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Moving decolonially in design for sustainabilities: spaces, rhythms, rituals, celebrations, conflicts
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Umeå Institute of Design.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7806-8150
2022 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Rörandes dekolonialt inom design for hållbarhet : utrymmen, rytmer, ritualer, firanden, konflikter (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

As design attempts to tackle environmental and social issues, it has found itself intertwined with and bound to an oppressive global paradigm that has created the problems in the first place. Consequently, the effort of disentangling design from its current paradigm has been gaining attention under the emerging focus of decolonising design (Mareis and Paim, 2020; Tlostanova, 2017) and design for pluriversality (Escobar, 2018; Noel, 2020). These efforts have argued for allowing various ways of defining and doing design to coexist as a way forward. However, if on one side we have design intertwined with oppressive global structures, and on the other side we have the desire to allow the co-existence of pluriverses of designing, we are left with a gap in between. What are possible openings to move from contemporary design to pluriverses of designing? 

This dissertation tackles this question to explore openings to move towards pluriverses of designing. Building on work done by scholars such as Escobar (2018a, 2018b, 2015), Noel (2020) and Vázquez (2017), this design research program seeks to contribute to decolonising design by providing examples and orientation points to move towards pluriversality. To do so, it uses a practice-based design research approach where practice and moving are framed by the Afro-Brazilian decolonial martial art of Capoeira, which focuses on finding openings to escape from colonial oppression. Capoeira allows us to look at how contemporary design moves in order to identify its flaws and use these as openings towards other ways of designing.

This dissertation moves through several levels of abstraction, taking an up-close look at the entanglement of design and oppressive global structures as a starting point and then moving down in scale through the efforts of Design for Sustainability, decolonising design and design for pluriversality. Reaching the level of focus on situated design action, this work presents a collection of six collaborative movements in the form of academic publications. Drawing on these movements, the work outlines possible aspects for fomenting decolonial design stances to move towards pluriversality and traces the possible implications for doing, writing, teaching and understanding design. The concepts of awarenessing, pluriversal directionality and bringing personal stances into defining designing are proposed as orientation points to move towards pluriverses of design.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 2022. , p. 263
Series
Umeå Institute of Design Research Publications ; 11
Keywords [en]
Design, decolonization, sustainability, Capoeira, movement, decolonising design, design for sustainability, pluriverse, pluriversality, industrial design
National Category
Design
Research subject
design
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-198656ISBN: 978-91-7855-853-7 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7855-854-4 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-198656DiVA, id: diva2:1687538
Public defence
2022-09-21, Project Studio (via Zoom), Östra Strandgatan 30, Umeå, 14:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Various pagination.

Chapter 6 and appendix 2 contain appended papers and are not included in pdf. 

Available from: 2022-08-31 Created: 2022-08-16 Last updated: 2023-12-15Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Humble Designing: A Future Perspective on the Role of Design in Design for Sustainability
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Humble Designing: A Future Perspective on the Role of Design in Design for Sustainability
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2017 (English)In: Proceedings of the 18th European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production: Towards a Greener Challenge & Evolution in the Framework of the Circular Economy / [ed] Konstantinos Aravossis, 2017Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Design has the potential for addressing societal challenges including sustainability by highlighting certain societal issues or even changing existing structures of consumption. One of the primary concerns of design for sustainability (DfS) has been to bring about behavior change towards supporting more sustainable lifestyles. There are a number of potential problems however with this intention of DfS. Behavior change is highly normative, and potentially problematic to address, since there is no obvious agency of designing for norm setting in sustainability. As a reaction towards these concerns, we have been exploring an alternative perspective on DfS by challenging existing power structures and norm setting occurring among the various roles and relations between actors in design processes. We frame this perspective as humble designing to indicate an important yet modest role for design. In order to take this exploration further, we held two workshops with design practitioners and researchers working with DfS in the fields of interaction design, engineering, social sciences and anthropology. In this paper we reflect upon these two workshops in order to understand whether humble designing as an alternative perspective on DfS has potential to contribute in steering away from normative goal-setting so to diversify design for sustainability. The results indicated that there is a need for setting appropriate moments for applying humbleness in a design approach, but also that there is potential for moderating power structures within design processes in order to address normative intentions.

Keywords
design for sustainability, humble designing, sustainable consumption, societal challenges, norm setting
National Category
Design
Research subject
sustainability; consumer behavior
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-141576 (URN)
Conference
ERSCP 2017, 18th European Roundtable for Sustainable Consumption and Production, 1–5 October 2017, Skiathos Island, Greece
Projects
Humble designing
Available from: 2017-11-08 Created: 2017-11-08 Last updated: 2022-08-17Bibliographically approved
2. Journeys of Displacement Between South and North: Decolonizing a Designer Imaginary
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Journeys of Displacement Between South and North: Decolonizing a Designer Imaginary
2018 (English)Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In a globalized world that promotes universal desires, southern epistemologies struggle to flourish against westernized notions of values, beauty and life goals. This manifestation of Coloniality (Grosfoguel, 2006) is strengthened by the mainstream systems of production and consumption of both goods and knowledge, where design is a driving force. Design, has been taught from generations in academy under the same Eurocentric canons that disseminate the values of capitalism and search for economic growth. Designers, have been worldwide trained to think, value and act according to the standards of aesthetics, progress and development set in the North. However, the current global unsustainability crises make more evident the global power dynamics, and the need to maintain diverse and contextualized forms of seeing and acting with the world.

Our own experience of being trained as designers in the south, and now relocated to the north is making us aware of our life desires imposed by contemporary coloniality. However, this relocation also builds on the advantages of coloniality, for instance, by being in contexts that have a stronger voice in international disciplinary communities. As others in our situation, we don’t want to be colonizers by being the “north in the south”. In this presentation we show journeys of deconstructing design, sustainability and their values and worldviews through transitioning between south and north. These journeys are motivated by the intention of creating mutual learning between south and north. We aim at supporting the transition of our discipline from Eurocentric worldview to more diverse worldviews and systems of values.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Mexico City: , 2018
Keywords
design for sustainability, coloniality, globa North, global South, Eurocentric design
National Category
Design
Research subject
sustainability
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-151954 (URN)
Conference
First North-South Conference on Degrowth-Descrecimiento, México City, 3–7 September, 2018
Available from: 2018-09-19 Created: 2018-09-19 Last updated: 2023-01-27Bibliographically approved
3. Design, power and colonisation: decolonial and antioppressive explorations on three approaches for Design for Sustainability
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Design, power and colonisation: decolonial and antioppressive explorations on three approaches for Design for Sustainability
2019 (English)In: Academy for Design Innovation Management 2019 (ADIM2019), Loughborough University London, 18th - 21st June, 2019, London, 2019Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Our contemporary world is organized in a modern/colonial structure. As people,professions and practices engage in cross-country Design for Sustainability (DfS), projectshave the potential of sustaining or changing modern/colonial power structures. In suchproject relations, good intentions in working for sustainability do not directly result inliberation from modern/colonial power structures. In this paper we introduce threeapproaches in DfS that deal with power relations. Using a Freirean (1970) decolonialperspective, we analyse these approaches to see how they can inform DfS towards beingdecolonial and anti-oppressive. We conclude that steering DfS to become decolonial orcolonizing is a relational issue based on the interplay between the designers’ position inthe modern/colonial structure, the design approach chosen, the place and the peopleinvolved in DfS. Hence, a continuous critical reflexive practice is needed in order to preventDfS from becoming yet another colonial tool.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: , 2019
Keywords
Design for Sustainability, coloniality, decolonial, power structures, reflexivity
National Category
Design
Research subject
design; sustainability; political science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-161779 (URN)
Conference
Academy for Design Innovation Management Conference 2019
Available from: 2019-08-02 Created: 2019-08-02 Last updated: 2023-01-27Bibliographically approved
4. Reorienting design towards a decolonial ethos: exploring directions for decolonial design
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Reorienting design towards a decolonial ethos: exploring directions for decolonial design
2024 (English)In: Design and Culture, ISSN 1754-7075, E-ISSN 1754-7083Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Contemporary Industrial Design, as professional and academic practice, exists intertwined with the global hegemonic power structures of coloniality (Buckley 1986; Escobar 2018a; Mareis and Paim 2020). Problematizing this situatedness, the effort of Decolonizing Design emerges as a twofold effort: first to unlink it from this structure, opening up for diverse understandings of Design and, second, to remove oppressive behaviors from Design. In this paper we present a decolonial intervention in an Industrial Design education in the Global North as an exploration of how to shift Design towards decolonial emancipation. From this project, we suggest the categories of listening, learning, and loving as guidelines for decolonizing Design. We conclude arguing that the work necessary to dismantle Design as we know it and explore decolonial directions demands that we continually work to break and counterbalance the allegiance to its Eurocentrism and oppressive ways of working.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2024
Keywords
decolonization, emancipation, critical pedagogy, relationality, Indigenous methodologies, industrial design
National Category
Design
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-198682 (URN)10.1080/17547075.2024.2356764 (DOI)001242850600001 ()2-s2.0-85195505508 (Scopus ID)
Note

Originally included in thesis in manuscript form. 

Available from: 2022-08-17 Created: 2022-08-17 Last updated: 2024-06-26
5. Improvisational Design Dialogue: exploring relational design encounters as means to dismantle oppression in design
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Improvisational Design Dialogue: exploring relational design encounters as means to dismantle oppression in design
2022 (English)In: DRS2022: Bilbao / [ed] Dan Lockton; Sara Lenzi; Paul Hekkert; Arlene Oak; Juan Sádaba; Peter Lloyd, London: Design Research Society, 2022, article id 104Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

To explore dismantling oppressive power relations in design, we bring to fore design encounters through the lens of relationality and improvisational competence. This paper is based on the premise that, if we are to move toward decolonizing design, design(ers) needs to re-think the organization of the design encounter and how we as designers practice participation in such encounters. We emphasize the improvisational nature of turn-taking in dialogue amidst asymmetric and dynamic power relations, with design’s commitment to generating resources for future practices, and decolonization’s commitment to re-configure power structures. After problematizing the design encounter from a power relation perspective, we explore practice models for developing improvisational competence. We do this by looking at the two improvisational dialogic practices of Capoeira and Improv Theater. We focus on what it can mean to develop skills in “improvisational competence” of relationality in design. We first touch on our previous Participatory Design work in the language learning “in the wild” agenda and then draw on each of our personal improvisational practices: Capoeira martial art, and improvisational theater. We then outline possibilities for relational improvisational design dialogue and conclude by outlining how it can be practiced in Design education and practice.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Design Research Society, 2022
Series
PROCEEDINGS OF DRS, ISSN 2398-3132
Keywords
power relation, improvisation, relationality, decolonization
National Category
Design
Research subject
design
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-198677 (URN)10.21606/drs.2022.386 (DOI)978-1-91229-457-2 (ISBN)
Conference
Design Research Society Conference 2022, Bilbao, Spain, June 25 – July 1, 2022.
Note

Joint authorship with names in alphabetical order.

Available from: 2022-08-17 Created: 2022-08-17 Last updated: 2023-01-27Bibliographically approved
6. Pluriversal spaces for decolonizing design: exploring decolonial directions for participatory design
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Pluriversal spaces for decolonizing design: exploring decolonial directions for participatory design
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2023 (English)In: Diseña, ISSN 0718-8447, Vol. 22, no 2, article id 8Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Decolonization is a situated effort as it relates to the relations of privilege, power, politics, and access (3P-A, in Albarrán González’s terms) between the people involved in design in relation to wider societies. This complexity creates certain challenges for how we can understand, learn about, and nurture decolonization in design towards pluriversality, since such decolonizing effort is based on the relationship between specific individuals and the collective. In this paper, we present and discuss the ‘River project’, a participatory space for decolonizing design, created for designers and practitioners to reflect on their own 3P-A as a way to create awareness of their own oppressive potential in design work. These joint reflections challenged ideas of participation and shaped learning processes between the participants, bringing to the foreground the importance of seeing and allowing for a plurality of life and work worlds to be brought together. We build on the learnings from this project to propose the notions of pluriversal participation, pluriversal presence, and pluriversal directionality, which can help nurture decolonizing designs towards pluriversality. We conclude by arguing that, for nurturing pluriversality through Participatory Design, participation, presence, and direction must be equally pluriversal.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 2023
Keywords
Decolonization, Pluriverse, Participatory Design, Participation, Presence, Descolonización, Pluriverso, Diseño participativo, Participación, Presencia
National Category
Design
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-198683 (URN)10.7764/disena.22.Article.8 (DOI)2-s2.0-85158121419 (Scopus ID)
Note

Originally included in thesis in manuscript form. 

Available from: 2022-08-17 Created: 2022-08-17 Last updated: 2023-06-02Bibliographically approved
7. Take it personally: what may it take to become designers for pluriversality?: [Tómatelo personal: ¿Qué se necesita para convertir-se en Diseñadoras(es) para la pluriversalidad?]
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Take it personally: what may it take to become designers for pluriversality?: [Tómatelo personal: ¿Qué se necesita para convertir-se en Diseñadoras(es) para la pluriversalidad?]
2023 (English)In: Kepes, ISSN 1794-7111, Vol. 20, no 27, p. 19-46Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [es]

Este artículo argumenta que si queremos llegar al Diseño para la pluriversalidad, no podemos hacerlo desde una noción universalista de lo que significa ser Diseñador. Este artículo describe brevemente los esfuerzos para descolonizar el Diseño, para luego examinar dos aproximaciones de Diseño en métodos de Diseño comprometidos socialmente, que enmarcan cómo los Diseñadores conectan a lugares y personas: Diseño Situado y Empatía en el Diseño. Estos discursos son luego matizados con un lente decolonial, detallando cómo los Diseñadores se sitúan y se comprometen a través de la matriz colonial del poder. Este análisis sirve como un mapa de aspectos a tener en cuenta para comprender la relación del Diseñador con lugar, historia, profesión y personas en la matriz colonial del poder. El artículo sugiere la normación de awarenessing, una toma de conciencia reflexiva orientada a la acción, sobre la propia posicionalidad, la flexibilidad en los procesos de Diseño y la incorporación de aspectos personales en el Diseño como posibles formas de abrir posturas pluriversales en el Diseño. El artículo concluye delineando las implicaciones potenciales de estas posturas para hacer, escribir y enseñar Diseño.

Abstract [en]

This paper argues that if we aim to Design for pluriversality, we cannot do so from a universalist notion of what it means to be a Designer. This paper briefly describes the efforts of decolonizing Design, then looks into two Design approaches in socially engaged Design methods that frame how Designers connect to place and people: Situated Design and Design Empathy. These discourses are then further nuanced by adding a decolonial lens, nuancing how Designers are situated and engage through the colonial matrix of power. This then serves as a map of aspects to be taken into consideration for nuancing a Designer’s relation place, history, profession and people in the colonial matrix of power. This paper then suggest the notions of awarenessing, an action-oriented reflective awareness on one’s position, flexibility in Design processes and the incorporation of personal aspects into Designing as possible ways to open up for pluriversal Design stances. The paper concludes by outlining potential implications of opening up for such stances in doing, writing and teaching Design.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Universidad de Caldas, 2023
Keywords
Design, decolonization, power, pluriverse, Diseño, descolonización, poder, pluriverso
National Category
Design
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-198684 (URN)10.17151/kepes.2023.20.27.2 (DOI)2-s2.0-85168146759 (Scopus ID)
Note

Originally included in thesis in manuscript form with title: "Take it personally: what is a designer for pluriversality?"

Available from: 2022-08-17 Created: 2022-08-17 Last updated: 2023-09-14Bibliographically approved

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Torretta, Nicholas B.

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