Unfinished Business Lecture Series - Design as Derivative


The Unfinished Lecture is a monthly event hosted by the Strategic Innovation Lab at OCAD and sponsored by Torch Partnership. Part of the Unfinished Business initiative, the lectures are intended to generate an open conversation about strategic innovation in the business and design of commercial enterprises and public organizations.



What implications does the current global economic crisis have for Design? For Gong Szeto the answers lie in understanding how design has evolved over the last 100 years in parallel with capitalism. We are in the midst of a global economic crisis, one whose contours are barely understood, even by today’s leading minds. This crisis reveals the very underpinnings of how our world works, and it is the story of finance (a classic tragic comedy) and its colossal role in the development of modern society.

Design, the myriad ways it is practiced and consumed, owes its very existence to the thriving of a capitalist political economy. Design cannot claim primacy in this system, but is, instead, a shadow or derivative of the priorities of supply-side and demand-side economics.

Billionaire Warren Buffett has called financial derivatives “weapons of mass destruction.”. Gong Szeto will demonstrate the powerful properties and dynamics of derivatives in financial world, and apply this framework to understanding Design’s origins and future possibilities. He will try to make the case that Design’s complex derivative nature, if better understood, can be combined with the powerful emerging attributes of massively shared social web platforms, and proactively insinuated in a (post) capitalist political economy, taking shape as “weapons of mass possibility.”



GongGong Szeto is the Principal of Fury, Inc., a new strategic design consultancy who charter is to engage in the complex interrelated problem spaces of politics, economy, technology and science

Gong Szeto recently served as the Director of Design and Product Design at PEAK6 Investments, LP, a proprietary equity options trading firm, hedge fund, and new financial services business incubator based in Chicago. He recently designed OptionsHouse, a next-generation retail equity options brokerage, garnering top in category in design and usability in Barron's in 2008 and 2009.

He was formerly Chief Creative Officer of publicly traded Rare Medium, Inc. and Principal at New York-based i/o 360 digital design, inc. Gong has lectured world-wide, and is a recipient of numerous awards from The Art Director's Club, American Center of Design, Net Tech, CASIE, and was included in I.D. Magazine's ID40 Top 40 Designers in the U.S. and Europe in 1996. He has work in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt Museum.

He holds a U.S. Patent in on-demand interactive advertising in digital television, co-invented with Sony Corporation of America. He has served on the National Boards of the AIGA and the Van Alen Institute for Public Architecture. He received a B.Arch ('91) in Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture and Planning, and has studied Business, Finance, Economics, and Intellectual Property Law at NYU Stern School of Management Extension School, and Harvard Business School Executive Education Program

Gong lives in Santa Fe, NM with his wife Bonnie Schwartz, daughter Willow Lin, dogs Waylon and Bailey, and horse Rummy. His blog is at http://www.gongszeto.com.

On the Web

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