Otto von Busch is Associate Professor of Integrated Design at Parsons School of Design, holds a PhD in design from the School of Design and Craft at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and was previously Professor of Textiles at Konstfack, Stockholm. He has a background in arts, craft, design, and theory, and his research explores the emergence of a new “hacktivist” designer role in fashion, where the designer engages participants to reform fashion from a phenomenon of dictations and anxiety to a collective experience of empowerment. It is a role that experiments with how fashion can be reverse engineered, hacked, tuned, and shared among many participants as a form of social activism. This is an engaged and collective process of enablement, creative resistance, and DIY practice, where a community share methods and experiences on how to expand action spaces and develop new forms of craftsmanship.

He has published articles on these perspectives on design, fashion, and craft in The Design Journal, Critical Studies in Fashion and Beauty, Organizational Aesthetics, CoDesign Journal, The Journal of Modern Craft, Textile Cloth and Culture, Craft Research, Creative Industries Journal, and Journal for Artistic Research & Fashion Practice. His book chapters have appeared in The Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Product Design (2017), The Routledge Companion to Design Research (2015), as well as The Routledge Handbook of Sustainability and Fashion (2014).

At Bard Graduate Center, he will examine a series of craft objects from the perspective of craft as a form of material cunning and agency, that is, craft as a mode of material power. Craft is a political modus operandi which moves the hands of the maker closer to power, with the possibility to touch and manipulate its workings. Making thus bypasses petitions and discourse, which per definition position governance as “above and beyond” through political representation, to instead suggest the political mode of direct action. He will specifically examine this perspective in relation to the work and legacy of educator and craftsman William Coperthwaite (1930–2013).