A more-than-human design manifesto

We cannot separate human needs from those of other organisms in our environment. Many organisms, including humans, benefit from considering design spaces as holistic and relational. More-than-human-centred design focuses on this mutual interdependence.

More-than-human design resists binaries and blurs notions such as natureculture, self-environment, digital-physical, mind-body, human-technology, and humannon-human.

More-than-human design highlights the sentience, intelligence, and agency of other organisms. This implies that we need to seriously consider the needs of other organisms, their sensory capacities, and their capability for interaction.

More-than-human design recognises that we relate to other organisms from our limited human perspective. We explore how this experience can be enriched, strengthened, and augmented in ways that increase our understanding of the more-than-human world.

More-than-human design aims to widen the scope of action through the creative development of methods for noticing and understanding the more-than-human world.

More-than-human design works with the co-creative capacities of non-humans, both living and machines.

We design relational systems, rather than single artefacts.

More-than-human design recognises the direct and indirect effects of design, over time and across space, for a multitude of species. It is both microscopic and global.

More-than-human design recognises diverse temporalities: the millennial lifecycle of a boulder, the centennial lifecycle of an oak and the brief lifecycle of a dayfly. We work with circular systems sustaining themselves, but also recognise the linear reality of natural history. Nothing in nature has ever stayed the same. Everything in nature is slowly changing at the pace of natural evolution – but we want to avoid abrupt disturbances and mass extinction.

We resist cries for perfection and imaginaries of perfect futures. We consider diverse and conflicting needs and focus on how we make things survivable for ourselves and other organisms. We “stay with the trouble”. We ask tricky questions about justice.

This is only the first part of the manifesto. The second part is inscribed in leaves and rocks, and all the more-than-human world. We need to go out and notice this. What can we see, hear, smell, feel and taste? We are not afraid to use technology when we reach the limits of what we can sense.

We are spokespersons for what we notice
Anton Poikolainen Rosen:  anton.poikolainen.rosen@sh.se @Anton_P_R