Zurich University of the Arts, BA Design

Cosmos Observatories – Design Perspectives on Environmental Humanities

Design Theory Seminar | Every Autumn Term
Benjamin Egger, Flurina Gradin


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Excerpt from the project «Microbiyou». Concept and Illustration: Leonie Wetter. © ZHdK

Cosmos Observatories – "The Discovery of the World". Finished or just at the beginning? What do we know, what do we not know, and what methods can be used to communicate observations and findings of todays terra incognita

This design theory seminar introduces selected topics of Environmental Humanities (e.g. Anthropocene; Chthulucene; Holobiont; Environmental Justice; Environmental History; Intervention-Ecology; Slow Violence; Multispecies Encounters; Co-Evolution, Intra-Action, Queer Ecology) from a design perspective. The critical examination of one's own personal perception and the search for inspiration and experience (ontology, epistemology) forms a focus of the seminar week.

The introduction is based on a theory-exploratory tour through approaches and theories from past and present including great famous discoverers as well as various theoretical approaches such as from Donna Haraway, Karen Barad, Lynn Margulis or Jakob von Uexküll.

In individual conceptual design projects the participants further observe immediate surroundings of todays unknown worlds and record findings in text, pictures, illustrations and performances using creative tools and means.

The results are brought into discourse at a final event with guests, in 2020 in the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst.

Project samples from top left to right: Excerpt from the project «Blockchain Organismus». Concept and Illustration: Aylin Acikel; Excerpt from the project «Homo Sapiens – will he learn from his mistakes?». Concept and Illustration: Alexandra Li; Excerpt from the project «Explore Sensus». Concept and Illustration: Louisa Forestier; Excerpt from the project «Swarm Society». Concept and Illustration: Denise Meier. All content © ZHdK.