Nieuwe Instituut Design Drafts Open Call

Nieuwe Instituut’s Design Drafts and Journal Safar invite submissions exploring the theme ‘protest’ within the realm of design, urban intervention, and visual culture. Five selected applicants will be invited to participate in writing, editing, and developing sessions with the editorial staff. The contributions will be published in Journal Safar Issue 9.

Journal Safar’s upcoming 9th issue will reveal how throughout history and in the current moment, graphic design has served as a catalyst for social and political change, symbolizing and spurring on power struggles, rebellions, and calls to arms. Design Drafts #3 seeks to investigate how different forms of design contribute to demonstrating social and political discontent. Examining the art of protest, symbols, and designs that have reshaped the world by out-designing authority and providing tools for solidarity.

Issue 9 of Journal Safar will illuminate the role of making in grassroots movements for social change, showcasing arts of rebellion from around the world by expanding upon a wide range of movements but not limited to; the Palestinian Liberation Movement; Women’s Liberation Movement; Anti-Apartheid; Cuban Revolutionary Poster Art (OSPAAL); Counter Cultures; Protests Against the Vietnam War; The Civil Rights Movement; Black Power and the Black Panthers; Gay Liberation and Pride; The Punk Movement; The Environmental Movement; ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power); International Solidarity; The Arab Spring (colonial term); Black Lives Matter; Anti-Masking Protests in 2020; Labor Rights (including striking and considerations of the Kafala system).

Consecutively, Design Drafts #3 in collaboration with Journal Safar invites writers to investigate across scales, movements, materials, and locations questions around but not limited to; the possibility and relevance of protest in contemporary contexts; the material and immaterial languages of protest; the irony and privileges within the space of the college campus; who decides what constitutes a protest, and the implications of such actions; the inverse relationship between protesting and policing; climate-driven motivations and implications; tiny acts of everyday resistance; and alternative and inclusive forms of protest.

We welcome submissions that critically engage with these themes and topics, providing insights, analyses, and visual representations that deepen our understanding of the role of design in protest movements.

Submission deadline

Please send your submission in English to before 11 July 2024, 00.00 CEST.

Submission guidelines

Please submit in a PDF file, in English*:

  • A short overview of the topic you propose that responds to the Protest open call and a fitting writing format (an essay, article, interview, piece of fiction, poem, visual essay, a.o) (max. 250 words)
  • Who are you? A short introduction (max. 100 words)
  • Where can we find you? Full name, country of residence, email address, and telephone number.

*We understand that English proficiencies may vary. We also recognise that English may not be the applicant’s first or primary language. As such – even though proposals should be submitted in English – all proposals will be considered on the sole basis of the criteria specified above, regardless of English language skills. Proposals should, however, be as thorough and specific as possible. Unfortunately, we are not able to offer translation support at this time. Applicants with reasonable adjustments and specific needs are encouraged to contact about the availability of any support services.

About the writing trajectory

Following this open call, five selected applicants will be commissioned to write a contribution to the Design Drafts publication. The publication will be released as part of Journal Safar’s Issue 9. Writers will meet one-on-one with editors provisionally in September, October, and November 2024 to develop their pieces. Each of the five selected writers will receive a fixed fee of 750 EUR.

Selection process

A pre-selection of applications will be made by the Journal Safar and Nieuwe Instituut teams. An international jury will then select the five writers. The jury will be announced soon via this webpage.

Applicants are encouraged to submit a proposal with interests in architecture, design, and digital culture. No experience in formal publishing and design writing is required. We also do not ask for a CV and there is no age limit to this open call.

For inquiries and submissions, please contact

About Design Drafts

Design Drafts is a growing writing and publishing network dedicated to investigating and drafting what it means to write about design today. Through collaborations between the Nieuwe Instituut and different magazines and publishing platforms, the series sets out to stimulate emerging forms of design writing and discourse. Essentially, Design Drafts instigates a collective search for languages to write design in. Previous editions of Design Drafts include Design Drafts #1 in collaboration with Disegno Journal (London), which was released 2022 in a publication available separately and as part of Disegno #34, and Design Drafts #2, which was released in 2023 in collaboration with New York-based magazine PIN-UP.

About Journal Safar

Safar is an annual and bilingual design and visual culture journal published in Beirut. The name Safar is Arabic for travel, and it refers to notions of communication, especially across disciplinal, cultural, and linguistic boundaries. Safar was created to remedy the scarcity of critical writings on design in the global south, and it aims to acknowledge designers as active agents of cultural production.

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