Post-anthropocentric Design: The problem of optimizing the relationship between humans and nature
The history of design shows countless examples in which design has caused harm on an individual, social, political, or ecological level – even things that are clearly identified as nature, depending on the cultural and geographical context, have already been interfered with by design. All these actions are, of course, anthropocentric – because design is always an anthropocentric activity and practically no processes exist that seriously exclude humans as stakeholders (this problem is intensified by the fact that design is also dominated by a weird – western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic – view that lacks the methods and vocabulary to understand needs and requirements in a global context). Established design processes can thus quickly cease to function since they cannot reflect all interests (between different people; and the “interest” of nature and its plant and animal representatives – whatever that may mean). So we need a post-eurocentric and then a post-anthropocentric understanding of design – and one that functions pluralistically and above all also future-oriented. Instead of using established processes to deal with interdependence, this tension between humans and nature thus formulates the need for new design processes and above all: a serious design ethic.
Social Design; Post-anthropocentric design; Transformation Design; Design Ethic
Sven Quadflieg studied design and visual communication at the Folkwang University of the Arts (Essen, Germany) and the Zurich University of the Arts (Switzerland) and wrote his doctoral thesis at the HFBK Hamburg. He is currently a professor at HSHL (Lippstadt, Germany), having previously taught at the Bergische Universität Wuppertal, the Fachhochschule Münster, Ecosign and the Folkwang Universität der Künste (all: Germany). His research interests are the dependencies between design and society, political design and transformation design. He researched and published on informal architecture, social design and political design and is currently particularly interested in design in the context of algorithms and artificial intelligence. His perspective is certainly shaped by a privileged, academic, and European background – free from all forms of experiences of discrimination –, though his interest lies precisely in the deconstruction of these privileges: how can a diversity-sensitive and inclusive design be realized? What are methods to capture the needs of human and non-human beings? How can we balance different needs against each other?