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Counterparts: Exploring Design Beyond the Human

Franca López Barbera presenting her research project and discussing "The co-habiting of worlds" at the Swiss Design Network Research Conference
27.–28. Oktober ’22

Consent for design-nature relationships: In light of ecological crises through anthropogenic impact, this conference asks what implications it has for design research, practice and education and aims to provide a basis for a joint exploration of what happens when we shift away from human-centred and universalist views of design and begin contemplating future ways of co-existing and co-emerging with others on this planet.

This presentation discusses two stories about the Quebracho Colorado tree, which underscore two contrasting ways of conceptualising and interacting with nature: one where the tree has agency and is capable of enforcing consent, and the other where the tree is a material resource capable of propelling Argentina’s industrialisation (and deforestation) process. Against this backdrop, it asks, how can design — a discipline that works within and normalises modern logics — relate with a tree that is not only a means to an end but can respond and enforce consent?