Dr. Frederick (Fred) van Amstel (he/him/his) is a tenured Associate Professor of Graphic Design/Design & Visual Communications. Dr. Van Amstel's research and education address contradictions in design: why and how design projects face dilemmas, trade-offs, and complexity. In recent years, the contradiction of oppression climbed to the top of his research agenda, mainly due to the ascension of far-right extremism.
From 2019 to 2023, Frederick held the position of Assistant Professor at UTFPR, where he cofounded the Design & Oppression network and its local hub at UTFPR: the Laboratory of Design against Oppression (LADO). From that position, he guest-edited two special issues of the Diseña Journal on Design, Oppression, and Liberation, hosted the international course Designs of the Oppressed, and organized the Theater of the Techno-Oppressed outreach activity.
Dr. Van Amstel's PhD thesis, accepted by the University of Twente, identifies several contradictions in architectural design and service design. Instead of eliminating them, his practice of expansive design harnesses contradictions as a source of change. Further research in nearby fields has demonstrated that, by representing contradictions in an open-ended way, a community or an organization can figure out how to transform its surrounding reality by releasing its inner conflicting forces. This can be done through serious gaming, data visualization, digital theater, metaphorical building blocks, speculative design mockumentaries, and other means of representing contradictions without solving them.
After defending his thesis, Dr. Van Amstel focused on the contradiction of oppression and the possibilities for liberation. This turn has led him to contribute to decolonizing, feminist, anti-racist, commoning, self-managed, existentialist, critical, and transdisciplinary approaches to design. So far, he published, together with collaborators, over 50 peer-reviewed papers in several fields of inquiry, including Participatory Design, Human-Computer Interaction, Design Studies, and Architectural Design.
Frederick Marinus Constant van Amstel is a transdisciplinary adventurer with a Bachelor in Social Communication (Media Studies), a Master in Technology (Science & Technology Studies), and a PhD in Design. He knows best what he can carry on his belt: a range of carefully crafted qualitative methods, design patterns, and digital infrastructures. One of these infrastructures, Corais Platform, has been widely appropriated by social movements, indigenous communities, art collectives, and popular educators associated with the Brazilian digital culture movement. Corais is the main legacy of Faber-Ludens Interaction Design Institute, the first one of its kind in Brazil, founded in 2007.
More about his work at https://fredvanamstel.com/