Open call
8 March 2021

28 April 2021

8 May 2021

Program period
May-October 2021

Essays and visual documentation digitally shared
November 2021

Believing in the importance of supporting knowledge and policy production in the field of design and architecture, the Istanbul Design Biennial hosts a research program, in partnership with the Center for Arts, Design, and Social Research, to work collaboratively with a selection of four women designers, curators, researchers, thinkers (two from Turkey and two from the US) who are actively investigating geopolitics to build new tools and systems for social, economic and mostly environmental resilience.

The objective of the program is to inquire the connection between the oppression of women, POC, LGBTI+, and the destruction of the environment, while revealing design's potential to instigate new processes, and spark global changes stemming from social, political and ecological endeavors.

The project aims at enabling researchers to contribute to establishing a different relationship with nature through collaborations across borders, institutions, and disciplines. It also aims at advancing and stimulating knowledge exchange in the field of design, and contributing to creating a sustainable common living space, in empathy with nature and all species. The program will foster collective research methodologies as well as forms of solidarity and responsibility within the design field that could lead not only to ecological but also spatial, political, and social transformations.

The research projects will continue to evolve until October 2021 with support from the Istanbul Design Biennial, enriched by regular digital meetings held between researchers, and supervised by the evaluation board.

At the end of the program, the selected research projects will be presented in a display at a digital archive, a new public research space, which will be created by the Istanbul Design Biennial. A digital publication with essays, and visual research will also be brought to life.

Four selected participants will be awarded 1.000 USD each to initiate and develop their research projects.

This research program is realized with the kind contributions of the US Embassy in Ankara.


Four women participants, two from Turkey and two from the US, will be selected via this open call.

Applications are open to women practitioners and thinkers (including designers, artists, writers, curators, researchers, and academics) from the US and Turkey, working across a range of fields; with research period expected to run between May-October 2021, with an outcome to be digitally published in November 2021.

Relevant themes of research include, but are not limited to: scarcity, ecological crisis, waste systems, new materialities, ecofeminism, environmental resilience, circular economy, agricultural industry vs. local ecologies, local production, ecological conflict and policies, accessibility

The applications can be submitted until 23.00 (GMT+3) on 28 April, 2021.


Applicants should provide the following documents via the application from:

1. Contact information (name, address, e-mail, phone, and website).
2. A motivation letter including the field of interest and what you would like to focus on during the research period (Max. 5000 characters).
3. A portfolio of projects from past experiences (Max. 10 MB).
3. A biography including details of where the candidates are based (Max. 2500 characters).

A board consisting of three members (Deniz Ova, Director of the Istanbul Design Biennial; Pelin Tan, sociologist, art historian, and researcher; Dalida María Benfield, Director of Research Programs at Center for Arts, Design, and Social Research) will evaluate the applications. Selected researchers will regularly receive consultation and supervision from the board members throughout the research process.

Click here for the application form.