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Beyond Anthropocene Ontopolitics

Last week I presented a keynote at the Design History Society Annual 2022 Conference in Ismir Turkey on the theme of Design and Transience. My talk was called “Design History and Design Futures: Beyond Anthropocene Ontopolitics.” I used the time to consider how design history might look at design artefacts and designed systems if we were to consider all design through the lens of ecological entanglement. This is not a minor difference from the current way of thinking about design.

Design has a pivotal role to play in creating new sustainable ways of living on this planet. But changing direction in design involves moving away from some of the assumptions that are propelling unsustainable and defuturing design practice. Design is evolving in response to debates that have emerged over the past 50 years as the sciences, the social sciences, and the arts integrate ecologically engaged ways of knowing into knowledge systems that have traditionally erased the ecological. This theory can inform the dialogue between design history and design futures. Examining the assumptions embedded in ideas, priorities and value systems that inform design history, we can potentially create space for new agencies for regenerative design futures.

In response to feedback I received at the conference I am going to develop the paper by applying the theory to some historic examples of “good” design. If we apply a lens consistent with Anthropocene ontopolitics, many examples of good design will need to be re-evaluated. I am interested in your opinions readers so if you have any examples of design artefacts that should be evaluated through the lens of ecological entanglement, please feel free to comment below or message me.

I’ve uploaded “Design History and Design Futures: Beyond Anthropocene Ontopolitics” keynote for the Design History Society’s 2022 Annual Conference on Design and Transience to slideshare (link below). I’ve only included slides with quotes, along with AI images – they can be downloaded. My own words will be in the upcoming paper.

All AI generated images and slides are published as Creative Commons – Attribution and Share-alike. More images can be downloaded on Instagram here.

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