Designing for and with Care in Multispecies Kinship: Exploring Methods of Decentering the Human in Design

University essay from KTH/Skolan för elektroteknik och datavetenskap (EECS)

Abstract: In the current climate crisis, creating a symbiotic collaboration between all members of an ecosystem has become a prominent topic. By reevaluating human-centered methodologies through a cultural probe and an orienting activity, I address notions of collaboration, cohabitation and extending one’s body beyond the skin. I explore the concept of care in human-plant relationships, along with understanding the trouble with designing for and with care in the context of human-nature-technology kinship. The cultural probe, through its ambiguity, has prompted reflections on care and multispecies kinship, whereas the orienting activity has been an attempt to potentially shift to a non-anthropocentric perspective. A materialization of speculative thinking, these activities are a first step in challenging human exceptionalism, a new approach to viewing the human as decentered in design. This paper positions care as a premise in addressing human-centered methodologies to include non-human actors, with prototypes and speculative design as techniques that facilitate approaching a challenging and complex topic as one of more-than-human assemblages.

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