How Designing with More-Than-Humans Fosters Social Change and Environmental Justice

Zach and Louise 004 ECU 2021 06 09 C



Posted on July 05, 2021 | Updated July 15, 2021, 4:41PM

Teaching design to help heal a broken relationship between human beings and the rest of the planet.

For much of history, the practice of design has been preoccupied with making lives better for the Western, modern white male, Louise St. Pierre tells me via video call.

Your clothes and shoes, your apartment, your city, your coffee mug, the headphones you plug into your ears, and, of course, the device you’re using to read this now. Someone designed all of it, she says. And for most of the world, those objects and items may have been designed for someone who looks nothing like them. This holds no less true for the non-human world.

Given the overwhelming influence design has on the world and our experience of it, what if changing how designers think is one of the keys to healing a broken relationship between human beings and the rest of the planet?

Sound grandiose? Maybe. But as Louise and Zach Camozzi, a Health Design Lab and DESIS Lab researcher, fellow designer and ECU faculty member, explain, this work of changing design occurs in exceedingly subtle ways.

In fact, as students learn in Louise’s third-year ‘Design with More Than Humans’ courseand Zach’s second-year ‘INDD Core Studio-Design for Biodiversity’ course, it starts by attempting to look at the world through the eyes of another being.

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From Stuff to Sustainability

“If designers start to design for nature, with nature in mind as a priority emphasis, then automatically, without even really knowing it or seeing it, we’re disconnecting from the priorities of modernity and industry,” Louise says.

Full article by Perrin Grauer: