Interspecies Design

Time: 10:15 - 11:30 am, Thursday 29th September

Location: Malaysian Theatre B121 - Glyn Davis Building (MSD), University of Melbourne

Can animals, plants, and bacteria be the clients of design? Can these and other nonhuman beings act as collaborators in design processes? What conceptual reframing, political empowerment, and technical capabilities will be necessary for the resulting interspecies design?

These questions are important in the conditions of multiple and increasingly acute environmental crises. Human-centered approaches to design are responsible for the ongoing damage because they define and confine possible futures. Design efforts direct construction, production, and many other aspects of human societies, delivering numerous innovations alongside staggering losses.

Today, many design disciplines seek to mitigate the damage and become more sustainable. However, less harm is a depressing goal. Seeking to extend past mitigation, this panel highlights opportunities to reimagine future environments as places for multispecies cohabitation. Research in urban ecology confirms that cities already house diverse nonhuman communities. They can support many more forms of multispecies cohabitation than they do now, with benefits for all.

In response, this session will explore approaches, examples, and emerging technologies for more-than-human, interspecies and ecocentric design. This session will show that these forms of design are ethically necessary, practically possible, and can be richly rewarding to human beings as well as to many other lifeforms.