How to design to make other worlds possible?

Xaviera Sánchez de la Barquera Estrada

Co-Design for Resilience: A South-North feedback for a world in transition

The transition to more sustainable societies carries challenges that require collaborative efforts. At the same time, there are urgent crises that need timely and creative responses to prompt the resilience of social-environmental systems. Co-design can be a way to enhance processes of collaborative and creative change within communities facing that type of struggle. However, its methodologies and tools come from a very specific context, which often diminishes their potential when applied to issues that occur outside circumstances similar to those where the co-design tools were originated.

In order to be able to use co-design as a means to find other ways of existing and relating to the world, ones that are more fair and balanced for instance, it would be necessary to learn from different ways of worlding (Escobar, 2015). Consequently, there is a need of other ontologies in design to create alternative futures. To find those ontologies, design could learn from different ways of understanding and making the world that already exist - worldviews that most of the times have been displaced by a dominant vision.

Through my research, I aim to explore the possibilities of co-design through an exchange of social forms and relationships with the human and non-human environment. My starting point is inspired by the approaches of degrowth (D'Alisa, et al., 2015) and the epistemologies of the south (Sousa, 2011). Both visions have an emancipatory purpose to transcend current hegemonic social interactions and may work as a basis in the search for alternative and more sustainable ways of understanding, making and living the world, other ways of designing.

My interest is to find collaborative systems that are more appropriate to the historical moment of our critical present, with objectives other than those of the industry and taking into account other views of civilizational models. I seek to face co-design tools and methodologies to realities different from those of their origin and learn from an ecology of knowledges (Sousa, 2016) to feed the discussions around co-design for social transformation. This exchange is needed to imagine post-capitalist futures with a wider variety of references and sharing the benefits of what has been done through collaborative processes in both the global South and North.

Supervisor: Johan Redström & Brendon Clark

Areas of interest: Co-Design, Design for Sustainability, Diseño de los Sures / Diseños Otros, Degrowth, Epistemologies of the South, Emancipatory Processes, Care, Conviviality, Trust

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