Call for Papers. Acting in the Emergency. Design and creative practices in the face of the Covid-19 challenge.

Inmaterial Vol. 6 N.°12 – 2021 Call for Papers

Acting in the Emergency.

Design and creative practices in the face of the Covid-19 challenge.

The Covid-19 pandemic is a phenomenon of extraordinary scope. Not only is it a truly global and collective crisis in an interconnected world, leaving no loopholes unaffected, but it is also, above all, a crisis that permeates directly into each individual, beyond borders, geopolitical, cultural, or economic spaces. Thus, it could be said that we are facing a syndemic, according to the definition proposed by the American anthropologist Merrill Singer (2017): a complex interaction of co-present forms of morbidity, whose adverse effects are reinforced by certain social and environmental factors producing the blurring of the boundaries between the biological, the technological, the social, the political and the cultural (Haraway, 2003, 2016; Fuentes, 2010; Latour, 1993). In this sense, the pandemic is a true hyper-phenomenon, reflecting and magnifying a whole series of inherent processes to the current productive system and the prevailing models of governance, and its effects will undoubtedly have unusual derivations in the collective ways of thinking and governing ourselves.

Design and creative practices focused on functioning as feasible proposals for improving many of the processes and dynamics of social life have today a singular opportunity to gain more public agency and competence. Many of its instruments and methods have served, and continue to serve, to solve material, sanitary, spatial, psycho-social, communicational or cultural emergencies, and emergencies; however, these practices and sensibilities have put on the table the need to do it in a different way than the one usually promoted by the market and the surplus-value. These are practices and approaches that have been advocating for years a different treatment of the guiding principles of design and creation by focusing on sustainability, transmissibility, transversality, cooperation, and care. Thus, the term "design" acquires here, and today an ontological dimension that projects it beyond its traditional disciplinary limits: what needs to be reconceived and articulated are not only spaces and artifacts, but also our modalities of social interaction, our ways of "making community," our relationship with the ecosystems that make life possible, our models of economic and productive development, our political imaginaries. In this sense, the pandemic can be an opportunity for change and transformation in very different areas.

This Call for Papers derives from the research program ACTING IN EMERGENCY. Rethinking design agency during (and after) COVID-19 (2021-2023), produced by the Grup de Recerca en Disseny i Transformació Social (GREDITS) and the Real Academia de España en Roma (RAER), in collaboration with BAU Centre Universitari de Disseny de Barcelona, Università di Enna "Kore" (Sicily), DiARC (Università Federico II, Naples), Istituto Superiore per le Industrie Artistiche (ISIA, Urbino), HANGAR Centre de Producció i Recerca d'Arts Visuals (Barcelona), Grup Art, Arquitectura i Societat Digital (AASD, Universitat de Barcelona), and in association with the magazines Inmaterial (Barcelona), PhD Kore Review (Enna, Sicily), Progetto Grafico (Urbino), Matèria (Barcelona). 

 Official website:

Since its inception, the program has been conceived as a shared space between researchers from various disciplines (design, architecture, art, digital culture, computer engineering, social and human sciences,

philosophy). In this sense, intertwining is understood here as an ontological premise and an epistemological necessity. For this reason, articles and research projects that include different points of view from other disciplinary frontiers are welcome for this Call.

Topics include, but are not limited to: 

  • Socio-techno-natural entanglements caused or magnified by the pandemic, with its risks and yet opportunities, especially for design;
  • Opportunities (and limits) of digital fabrication, maker design, emerging forms of collaborative design, and open-source as ways to address the health crisis;
  • Risks and opportunities in the forms now prevalent in educational environments, both physical and virtual, shaken by the phenomenon of telecommunication;
  • Issues relating to space: blurring of public/private boundaries, online/offline hybridization, emerging forms of control and security in urban space;
  • Issues related to the body: social distancing, new proxemics, emerging forms of biopower;
  • New modes of research, creation, and dissemination in art and design-driven or magnified by the health crisis;
  • Visual communication: ways of narrating the pandemic;
  • Issues related to data-based technologies: algorithmic governance, uses of artificial intelligence for the construction of pandemic narratives, and the (bio)political management of the current crisis.


Deadline for receipt of manuscripts: September 30, 2021.

This issue will be published in December 2021.


  • Originals should be sent to:
  • Data: Full name of the author, a brief academic trajectory, institution to which he/she belongs and position, e-mail address. 
  • Articles should be between 2500 and 7000 words in length depending on the chosen category. 
  • Articles will be accepted in Spanish, Catalan, or English.   
  • Category of the articles: The articles to be considered within the journal   must be unpublished and fall into one of the following categories:   

  5.1. Original Research Articles   

  Includes articles that discuss unpublished research.   

  Maximum number of words: 7,000.   


  5.2.  Literature Reviews   

  It includes contributions that account for the state of the art of a theme.   

  Maximum number of words: 6,000.   


  5.3.  Projects  

  It consists of a critical review of outstanding projects. Those projects that arise from   some novel methodological approaches are especially welcome.   

  Maximum words: 2,500 words.   


  5.4. Book Reviews   

  Maximum words: 2,500 words.   

6. Every article must contain the following parts in its structure: 

  • Title: should describe the content in a clear and precise manner, allowing the reader to easily identify the subject. The title should be provided in both Spanish and English. 
  • Author(s): those who have made a substantial intellectual contribution and assume responsibility for the content of the article should appear as authors. 
  • Institution(s): this section should include the name of the institution(s) or center(s) where the research was carried out, the exact address and the corresponding postal code. When the article is the work of authors from different institutions, a list of their names should be given with the respective institutions, so that the reader can easily establish the corresponding links. 
  • Abstract: this part is intended to guide the reader to identify the basic content of the article quickly and accurately and to determine the relevance of its content. It is recommended not to exceed 250 words. The abstract should be provided in both Spanish and English. 
  • Keywords: at the end of the abstract the author should define 5 keywords, written in Spanish and English. 

7. The texts must be edited in .doc or .odt format, without conversion to PDF or other formats, in DIN A4 size, with margins of 3 cm. on each side and with pages numbered consecutively in the lower right margin (folio). Arial font should be used, at a size of 12 points, with 1.5 line spacing, justified on both sides and without indentation.

Immaterial is a publication dedicated to examining design and design research issues and question the effects of design practice critically and scientifically. It welcomes original texts, high-quality papers that address conceptual, theoretical, methodological, and practical aspects of design, and papers that will enhance the body of design knowledge that unites the different disciplines.