Centre for Aesthetics in Practice
community landscapes design
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Who we are

The Centre for Aesthetics in Practice is a research, training and design unit of the Department of Philosophy History and Cultural Heritage of the University of Trento. It pursues its activities with a network of partners and researchers all over Europe and beyond (India, Japan, etc.). The Laboratory produces studies, organizes seminars and training workshops, and last but not least, it engages in design, inspired by “extended design” ideas and experience as well as by aesthetics in practice. The Centre believes that there is a need today for an original type of humanities-based research that includes notions of design as well. Such brand of research can perceive the qualitative, interactional and concrete character of what constitutes a culture. Many international organizations, including economic ones, increasingly focus their attention on the qualitative, practical and expressive character of culture. In fact, while it is true that knowledge is defined through technologies and procedures, it is primarily connected to a search for a sense of humanity, where the “success” of communities is measured by the production of civic assets and achievements. The Centre work group, which includes philosophers and aesthetics experts, designers, geographers, cinema specialists, sociologists, theologians and experts in cultural, linguistic and tourism policies, starts from these assumptions. As a group, it has already accumulated quite a bit of experience: it has organized training workshops and design and fundraising activities for the minority language communities within Italy, for some cities in Val di Noto (Sicily) and for the network of historically significant Russian cities. The Centre also collaborates in restoration projects for important, historical homes in Italy and in Germany. For some years now, its main activities revolve around tourism design, qualitative analysis of civic settings and communities of practice in general.

In brief, the Centre for Aesthetics in Practice research activities address issues of 1) community practices, 2) “expanded design” and aesthetics, 3) producing and staging meaning, including also designing activities aimed at regenerating communities, locations and contexts.

As a result, the Centre for Aesthetics in Practice activities always rest on:
• the idea that every culture has an aesthetic substance (both in an expressive and narrative sense) a kind of “mise en practice”;
• a deep interest for different communities of practices and design capacities of objects and technologies;
• an awareness of the immaterial yet concrete character of cultures;
• renewed attention for the interaction between the “pluralistic” content and the “singular” content of cultures;
• a deep knowledge of theories and experiences that have “ripened” in the context of “extended design”;
• use of qualitative, research and design strategies, which may also be derived from the arts (cinema, photography, set design, rhetoric, new media);
• a critique of anthropological deconstruction (especially philosophical anthropology and theology);
• regeneration as the central idea;
• broad expertise in the theory and practice of cultural policies in Europe;
• starting from a network framework that integrates local and transnational profiles;
• the belief that both designers and administrators must be guided by a design culture in which they have been trained;
• the participation of communities that are not specialized in design practices.