Story-making: Re-imagining possible futures through collaborative world-building approaches
Dismantling Lorde’s ‘master’s tools’ is a project fraught with paradoxes where as soon as we engage with new opportunities, we find ourselves re-cycling the same systems that flounder in experiential realities and contextualized dilemmas of what it might mean to ‘decolonize’ design. This is the nub of de Sousa Santos’ call for alternatives to alternatives and the heartbeat of Escobar’s dictum that ‘another possible is possible’. We need to disrupt the system itself when re-imagining possible tools and dismantle its machinery. In Segato’s words: the point is not to imagine a utopia but to engage in active imaginative process. Here, we share an approach to disruption, imagining pluriversal worlds and story-making together. We discuss insights from a series of workshops where participants were invited to engage in active imagination and play with world building and collaborative story-making through activities inspired by improvisation and tabletop role-playing games. Our purpose is to explore ways of dismantling the ingrained habits of current design methodologies; unlearn normalized ways of thinking and re-construct shared approaches for designing, making, rethinking and reframing problems. We believe that speculative tools such as these can provide a point of departure for discussing ‘alternatives to alternatives’ and make spaces for emergence.
Decolonial design, pluriverses, world-building, collaborative story-making
Manuela Taboada is a designer, researcher and lecturer working across environmental sciences and design. Her background in complex emergency, design activism and decolonial design defines the way she critically engages transdisciplinary and multi-cultural teams to design change and systems transitions.
Jane Turner is a game and interaction design educator and researcher. Her research focuses on place-making and the material and cultural aspects of world designing and the ways that design and designing are mimetic ‘story-ing’ practices.