MoMA R&D

Salon 17 Hybridity - The space in between

We are living in a time of unprecedented—and often gleeful—contaminations. Disciplinary boundaries are fluid, schools and workspheres are transdisciplinary, and cross-sector collaborations are commonplace. On a macro level, organizational hybridity has connected formerly separate compartments of knowledge and expertise, creating inclusive and innovative ecosystems. On a micro level, disciplinary misfits are allowed to straddle multiple fields to capitalize on their unique ways of synthesizing knowledge.

Neologisms have been coined with abandon to describe these “T-shaped” or “horizontal” individuals—the so-called “slash generation.” What distinguishes this contemporary legion of hybrids from polymaths, generalists, passionate amateurs, and career jugglers is their ability to embrace the liminal space between professions and disciplines.

This salon explored the sensibilities, motives, and conditions that drive individuals and companies to hybridity in states of being, working, producing, and thinking. With hybrid champions, hybridity experts, and scholars of life in public spaces we will ponder representations that fuse real and virtual; conditions conducive to interdisciplinary collaborations; the power of misfits and their role in the new economy; the perceptual spatial barriers that exist in contemporary society and cities, and the hybrid identities they engender. We will consider how a mixed and ambivalent approach might be beneficial to deal with urgent developments, not only in our immediate world of designing and making but also in relation to social disparities and unrest, economic imbalance, and geopolitical ruptures.

The salon took place on 3 November 2015, at Harvard Graduate School of Design.

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