which needs to highlight its roots, so the author’s endeavour is important and points a vista for further research. The outcomes show results which will contribute to the field. However, the exposition and writing would be improved by some wider references and discussion concerning the notions of craft and politics within both the Socialist camp as well as Arts and Crafts movement and the heritage of craft politics in general, especially since some of their agendas were conflicting. Ruskin and Morris (being shortly mentioned), Kropotkin and A.R. Orage (to name some important voices of the time) had taken very different stances concerning a socialism of craftsmen vs socialism of proletarian workers, which deeply affected their perspectives on the role of craft in socialist utopianism. Several texts in The Journal of Modern Craft and Journal of Design History, as well as some of the texts in Glenn Adamson’s The Craft Reader touch upon this and references to that research could vastly contribute to the author’s discussion.


The research could be strengthened by a wider reference to previous research, both from the academic disciplines of art/craft historians and history of ideas and politics (as mentioned earlier), but also by addressing artistic practices and interventions which have been dealing with similar issues. Just as any academic research needs to be situated within a tradition of research, also the author’s artistic research would benefit from such contextualization.


Navigating the exposition and following the tracks is a pleasure. The layers of images and text give appropriate form to the work. The well-written text and mix of historical documents, interventions, patterns, and artwork adds to the reader’s journey through the work.