Xenodesign — Towards Transversal Engagement in Design
PhD Thesis, Royal College of Art London, 2016-2020
In a time when the anthropocentrism of Western thinking and acting is under increased scrutiny for its role in the ecological and social crises of our time, new imaginaries and design approaches that question human-centrism, and open up paths towards alternatives, are needed. As a design field concerned with challenging the status quo and discussing ideas, discursive design — which encompasses practices such as speculative design, design fiction, or adversarial design — provides a useful testbed for investigating what these alternatives could entail. Critical posthumanism, with its history of critiquing anthropocentrism and Enlightenment humanism’s dualistic view of the human as separate from “nature,” can stimulate much-needed shifts in thinking and acting within this realm.
Xenodesign — Towards Transversal Engagement in Design, a Ph.D. by project, expands discursive design by drawing upon theory from critical posthumanism and its subfields of xenofeminism and xenoarchitecture and merging these with discursive design. It aims to develop design and engagement approaches that allow new, collaboratively developed posthuman imaginaries to emerge. The practical research achieves this by engaging with diverse human as well as non-human audiences, in contexts including a field in the countryside, a museum, educational and research institutions, and a community garden. It involves three design projects, three workshops, and one event, which are used to develop and test three approaches to xenodesign, thematically engaging with issues related to the posthuman condition — being in a time between technological acceleration and ecological collapse.
Supported by DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service)