Research day looks like. 25.07.2017 | 11:35 am. Bogotá, Colombia.

What design should be designing?

The role of the designer has changed at present, by the very nature of the design process. Designers migrate from the author to the facilitator, as the have become the providers of tools and dynamics that detonate innovation, creation or change. User-centred design starts from people, and from the deep understanding of them, to comprehend the particularity of their actions, their motivations or their intentions to find a way to attach value to their lives through specific interventions. But humans have been too costly to us. So these days I found the perfect timing for design beyond humans. You’ve been so useful, Human-Centred design, but your time has come to an end, we have to design using you but going further than that. We have to stop placing us at the centre of this enormous landscape, where we actually are just a wee bit. The present times are marked by information technologies, artificial intelligence, augmented reality and so on. Making the design scenario every day more complex and feeding the natural ambiguity of the process.

Now it is so common to hear about Design thinking and how it can thrive corporations, and designing intangibles to accompany products. But I keep thinking, what will the future be? What should we be designing? That was the question that detonated my actual inquiries as a designer, a teacher, and an inhabitant of planet earth. I don’t feel motivated to understand or to improve how people consume clothes, food, or entertainment, even when I am a happy consumer of lots of them. I feel motivated by some other minimal but so powerful personal experiences, like living with my dog, going with her to the park, meeting some kids from my house surroundings, receiving a handmade card from the Cali girl I sponsor to go to school, watching amazing chronicles from the demobilised people from the FARC, the amazing book I bought on a trip that contained beautiful illustrations of kids’ daily lives around the world. Visiting my husband’s horse, feeding my plants, or contemplate Bogota’s beautiful mountains. So, what is this thing that all these experiences make me feel?

After so much thinking and self-analysing, I realized I was motivated to design for connectedness, for empathy. I started asking myself about the role of design in this immateriality. I am aware that it is my academic position what leads me to this amazing place in which my job lets me explore this questions, so at least I have to make it worthwhile. So in order to that I start my research asking myself: Can we create interactions between unknown people? Can we facilitate scenarios for sharing experiences? Can we help people to understand other species? Can we contribute to increase tolerance over the differences? And over biological/physiological differences? How can we use all these amazing technologies for connecting emotions? Can we design for an ecosystem in the more complete sense of that word? Can we use design to build pro-social attitudes? Can we explore through design different ways of conviviality with others besides humans? Can we help humans understand they are just one more species in the universe?

I’ll let you know what I find….